I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about how to lose weight…specifically how to make the right food choices when there are just SO many different options, diets, and trends out there. Let me hip you to the game a lil bit…The truth is nutrition is the key to weight loss, but ultimately you have to figure out what works best for YOU. Everyone has different goals, and beyond that our bodies all react differently to different kinds of foods. With that said…I will give you some basic tips that will at least help you get started on the right foot:
- Breakfast is NOT your enemy. How many times have you skipped out on breakfast only to be famished by 11am? Those office donuts or a trip to the vending machine starts to look PRETTY good when the hunger monster hits. It’s not so bad…I mean you DID skip breakfast right? A donut and coffee won’t hurt right? WRONG! The whole point of breakfast is to break the FASTING you were doing while sleeping. Breakfast is meant to give your body some fuel to get the day started and to get your metab5olism running. Breakfast needn’t be a big deal, but you do want to get some protein in you as it helps to satiate you and yea, carbs too because they do help provide the body with energy. Quick ideas…some oatmeal with fresh fruit. A protein shake. Boiled egg with blanched asparagus and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese – yes, you can have veggies for breakfast! Check out these links for some other options for breakfast here, here, and here.
- Eat to satisfy, not to stuff. This may take some practice to fully understand, but often times we eat so quickly (especially when hungry) that we wind up feeling stuffed. Ever get so hungry you devour your meal plus more, only to find out that you may have eaten too much? Yea. When you are eating, think about finding your happy medium where you are satisfied, but not stuffed. Drink water throughout your meal, in addition to helping you stay hydrated, it will help you feel satisfied. Once you reach that point of satiety, stop eating. Resist the subconscious urge to “clean the plate” – it’s really ok to leave food on your plate, contrary to what most of us were raised to believe.
- Balance your calories like you balance your checkbook. Seriously. Most of us keep a pretty accurate account of how our money is being spent. What bills are coming up? What purchases do I need/want to make? And of the income I have coming in addition to what’s currently in the bank account, what can I afford to spend? I think of my calories like money in my account. Some meals, some foods are not worth the splurge, but on some days…they might be. The way I see it, everyday I have about x number of calories (let’s just say 1,600) to “spend”. The way I tend to eat is like that of a grazer – I eat several times throughout the day, all relatively small meals to keep me in a constant state of satiety versus riding the starving and stuffed rollercoaster. So for someone like me, that 1,600 cal has to make it through about 5-6 small meals of about 250 – 320 cal per meal. Knowing this information helps me to decide how I want to “spend” my calories. If a meal for me is to fall between that calorie range, then something a pack of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (my fave treat…OMG) which is 210 cal per pack would cost me about the same amount as a meal…without filling me up as a meal would. I see this as a waste of calories, because depending on what I’m doing that day, whether or not I’m working out, how much food I’ve already eaten, that 210 cal could be better spent on some real food that would curb any hunger and satisfy me.
- Know what you are eating…and how much. This is where tracking comes into play. Building off the previous point, keeping track of your food intake will help you to see when you are hungry, how you tend to eat, what you are eating, and what it is “costing” you. Not everyone tracks their food and caloric intake, but I do recommend that you do so. Why? Because how are you to figure out what works for you, what your eating habits are, what your trigger foods might be, unless you can actually look back on what it is you’ve eaten (and how it’s made you feel)? Tracking your food also keeps you accountable in the moment. If you know you’ve spent through most of your calories for the day, then you KNOW that slice of cake/cookie will put you over your calorie budget for the day. Not saying you CAN’T eat it – you can do whatever you want, but the KNOWLEDGE of where you stand is what helps make the difference. Which brings me to…
- Not all “healthy” foods are actually healthy. Like smoothies…seem healthy right? BUT most smoothie places make smoothies with lots of sugary syrups and other fillers that pack on the calories. Add to that the fact that their portions are just crazy large, and though they are supposed to be a meal, most will treat a smoothie as a snack. Well, yours truly? I make my own smoothies/shakes at home using either Herbalife shake mix or my own personal mix. But the point is, when I make my shakes and smoothies, I’m in control of what goes in them and they tend to be way healthier and more filling than what I’d find at a smoothie place. The term healthy has become subjective these days in the food industry. You really must do some homework and at least read your labels to determine just how “healthy” a product really is.
- There is NO quick fix. Fad diets can be ok for a short amount of time, but sustaining weight loss comes from changing what you eat and how you eat. PERIOD. If there was a magic diet that would make us all drop the pounds over night, then there would be no weight issue. But that’s not reality. There are a ton of different fad diets and cleanses out there meant to entice you to lose weight fast, like right NOW! But hey, did you gain those 15lbs overnight? No? Ok, so don’t expect it to fall off overnight either. Sorry to break it to ya. Healthy and sustainable weight loss occurs within a range of 1 – 2lbs of weight dropped per week. Yep. You want to loose the weight and keep it off? Slow and steady will win this race, which is great because that allows you freedom to experiment with new foods and slowly wean yourself off of and away from some of the unhealthy foods and eating habits that helped make you gain that weight in the process. Patience young grasshopper!
- The choice is always yours to make in the end. Everything we put into our bodies is not always good for us. Yes, we know this. But the more informed you are about what you are eating, what is in it, and how much of it you are eating in relationship to serving size is crucial when it comes to eating for health. There are times when you might indulge, and it’s ok to do that from time to time. However, you don’t want those indulgences to become the standard…that’s how you gain weight and build unhealthy eating habits – we don’t want that. Read your food labels, pay attention to the serving sizes and stick to it as best you can. Read the ingredients label from time to time – you’d be surprised what goes into food these days. Lean protein and fresh produce are really your healthiest options hands down, but I know we are all at different places with our dietary needs/desires, so at least make an attempt to know what you’re eating. Make smart choices.