Food in many cultures is the center piece of life, socialization, family gatherings, celebrations, death, and all that is important to us. Eating good food is intertwined with all that is important in our lives, especially as it concerns family and friends. So how do we lose weight when food is always present; good food at that? How do we lose weight when we love to eat?
The answer is simple; we must eat to lose. I know this sounds ridiculous and the challenge is still there, but it is that simple. The key is eating smart; not dieting; not starving yourself; not punishing yourself with foods you do not enjoy. We must eat smart. We must eat to lose.
Now, right here, I must confess that I do not believe in dieting and will not support dieting in any of my discussions concerning eating and weight loss. I purport life style change including the way we eat, what we eat, and how we eat. So, let’s consider some methods we can apply to our daily walk towards eating to lose.
HOW DO WE EAT TO LOSE?
What is the big deal about planning ahead. It is critical to eating properly and eating to lose? Many nutritionists say that it is important to know when you are going to eat and what you are going to eat. When you plan what you are going to eat at the beginning of the day and/or the beginning of a week, you are not scrambling when you are hungry; grabbing whatever is close or easy to get through. It helps you to stay away from the vending machines or fast food restaurants which are so convenient, easy and quick.
Aim for three healthy meals and two to three small snacks a day, which means you’re eating something around every three hours. A 2010 Swedish study involving more than 3,000 people found that those who ate more than three times a day had a lower body mass index and waist circumference; consumed more fiber and less fat; and drank less alcohol than those who limited their eating sessions to three or less. The practice of eating more than three meals a day, sometimes called “(grazing)” has been indicated by health care professionals, dieticians, and others as a way to help with managing blood sugar levels, improving metabolism, and facilitating weight loss. Alternatively, skipping meals can actually promote weight gain. “Eating more often keeps your metabolism humming, and prevents you from getting super hungry,” says Lauren Antonucci, M.S., R.D., owner of Nutrition Energy in New York City. Of course, this simple rule does not give us permission to gorge ourselves five to six times a day. The key is to eat three healthy and nutritious meals and two to three small (low calorie) and healthy snacks.
The National Weight Control Registry is a compendium of more than 10,000 people who have maintained a weight loss of at least 30 pounds for at least one year. These successful losers “limit their exposure to temptations,” says J. Graham Thomas, Ph.D., a co-investigator on the study, “and have a repertoire of healthy foods they pull from regularly.” In other words they have a listing of healthy food choices that are constant in their daily eating habits. For example, as you plan your foods for the day or week, there is nothing wrong with having your faithful favorite fruit for a snack.
DON’T DRINK SUGAR
A study out of Tufts University in Boston looked at the association between sugar-sweetened drinks and the nutritional habits of 947 adults. Unsurprisingly, those who drank the most sugary beverages, like soda, had a higher risk of obesity and a lower intake of fiber. Get rid of the soda. There are many dangers to drinking soda. Drink water and find a healthier drink alternative to replace your desire and craving for soda. You will be amazed at how many pounds you can lose simply by dumping the soda pop.
Aim to have fruits and vegetables make up half of each meal. A good rule is to make sure your breakfast is half fruit, and your lunch and dinner, half veggies; you should also use the 50/50 ratio for snacks too. For example, for a snack try carrots and a yogurt, or string cheese and an apple. Not only will following this pattern help you lose weight, eating more fruits and vegetables will also boost your immune system, help to prevent heart disease, cancer and other diseases that can be chronic and debilitating.
Go Off the Sauce
Beware of the hidden calories in sauces. Use tomato sauce instead of Alfredo on pasta; substitute hummus or mustard for mayo on a sandwich; and make your own salad dressing: Add a little ranch seasoning to plain Greek yogurt, or a dash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Make Fiber Your Friend
“Multiple studies have shown that fiber is correlated to weight loss as well as weight maintenance,” says Jennifer Vimbor, M.S., R.D., founder of Nutrition Counseling Services in Chicago. Fiber passes through your system undigested, so your body has to work harder and longer to move it out, which helps rev your metabolism and give you a feeling of fullness. Aim to eat at least 25 grams of fiber a day: beans, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
Keep it Away
Don’t bring decadent foods into your home; it’s easier to win the battle at the grocery store than at the dinner table.
Practice Long, Slow Eating
In a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in 2011, researchers in New Zealand looked at the relationship 2,500 women had between their self-reported speeds of eating and their body mass indexes. For each step up in speed (on a five-step scale from very slow to very fast), BMI increased by 2.8 percent. By slowing down, you give your mind a chance to process that your body is full. Bottom line, eating slower is good for you. In this fast paced world we have allowed our eating habits to go along with the craziness. Many of us are so busy doing other things while we are eating, we gobble down the meal much too quickly, crating many problems for ourselves, including indigestion, gas, and weight gain. Slow down and enjoy your food. Get rid of all the distractions while you are eating. Turn off the TV, the computer, the iPad, the smartphone. Turn them off and begin to enjoy every bite of food you put in your mouth. It takes approximately 20 minutes for the brain to send out signals for fullness from the time you start eating. Studies indicate that eating too fast increases your calorie intake; possibly because you are not giving your brain time to trigger a signal of fullness. Slowing down not only decreases calorie intake but can increase and intensify the pleasure of the food you are eating.
Go All DIY
Doing it yourself at home is the way to go and will most likely always involve fewer calories. Why? You can control the ingredients and the portion sizes. This is another area where preparing and planning ahead will help you to be able to eat to lose. Even on nights when you are too rushed to prepare and cook a meal, you can still eat at home and eat healthy. Stock your pantry and freezer ahead of time with vegetables, bean soups, frozen veggie pizzas, and frozen left over meals portioned and stored to quickly prepare in the microwave. You can also do it yourself with brown bagged lunches by planning and preparing ahead, including cooking double portions of meals (i.e. chili, lasagna and other pastas, soups).
Eat real Food
The more packaged and processed foods you eat, the less satisfied you feel. Also, processed foods are not as nutritious as “real” food and contain enormous amounts of sodium and other ingredients or chemicals that are not good for us. It is better to eat half of a sandwich for a snack than a handful of pretzels; or a serving of almonds than a bag of animal crackers. Keep an apple handy for times when you need that go to healthy snack when you are not able to get to anything else.
Before you grab that snack while you are sitting at your desk at work, or sitting in front of the television at home, make sure you are really, truly hungry. You may not be hungry. You might be tired, stressed, or just need some downtime. Get up you’re your seat and move around; or go get a glass of water. Afterward, if you are still hungry, at the very least you have given yourself time to think about what it is you will snack on.
What’s Your Intake?
As hard as this is and as much as we hate doing it, it is still important to do it; that is, count your calories. The reason this is so important is because it gives us perspective. It helps us to see the mindless eating we do; often. You might not be able to do this for one week, or one month, but try to do it for a few days. You can carry a notebook to keep track of your calories or you can capture your information in one of the apps that is available such as LoseIt, My FitnessPal, or MyPlate.
DOWNSIZE YOUR SETTINGS
It doesn’t matter whether you are at home or eating out, the bigger utensils and dishes promote bigger meals; more calories. Now, you might not be able to control the dish size at the restaurant but you can at home. So keep your dishes appropriately sized—a salad plate can easily hold a sandwich and a piece of fruit, which is a perfect lunch—and your serving dishes off the table.
The last area I want to cover is eating out. Although it is best to eat at home and do it yourself (DIY), we all have to eat out sometimes. So, how do I do this and continue to Eat to Lose (eat healthy)? There are some things you can do. For example, instead of ordering soda you should order water or unsweetened tea. Request wheat bread in place of the white bread, roll or bun. Ask for vinaigrette style dressings and request it on the side. Order steamed, baked or broiled foods rather than fried or sautéed. Order plenty of vegetables; remember half your plate. Do not go to buffets; and if you do, order off of the menu instead of the buffet. These are just a few tips you can consider when eating out. There are more practical tips at the Choose My Plate website.
(Some information was adopted from an article written by Dimity McDowell, March 2012 RW, Get in the Lean Lane)
– As Always,
Keep Moving To The Beat with Barb G!