Everywhere you look there are advertisements, news coverage, internet pop-up, reality TV shows about how to lose weight and eat healthier. So much information, often conflicting information, that it can seem overwhelming. To help make it simple and long lasting we have broken it down into some basic sustainable steps for you. Take it one step at a time but start now…one step today!!!
1. Go Back to Basics: Eat whole natural unprocessed foods as much as you can. If it comes in a box or bag or container beware. By eating milk, yogurt, organic meets, whole grains, rice vegetables and natural foods you automatically address several nutritional issues at one time. You cut your intake of sodium, saturated fat, sugars, refined carbohydrates, preservatives, additives and artificial sweeteners significantly.
2. Think Before You Eat: Have a plan. Whether you follow general guides like My Plate or a more specific eating plan have a daily goal for intake. In other words don’t just eat based only on what you “feel like”, but also based on what you have already had that day, based on what you are missing and based on what your intentions are for any other meals in the day.
3. Timing of Meals/ DON”T SKIP MEALS: Try not to go longer than 4 hours without eating something, even if it is a piece of fruit or a protein bar. Too many people start the day with the “dieting” mind set and restrict food so much that they are starving by the end of the day and finish the day with the “over-eating” mentality. Skipping meals or eating too little gives you low energy, makes you anxious and irritable, and can even make you depressed. Additionally, if you wait to eat when you are starving you will most likely lose your judgement and over-eat.
4. “ DIET” is a four-letter word: Making the declaration that you are on a diet just sets you up for restriction, guilt and failure. So remember this is a lifestyle approach, not a quick fix. Optimal health is your main goal, weight loss will be a fringe benefit.
5. Use plates and “normal sized” spoons to eat: If you have a habit of eating from a pot, pan, box, wrapper, container, or using a serving or stirring spoon to eat, STOP. Think about it, you will be more likely to over-eat this way because you will be unaware of the portion you are eating and it will still seem like one portion. If you put the food on a plate you will be able to judge your portions more accurately, and if you have to get up and fix your plate again for “seconds” you will have to stop and be aware.
6. Maintain a Healthy Eating Environment: Try not to eat in front of the TV or while reading because you will be less aware of what or how much you are eating.
7. Find Alternative Coping and Reward Mechanisms: It is always a good idea to check in with yourself as to why you are eating. It is ok to eat socially, it is part of our culture, but it can easily be tied to healthy physiological eating. When eating becomes something to cope with stress, boredom or anxiety that’s when it can become a problem.
8. Identify Triggers: if you have a tendency to “binge” or over-eat on a regular basis, try to keep a journal or log to identify patterns. Write down time of day you ate, what happened immediately before, and during the day leading up to, what were you feeling, what did you eat prior to this. By doing this you may be able to establish a pattern. Another strategy is to develop a “delay”, choose something you like to do, draw, paint, walk, etc., then every-time you feel the urge to binge you do that behavior first. This serves two purposes it distracts you and it makes you stop and think
9. Join the Slow Foods Movement: Support local food producers and consume environmentally and animal friendly foods every day. Think about the food choices you make beyond just how they influence your own health.
10. Remember, calories do matter: Watch out for hidden calories in sauces, condiments, soups and dressings. Of course, many sweetened and alcoholic beverages contain a lot of calories too, so water is always a best choice.