HOW TO EAT TO LOSE - THE HEALTHY WAY!
This is probably the most important "rule" to practice and make a life-long habit. If you don't plan ahead, you're not going to be successful - plain and simple. Decide when and what you're going to eat during your day. Be sure to plan it out either the night before, at the beginning of the day or at the beginning of the week so that you're not scrambling for something to eat when you're hungry. If you wait until you're hungry you're more likely to give in to temptations, grab fast-foods or the pastries and leftover treats left in the break room at work.
Eat Throughout the Day
Strive to eat within the hour of waking and every three hours throughout the day. This usually equates to approximately three healthy meals and two small snacks a day. 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. Why is this so effective? Eating at regular intervals during the day helps to keep your metabolism going and prevents you from getting overly hungry, which usually leads to overeating and poor food choices. Again, pre-plan your meals and snacks and this "rule" will NEVER be an issue.
Practice Mindful EatingLong, 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. Begin practicing long, slow eating. By slowing down, you give your mind a chance to process that your body is full. Increase your mindfulness by avoiding distractions such as eating while on the computer, watching television or reading a book or newspaper. You'll become aware of every bite! Before you reach for a snack, practice asking yourself if you're really hungry. We often eat when we really need to drink water, we're bored, when we're tired or simply need a distraction. You may just need to step away from your desk for 15 minutes to chill out.
Eat real Food
The truth is, the more packaged and processed foods you eat, the less satisfied you feel. Think quality over quantity such as half a sandwich rather than a handful of pretzels or an ounce of nuts as opposed to animal crackers. Be sure to always have a snack on hand in case of emergencies such as a piece of fruit.
Make Fiber Your Friend
Multiple studies have shown that fiber is correlated to weight loss as well as weight maintenance. 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, which can include beans, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. When you exercise, however, avoid eating too much fiber as it may upset your GI tract. Aim for at least two hours beforehand and you should be good to go.
Avoid Drinking You Calories
The worst mistake people make is drinking their calories. Stick with water (feel free to squeeze lemon or lime into it or try frozen fruit as a sweet treat), unsweetened iced tea, coffee (stick to no more than 2 cups per day) or seltzer water. A study from Tufts University in Boston looked at the association between sugar-sweetened drinks and the nutritional habits of 947 adults. It was found that those who drank the most sugary beverages, like soda, had a higher risk of obesity and a lower intake of fiber. Enjoy an occasional alcoholic beverage, but think moderation. When you celebrate, opt for wine, beer, or a drink mixed with club soda. Mixed drinks made with margarita mix, orange or other juices, and Coke often have more calories than the alcohol.
Consume More Vegetables & Fruits
We all know vegetables and fruits are healthy, but so many of us still fail to consume adequate amounts during the day. Vegetables and fruits provide our bodies with important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which help to keep our immune systems strong, our energy levels high, and our digestive systems functioning optimally. Aim to have fruits and vegetables make up half of each meal. Include fruit at your breakfast, and make half your plate full of vegetables at both lunch and dinner. Your snacks in between main meals should include one of the two as well. Think combinations such as Greek yogurt and berries, baby carrots and hummus, celery with all-nautral peanut butter, or string cheese and an apple.
Limit the Sauces
Keep in mind that excess calories are well hidden in sauces. Instead of drowning your pasta with alfredo sauce, opt for tomato sauce. Having a sandwich? Try hummus or mustard instead of mayonnaise. Salad dressings also pack a caloric punch. Make your own using olive oil and your favorite type of vinegar as the base - add plain non-fat Greek yogurt for creamy varieties and play around with spices to find your favorite flavors!
Go Easy on the Nut Butters
I love peanut, almond and other nut butters just as much as you do, but a spoonful here and there adds up to a lot of excess calories. While they offer a moderate source of protein, healthy fat, and fiber, be careful with your portion. A serving size is two level tablespoons, so avoid having more than this per day.
Don't Allow It in Your Home
Avoid bringing tempting foods into your home. If you know they're there, you know you're going to eat them. Do you keep telling yourself you're getting the food for soemone else in your home, but in the end you end up eating it? It's much easier to win the battle at the grocery store than at the dinner table!
Do It Yourself
Preparing a meal at home is always going to provide fewer calories than going out to eat. This is due to the fact that you are able to control the ingredients and the portion sizes. For the nights you're too busy to cook, stock your pantry and freezer ahead of time with these staples: vegetable and bean soups (I prefer Amy's low sodium varieties), a frozen vegetable pizza (try Kashi pizzas - be mindful of your portion...1/3 of the pizza is a serving), brown rice you can microwave, a can of black beans and salsa (try these three together for an easy, yet healthy meal). In order to make a brown-bag lunch as quick and easily as possible, double dinner recipes so that you'll have leftovers. Chili and lasagna made with lots of vegetables are especially tasty the day after you make them.
Know How Much You're consuming?
I recommend counting your calories - even if it's only for a few days. It's a good idea to get a sense as to what you're consuming on a daily basis and what your caloric needs are as well. Many people find doing so quite tedious, but it's great information and the best way to hold yourself accountable. It's truly the only way to actually quantify the mindless eating taking place. You can either log everything in a small notebook or use an app such as LoseIt, MyFitnessPal or MyPlate.
Evaluate Your Serving Dishes and Utensils
The bigger your utensils and dishes, the more you eat, many studies show. Try using smaller dishes such as a salad plate for your sandwich and piece of fruit at lunch. Less space on the plate makes you feel like you're getting more. Keeping serving dishes off the table also prevents the desire for seconds and thirds.
Be sure to get variety. One of the common mistakes I find my clients make is eating the same breakfast day in and day out. Choose approximately three different breakfast meals and rotate them throughout your week. For example, one day enjoy a high fiber cereal (such as Kashi Go Lean) with skim milk and fruit; try a Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup berries; 1/2 cup steel cut oatmeal made with skim milk, 1/2 oz unsalted shaved almonds, and raisins; or 2 scrambled eggs with 1 slice whole grain toast and 1 cup mixed fruit. The variety will prevent you from getting bored with your dietary intake and will keep your body guessing and your metabolism going!
Again, variety is key. Rotate three to five meals. Try: mixed green salads topped with a protein source (go easy on high-calorie toppings such as creamy dressings, bacon bits, nuts, hardboiled eggs, and full-fat cheese), sandwiches on whole grain (hold the mayo - use mustard or hummus instead and add plenty of vegetables), eggs (such as a vegetable omlette - if you didn't have them at breakfast), and broth-based soups with protein and vegetables. Always include fruit or a side of vegetables.
Mix it up by rotating five healthy meals each week. Try different types of protein such as chicken, fish, lean steak, bison, eggs, tofu, or beans. Include a whole grain such as brown or wild rice, quinoa, buckwheat, bulgar, barley or whole grain pasta (be sure to stick to 1/2 - 3/4 cup for a serving). Always include vegetables, which should make up 1/2 your plate. Be sure to keep your meals interesting by changing the vegetable and fruit sides and mixing up the preparation of the entree. Try grilling your meats and vegetables, a stir-fry, or roasted vegetables.
COMMON ROADBLOCKS & SOLUTIONS:
ROADBLOCK: You're famished
Eat something with protein, carbs, and fiber like plain, fat-free Greek yogurt with a cup of berries. Avoid letting yourself get too hungry by eating small, frequent meals during the day. When you're super hungry, you'll find it difficult to stop eating and inevitably will crave sugary and carb-laden foods.
ROADBLOCK: It's a special occasion!
Be sure to allow yourself to celebrate, but do so moderately. Have a (small) piece of cake or decide for yourself what's "worth" having. No good will come of trying to "save up" calories. Eat your normal meals and snacks so you're not starving by the time the big event comes along.
ROADBLOCK You're injured
An injury doesn't mean you can't eat well. Strive to stay consistent with your healthy eating habits regardless of how frutstrated you may be with your injury. You'll get better soon enough and due to your healthy eating, getting back into your regular exercise routine will be easier than ever!
ROADBLOCK You're unmotivated
Surround yourself, either virtually or in person, with like-minded people. Join a running group or a charity organization training for a race; accountability is motivating and one of the best keys to success!
Healthy wishes and Happy New Year!