I love food. I love to eat. So granted, I have learned to cut calories and eat healthier wherever I can to avoid the excess pounds. I often get asked, “how do you not weigh 500lbs?” Here are some tips I practice that have kept the pounds off, despite my love for food:
1. Don’t drink your calories. Drinks contain a very surprising amount of calories and sugar, especially fruit juices and sodas. Most manufactured fruit juices lack all the fiber that real fruit contains, but has all the sugar. So it doesn’t fill you up and it loads you up with sugar all under the pretense that it is “healthy.” Eat your fruit; don’t drink it. Soda is even worse, as it does not contain any nutrients at all. Water, water, water is your best friend! According to the Mayo Clinic, about 60% of the adult body is composed of water. You are what you drink! Herbal teas and coffee can also be beneficial, ideally with little/no sugar and/or cream.
2. Replace unhealthy fats/spreads/dressings with smarter choices. Avoid “butter-like” substances (margarine, vegetable spreads) or high calorie condiments (like mayonnaise or creamy salad dressings) and replace them for healthier spreads and toppings. I like to use guacamole or hummus as a spread instead of “mayo” for added protein and nutrition on sandwiches/ burgers or even as a the “dressing” in my salads. I’ve replaced processed vegetable oils with healthier oils, such as those derived from plant sources (and that occur naturally in nuts, seeds, olives and avocados). If you are going to use butter, it’s best to use real butter from grass-fed cows or Ghee butter, and use in moderation.
3. Watch your added sugars. According to the Mayo Clinic, “The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that added sugars make up no more than 10 percent of your daily calories.” I was shocked the other day when I happened to discover that one 20 oz bottle of Fanta grape soda has 81g of sugar and 300 calories! Sugar is slipped into almost everything we eat, and it adds up at the end of the day. I have seen it added to pasta sauce, canned beans, salad dressings and more. I challenge you to look for added sugars in every food product you buy, and you’d be surprised how much sugar you are actually eating per day. Not to mention candy, cookies, cakes and donuts–you might as well inject the sugar right into your veins!
4. Replace white, refined grains with whole grains. I made a switch from white rice to brown rice, white bread/flour tortillas to whole wheat, regular pasta with whole wheat or lentil pasta. The switch may take some getting used to, but I can honestly say I don’t even miss the refined foods anymore. I stay fuller longer, and I learned to appreciate the taste.
5. Don’t waste your calories on something you don’t like or for the sake of finishing your food. Oftentimes I will be offered a treat at work or a party that I don’t like. I kindly take a taste (as to not offend the baker) and then I throw the rest away later. Some things are not worth the calories; save them for a treat you will truly enjoy and be satisfied with. Also, at dinner time I have learned to listen to my body and stop eating when I’m full. We have been trained from infancy to finish the food in front of us. Make an intentional decision to eat what only you need, not what it would take to finish the plate or package of food.
6. Get Full on The Good Stuff First! Start with your veggies and/or leafy greens! Find the healthiest foods on your plate and concentrate on filling yourself up with them first. It’s helpful to remember that at least half of your plate should be veggies. Eat the proteins next and then whatever is left over (usually the starch or carbs). By then, you might find you won’t need to finish the rest!
7. Count chemicals, not calories. Last but not least, although it’s important to watch our overall calorie intake each day, it’s easier to reduce calories when you focus on eating nutritious foods over “food-like substances” that are full of chemicals, fillers, added sugars and preservatives. The less processed, the better! Processed foods tend to leave you wanting… Aim for foods with 5 ingredients or less–these foods tend to be healthier, higher in nutrition and fiber, and more satisfying. Optimally you should aim to eat clean– whole foods untouched by man.
Some of these tips might take some getting used to, but healthier choices will always contain less calories and be more filling. So go ahead and love food– just do it with the right kinds!
Fruit Juice is Just as Unhealthy as a Sugary Drink – By Kris Gunnars, BSc
The 5 Best Healthy Fats for Your Body – By Dr. Josh Axe
Added sugars: Don’t get sabotaged by sweeteners – By Mayo Clinic Staff