Fuel Your Body
It’s National Nutrition Month. Wow. Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Well, it really is, or it can be. We are all trying to become healthier or should be. One of the best ways to do this is through healthy eating. This doesn’t have to be a terrible thing. In fact, I guarantee it will be the best thing you can do for your body, your weight, and your health throughout your life. It comes down to learning how to shop, cook, and prepare nutrient-rich foods that taste great and provide your body with essential nutrients for fuel.
If you think about it, we often take better care of our cars than we do our bodies. We give them premium grade gasoline, take them in for oil changes, tire rotations, engine checks, and keep them clean so that they run for as long and as good as they can. We often times don’t do the same for our own bodies. If we did, we’d feel a lot better, have better health, live longer, look better, have better mental health, and many other things in our lives would be improved.
So many in our country have very bad eating habits that have produced excess fat accumulation on our bodies and around our organs causing major disease to occur. Obesity is at an all-time high and our diets are to blame. How can we change? First is portion control. Next comes meal planning. For those who do need to lose fat (notice I didn’t say weight, I said fat, because we want to keep muscle and remove fat), it’s very important to plan your daily meals and snacks, including lean proteins at each meal, complex carbohydrates, and small amounts of fats at each meal. Most of the fat we need is already in our lean meats and vegetable sources and we don’t need to add additional amounts. Additional fats added (like butter and oil) will very quickly add enormous amounts of calories to our diets (and hips).
Most of us are very bad at estimating how many calories we consume and underestimate the amount we eat by 30-40%. We eat too many fats and simple carbohydrates (sugars, breads, sweets, chips, etc) and even though we eat tons of calories, we are literally starving our bodies and continue to be hungry because we are eating such poor nutrient diets.
Tips for success:
Keep a food log daily.
Plan your meals and snacks a day ahead of time at least. Weekly is a better idea, so you can shop for the week.
Your carbohydrates should be complex. What does this mean? If you can’t pick or gather it, then don’t eat it. Vegetables are the best. Add in a couple of fruits each day. Avoid super starchy veggies (corn, potatoes, winter squash, etc.) except in small amounts. Vary what you eat in color and try to eat lots of different items each day and each meal.
Buy lean meats and trim fat from your meats and remove skin from chicken prior to cooking to reduce calories and excess fats. You should plan to include at least 4-5 portions daily (about 4 oz. portions on average). This, of course, varies and may be more for some, but most do need more protein.
Marinate your meats for the best flavor using your own spice blends, fresh herbs, mustards, vinegars, etc. Bake, grill, or broil your meats/veggies (or steam).
Make your own food from scratch. Don’t buy prepared foods. They are full of sodium, fats, sugars, preservatives, and additional calories and other additives.
To lose even a pound each week, you will need to decrease calories by 500 each day under your estimated total daily energy expenditure. This is the amount of calories you need daily based on your current body weight and the amount of energy and exercise you do daily. Most of us are sedentary/lightly active.
Don’t drink your calories—EVER!! Drink water, tea, plain coffee. Sweeten with Stevia if you must. Get rid of soda forever.
It’s very common to get cravings at first, particularly if you eat lots of sugary foods, breads, pasta, crackers, etc. This will pass after 2-4 weeks. Just get through it. You can do it. We were not designed to eat these foods on a regular basis.
Don’t give up on eating healthy. If you make good choices 90% of the time, you will be doing great things for your body.
Eat to live, don’t live to eat! I, myself, love to cook and eat, but I will make healthy meals that taste great. Don’t make other food for your kids. That’s absurd. They should be eating this way, too.
Shari J. Twigg, MD