In addition to working with a personal trainer, one of the major factors that has contributed to helping me lose weight is changing my eating habits. What I’ve realized is that no matter how much I exercise, it doesn’t matter if I keep eating crap.
The turning point for me was having a Google Sheet where I record what I eat each day and the fitness activities/steps taken. I haven’t gotten to the point of recording portion-sizes and estimated calories yet. I know there are apps out there that do that, but it’s a pain to go through the lists and guesstimate if the portions/calories are correct.
Instead, I’ve opted to make healthier food choices and trust that my body will tell me when I am full. Note: it’s still a work in progress. I have days when my tummy-is-full sensor is malfunctioning. Or maybe I’m just doing a good job of ignoring it.
What I find amusing is that the idea of having to record what I eat sometimes makes me NOT want to eat. There is something good to be said about laziness. 😉
Anyway, here are some diet tips that have worked in helping me lose weight:
- Choose one meal to be grain-free. Concentrate on proteins/vegetables.
- Have soup for a meal. Think broths with vegetables and/or legumes, not cream-based or starchy ones. This works for me because I’m not fond of salads.
- Drink water when feeling peckish—sometimes thirst can be mistaken for hunger. Also, drink higher pH water or lemon water (even though it’s acidic) to help alkalize blood, which in turn helps with metabolism.
- Reduce consumption of processed foods. (Hint: if you don’t buy it, you won’t eat it.) However, if you do end up buying snacks, opt for ones with ingredients you can read and are considered healthy (organic, non-GMO, dairy-free, gluten-free). Generally they’ll be more expensive, so think of it as a “snack tax.”
- Snack wisely. Proteins/healthy fats are good—nuts, avocado, coconut, legumes. Fiber is good—veggies, fruits (in smaller quantities—choose from items on the lesser side of the glycemic index, such as berries). Dark chocolate (72% and above) is fine.
- Drink smart. Avoid soda, sugary beverages, fake sugar. If you must drink coffee, drink it black. Consider switching to green tea which is a great stimulant with lots of good antioxidants/health benefits.
- Cut dairy. Watch Food, Inc. to learn why dairy is overrated as a source of calcium.
- Plan ahead. As the saying goes, “If you don’t plan ahead, plan to fail.” Keep a repertoire of easy-to-make, fail-safe menus; buy in-season produce; take advantage of special sales (lean meats, wild-caught seafood).
- When dining out, aim to eat only half of what’s on your plate and try to bring home leftovers. Or better yet, order only from appetizers/starters and split dessert. Some restaurants are good about serving half-portions and setting aside the other half for you to take home. This is helpful if you’re a “must clean plate” type of person like me.
- Try out new foods/combinations. I never thought I’d find a green vegetable that I’d like, until I tried brussels sprouts for the first time this year. I also discovered my love of quinoa and oatmeal with shredded coconut, hemp seeds, dried cranberries, Earth Balance, coconut milk, with a touch of brown sugar.
- Eat smaller portions. My trainer, Alex, has recently challenged me further by having me split my meals into two smaller portions (only eating the 2nd half if I’m truly hungry). This is tough for me because I’ve always been a three-square-meals-plus-dessert girl.
- Recognize unhealthy food triggers/cravings and learn to work through them. For me, the TV room is my Achilles heel. I want to snack while watching TV. I also know that I crave unhealthy foods when I’m really stressed or PMS-ing. Sometimes it’s talking it out with a buddy. Sometimes it’s leaving the room and drinking a full glass of water before going back in. Sometimes it’s going with the craving, but then making penance with exercise afterward.
- Forgive yourself. Yes, you’ve made some poor choices in the past, but it doesn’t mean you have to punish yourself ad infinitum. Each day is a new day. Each meal is a chance to make healthy choices. Most importantly, it’s OK to throw out food. That goes for unhealthy food, food that’s going bad, leftovers that you don’t want/need to eat. I’m still working on not eating my daughter’s leftovers.
- Stick to the plan, but if you fall off the wagon, get back on. Let’s face it—we’re human and we will make mistakes. One setback isn’t equal to failure. It’s the sum of our choices—good or bad—that determine outcome.
- Remind yourself why you’re choosing to eat for health. When all is said and done, nothing is more valuable than health because it contributes to the quality of your life and being able to enjoy time with loved ones. Eat healthy because you’re worth it.