Losing weight is not just about exercising. You could exercise nearly all day, but if you’re not eating well it won’t make much of a difference. But don’t worry, eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to give up delicious tasting food and only eat carrot sticks and lettuce. But it also doesn’t mean eating any old junk you want and pairing it with one of those ‘miracle’ weight loss pills. Eating healthy to lose weight is all about, choice, balance, proportions and convenience.
Making Healthy Food Choices to Lose Weight
While no particular food is ‘evil’ (unless you’re allergic to it) there are some which are better for you than others.
Whole Grains Vs. Processed Grains: With carbohydrates, you want to go for whole grains, which are complex carbs, as opposed to processed grains, like white bread, which are simple carbs. This is because complex carbs take longer for your body to break down, thus avoiding strong spikes and drops in your blood sugar level.
Whole Fruits Vs. Fruit Juices: With fruit, the whole fruit is better than fruit juice since it acts as a source of fiber and doesn’t have any additional sugars.
Fresh Veggies: Fresh vegetables are always good, but if you plan on storing them for a while, frozen vegetables tend to have more nutrients and won’t go bad as quickly.
Natural foods: A good rule of thumb is to choose things that are as close to the form that they originally came from. Also, read the ingredients list. If you can’t read it, don’t eat it. If there are more than a few words that take effort to pronounce correctly, choose something else.
Balanced Diets: Sadly many diets vilify carbohydrates, sugars, fruit, red meat, and more, which can make people forget the importance of a balanced diet. The truth is no food is actually bad, provided you consume it in moderation. A balanced diet is one that provides you with all the nutrients and energy (a.k.a calories) you need.
This also means not denying yourself constantly, which can lead to binging. If you want to have a piece of cake, have one. But make it a small piece and maybe just once a day instead of with every meal.
Portion Control: The best foods won’t do you any good if you eat copious amounts of them. Portion control is just as important as a balanced diet. One serving of meat is about the size of a deck of playing cards. This appears very small if you aren’t used to it, but remember you need to bulk up your meal with vegetables.
Smaller Plates: Another thing to keep in mind is the average size of a dinner plate has grown from about 8.5” in the 1960s to about 12” now. Our caloric needs have not increased by almost 30% in the last 50 years, but our consumption has. A smaller plate is a good way to help trick your brain into being satisfied with smaller portions until your body realized you’re full.
Prep Work: Choosing good food is the first step to eating well, but if you don’t make it easy to eat at home, you won’t benefit from your good choices. Make healthy eating quick and convenient with a little prep work once or twice a week. Keep a bowl full of fruit on the counter for easy snacking. When you get your vegetables home, chop them up and place them in a dish for a quick snack. Making dinner every night can be time consuming, so make extra and package it up in the freezer right away for a homemade dinner without the fuss later in the week.
Healthy Snacking: Snack healthy with fresh vegetable salads, whole fruits, unsalted nuts, dry fruits like dates, homemade popcorns (avoid pre-packaged popcorn), lean meats and whole grain foods. Sunflower or pumpkin seeds are also great snacks. You can chew them all the time and still stay safe of additional calorie intake.
Food Journals: Keeping a record of the food you eat and the beverages you consume is a great way to keep track of unhealthy eating habits. Review your food journal at the end of each day to find out how healthy you are eating as compared to the previous day. This will subconsciously help you eat healthy foods and avoid the bad ones as time progresses.
Learning to eat healthy is just like any other habit. It takes at least a few weeks for it to stop feeling like a huge chore, but keep at it and know that every small change you implement makes a big difference in your long term health and weight loss goals.