In my previous post, I talked about the foundation of success: Mental Health. Now, I want to touch on what I feel is the second most important component to successful weight loss: Nutritional Health.
- Tracking calories. You’ve heard before that it’s as simple as calories in versus calories out, I’m sure. Well it’s not quite that simple, but it is a great place to start. Know what you’re eating! Simply having a general idea of how many calories are in your meal can help you control portion sizes as well as balance your calories throughout the day. It’s true that it isn’t a good idea to eat a ton of calories in one meal and have two smaller meals. Some people say it’s all about maintaining your metabolism throughout the day, but the truth is that it is more about maintaining your blood sugar levels throughout the day. Using a calorie tracking website like My Fitness Pal can really help you know what you’re eating per meal, when you should be eating again, and how much you should eating.
- Sugar is your enemy. Yes, I said it. As I mentioned above, keeping your blood sugar levels stable throughout the day is a key factor in helping to control cravings and that hungry feeling. I love sugar, so this one was a little extra hard for me. My health coach helped me set a practical limit on grams of sugar per day. The first few days were tough, but after my body began to free itself of the addiction, I felt so much better. The afternoon drowsiness subsided, feeling famished in the late afternoon ceased to happen, and I generally had more energy. Do some research on sugar addiction, or insulin resistance to help understand how sugar and low-quality carbohydrates are hindering your ability to lose weight.
- Fat is not your enemy. I know that sounds counter-intuitive. ”But I’m trying to get rid of the fat, why would I want to eat it?” you ask.. Well fat plays an important role in providing our brain with food, preventing Alzheimer’s, and also making us feel full longer. Also, those low-fat foods are awful! Read the ingredients! The fat (read flavor) is replaced with sugar and sugar substitutes. BAD!! And, of course, it is important to eat the right kinds of fat. Coconut oil, real butter, 2% cheeses, Neufchatel cream cheese, 2% Greek yogurt, and 2% cottage cheese are all healthy types of fat that you can add to your diet. You can eat an entire bag of microwavable steamed veggies and not feel very full, but add a pat of real butter and the full feeling is there. Along those same lines, if you’re feeling quite hungry after eating a salad with no dressing, try adding 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and you will feel much more full. Balancing the right kind of fat in your diet is something a with which good nutritional counselor can help.
- Don’t be perfect. Aiming for perfection will only set you up for failure. If you’re reading this, then chances are failure is no longer an option for you. If you can’t live without chocolate, then don’t. Rather than eating the whole bar/bag, however, have half a serving or a few bites. Two or three times per week I sit down in the evening with a sample glass of red wine and one square of Lindt 70% dark chocolate. It’s just enough to satisfy my craving and doesn’t ruin my calorie or sugar limitations for the day. Allow yourself some wiggle room, but be smart about it!
When it comes to this section, I cannot emphasize enough how important education is for success. I knew a few things about eating right, but my nutritional counselor really opened my eyes to a lot of things and gave me the tools I needed to manage my shopping trips and meals on my own. Even if you can only afford one or two sessions, find someone knowledgeable and get some help. If you really can’t afford one (and if you want to know if yours is a crock), then I recommend reading this article: Top 11 Biggest Lies of Mainstream Nutrition.
What are some small nutritional changes that have made a large impact on your success?
Look for my next installment where I dig a little deeper into physical health!