One of the most common questions people ask me is, “What kind of diet do I need to go on to lose weight?”. My answer is this, “There isn’t a diet that will help you. Changing your eating habits is what will allow you to succeed.”
What I mean is this, changing the way you eat, what you eat and how you view eating combined are what you have to look at.
CHANGING THE WAY YOU EAT
We’ve all been in the situation where we only have a few minutes to grab something quick to eat. Fast food is , well, fast. So we choose fast food, the most unhealthy option as far as I’m concerned. So what can you do to not fall into this trap? First is to plan ahead.
If you know you have a crazy schedule and limited time to eat the next day you should make a healthy meal the evening before or purchase something healthy the night before or morning of that day. Quick, healthy options are abundant. You must seek them out. I personally like build your own take out. Places like Barbacoa and Chipotle allow you to build your meal. By making healthier choices such as chicken or chopped steak instead of ground beef, you’ll reduce a lot of calories from fat. You can also forgo things like sour cream that is 100% fat, or ask them add less of it. This way you are taking control of the way you eat instead of hunger controlling how you eat.
CHANGING WHAT YOU EAT
Second is changing what you eat. I’ve already recommended avoiding fast food. The second thing I also recommend against is drinking soda. Soda is extremely high in sugar and diet soda with artificial sweetener makes you crave foods that have a higher sugar index. This can lead to over consumption of sugar (The explanation for this is too lengthy to go into here). Some people have trouble with sugar and processed foods. Their bodies react differently than other peoples and they put on weight as a result. Avoiding or experimenting with changes to your existing eating habits can be beneficial if this is the case. I know many people who exclude wheat and processed foods and found that they feel better and lost a great deal of weight.
Another component that I feel is very important to changing what you eat is to be able to read a food label. It takes a little practice, but after a while you can look at a label and know weather you want to buy the product or not. Here is how you do it: First look at the number of calories per serving. This is on the upper left of the label. This is how many calories you eat per size of the serving. The next bit of information the label gives you is how many calories from fat are in each serving. This is just to the right of calories. You can calculate the percentage of calories from fat you’re getting I each serving. What is recommended is less than 30%. If you take you calculator and enter the number of calories from fat and divide those by the total calories you get the percentage. Let’s do a real example: Ground beef that is 97% lean or 7% fat is not actually 7% fat. Mind blown! Here’s why. 97% ground beef is 170 calories per serving size. Seventy of those calories come from fat. 70/170 = .41 or 40%. Ground beef that is 7% fat is actually 41% fat by calories. Eleven percent higher than is recommended. It’s because the labeling is by weight. Seven percent of the weight is fat. But fat has over twice the number of calories for the same weight of either carbohydrate or protein. 1 gram of fat = 9 calories, 1 gram of carbohydrate is 4 calories and 1 gram of protein is also 4 calories. If you include alcohol it is 7 calories per gram, also high in calories. so you must look at the label and do the math in order to determine how many calories your eating from fat, protein or carbs. To calculate carbs or protein you must first find the number of grams of carbohydrate on the label. A bag of tortilla chips might have 19 grams of carbs. So 19 x 4 = 76 calories from carbs. Calories per serving is 140 so 76/140 = .54 or 54% of the calories in tortilla chips is from carbs. A little high in my personal opinion, but within recommendations. So you get my point. Try this with milk and see how many calories of fat is in the milk you drink. You’ll be surprised, except for skim milk.
CHANGING HOW YOU VIEW EATING
How do you view eating? In most societies eating is done to ease hunger, to celebrate events and to just have the pleasure of eating tasty foods. Unfortunately many people use eating as a coping mechanism for their lives. One woman I worked with when I was conducting my research at the University of Utah told me that food was her go to for everything. She ate when she was stressed, happy, sad, angry, whatever. Every emotion revolved around eating. As a result she weighed nearly 350 pounds. She did two things to manage her weight and the diseases that came with obesity. First, she went to counseling to find out why she coped by eating and to learn what her triggers were. This allowed her to recognize when she might be most vulnerable and use coping strategies to avoid over eating behavior. Second, she had the type of bariatric weight loss surgery that would make her violently ill if she over ate. She said she felt she needed a strong negative stimulus to help her avoid over eating. Many, many people are I the same boat. I personally eat when I’m bored, even when I’m not hungry. Recognizing how you view eating will help you down the path to healthier eating.
Lastly, most people cannot successfully change their entire diet over night from unhealthy to healthy. Don’t try unless you have serious medical conditions and then seek help from a physician and dietitian. Start by making small changes. Here are some examples; If you eat sausage for breakfast change to bacon and trim some of the fat. If you put mayonnaise on everything put less, eat whole grain rice instead of white rice, try sorbet over ice cream, juice over cola. Learning to eat healthier is a journey. Remember that.