I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist, but after 8 years of my weight loss journey, I feel that I’ve learned a few basic and essential nutrition tips for improved health and well-being that everyone should be aware of.
I wish I had a magic fix, a pill, a drink or a cure to bring everyone to a place of good health. I can’t give you that. What I can give you is a few tips that have helped me. It wasn’t easy and I failed….a lot. But, I am coming out of this intact. I thought giving up my old “ways” would change me and I was afraid of that. It did change me, however, I think I am a better person for it.
Here are a few nutrition tips that I’ve learned along the way. Again, this is not Heather wisdom…but a kind of sense I have that might not seem so common in this diet and exercise age.
1. Do not skip meals. Ever. I find that my body would really hold on to the fat in a meal if I skipped lunch. By skipping breakfast you are destined to fail any diet or lifestyle change. A bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats doesn’t count, either. Don’t be fooled by the word wheat. Dieting should not be about deprivation. Do not eat things that you do not actually like. Take your favorite meals and look for healthier substitutes.
I love this recipe for sausage breakfast pizza. It feels indulgent, but it’s actually much healthier than a fully loaded pizza.
2. Do not use food/drinks as a reward for a good grade, a promotion or any other personal or family celebration. I know this may seem obvious, but you will find that when something good happens you think ” Let’s get a drink…let’s go out for ice cream”! Don’t. See a movie, go to a park, play the Wii for an extra 15 minutes with your kids on a school night instead.
3. Add vegetables to every dish. Whether is is a chopped Roma tomato in your morning scramble, a cup of frozen mixed vegetables for lunch with a few rolls of lean turkey or a serving of broccoli for dinner. Purchase a grater and grate seasonal vegetables into your mac ‘n cheese or mashed potatoes until you get used to amping up your veggie load. Always have a colorful plate!
4. Avoid dieting fads. What worked for that one person who wrote that book and their test group may not necessarily work for you or your lifestyle. Always consult a doctor first before starting a new diet and exercise regimen. A good time for this would be at your annual health exam (yes, you should have one every year).
5. It’s OK to want carbs. As a matter of fact, it is easy to substitute whole wheat pasta for your regular white pasta and rice dishes. It really is more filling and you will eat less of it. This Coconut Chicken over Ginger Soy Soba (Buckwheat) Noodles is completely crave-worthy, but it’s also healthier than eating white, starchy carbs.
6. Moderation. The average meal portion should be 1/2 cup or the size of your palm. I am a very slow eater so one thing I have in my favor is that I actually eat slow enough to taste my meal! Take a few bites followed by a few drinks of water with lemon and you will be surprised at how much less you eat. I also use a smaller dinner plate. One thing I have started doing is to put leftover food into reusable containers after I have plated my families dinner. That way it is in the refrigerator and not on my plate.
7. Read the labels. Nutrition information is so thorough these days there is no excuse to NOT know what is in the food you eat. Don’t just focus on the calories and carbs. Look at saturated fat, sodium, sugar and fats. These things add up. Also, pay attention to the serving sixes. Sure those 100 calorie packs are great. Not if you eat 3 of them, though.
8. You are what you drink…. I used to be a soda-holic. Diet, regular…It didn’t matter. I would drink 3 to 4 32 oz sodas a day or 1 or 2 coffee drinks. I also drank a lot of water, I always have. At my worst I consumed between 800-1000 calories in just what I drank alone on any given day. That was the first and easiest thing to cut out. Along with that are sugary mixed drinks ie: margarita’s and daiquiris. Sad but true that 8 oz. vodka and orange juice can really pack a caloric punch…and a spike in blood sugar. Do not mistake hunger for thirst. I probably consumed a few hundred calories a day just from snacking when I wasn’t actually hungry but really just thirsty. One great result of all of the water I drink is clearer skin!
If you don’t like plain water, try this recipe for infused water that I made on IndyStyle.
I just try to think before I eat. I know this is easier said than done. It’s hard to eat well when you spend 8 hours at work, then another 2 or 3 hours in a car playing Mom Taxi. Resist the urge to hit a drive through. It takes a while to get used to but if you take a stand for you and your families health and do not waver eventually they will follow suit. It took my kids a good year to get the hint that no matter how much they whined I was not going to Wendy’s for 99 cent chicken nuggets!
I try not to focus on the number that shows on the scale. I resist counting calories or following fad diets. I took a little time to learn about food and exercise and applied that to my family’s lifestyle.Do what feels right to your situation, you will be happier in the end. You will feel healthier and like me…you can do a 5K or half marathon. You just have to take the first step ????
I have come to realize that food had become my greatest pleasure and my worst enemy. Food became my drama. It held center stage in my life.
It all boils down to this… some of the best nutrition tips that I have to offer:
Use healthy recipes, make small changes that are manageable, get active and make more of your meals at home. Read labels and don’t fall into fads. Find something you love to do that involves movement and do it like it’s your job to. You’ll be glad you did.