I've been "dieting" since I was in my early twenties. I started Weight Watchers when they offered it at my job. That was a great place to start, because they really do focus on more of a lifestyle change than any kind of diet. By 2007 I had really reached a good point where I was better at practicing a healthy lifestyle instead of that four letter word. I've had my issues over the years with falling off the wagon, binge eating, sneaky eating, etc, but last year was the worst. When you're sick, all you want to do is eat, even if it doesn't make your stomach feel better, there's something to be said for a serotonin boost. Now that I'm feeling so much better, it's a lot easier to eat healthier. I rarely binge because most of the junk food out there has ingredients in it that I can't eat. Spring and summer weather also helps, because I crave fresh fruits and veggies. But it's not just what you put in your mouth that makes a difference, it's how you think about food, how you eat it, when you eat it, where you eat it... I'm trying to re-train my brain. I'm working on that saying that we learned in WW. Eat to live, don't live to eat! Here are a few changes I've been making to get back to a healthy routine:
Eat small, balanced meals, all day long. I get up around 6:30 and take a shower and get ready for work and by the time I leave the house at 7:30 I'm starving. It's important to eat soon after you wake up to get that metabolism going! The past few mornings, I've just grabbed a banana. Around 9:30 I eat some oatmeal, or fruit and peanut butter. Lunch is around noon, another snack at 3, dinner at 6. I try to eat a balance of carbs/protein/healthy fat at each meal. It doesn't always work out perfectly that way but as long as I'm eating something that's nutrient rich and not full of sugar or sodium, I'm good to go. Eating all day like this is a great way to keep your metabolism going, keep your energy level up, you won't get those spikes and dips in blood sugar that can cause that craving for an afternoon nap, or cookies...
Eat this, not that. Instead of a sugary breakfast bar, opt for some fruit. The more nutrients, vitamins and minerals you get out of your food, the better. Plus, the more nutritious your food, the better it digests. A sugary breakfast bar will cause your blood sugar to spike, giving you a quick burst of energy, but what comes up must go down and very quickly you'll be tired and HUNGRY again. And you're likely to crave more of that sugar! An apple and peanut butter will digest more slowly, keep you fuller longer, and supply you with lots of vitamins and healthy fat.
Slow down, Sit down, Savor. These days we're all on the run, all the time, but try not to let yourself get in the habit of eating on the go. Take the extra 5 minutes to sit at a table and eat your food slowly, chew it thoroughly, and savor the taste. It takes around 15 to 20 minutes for your brain to register that you've eaten and then tell you that you're full. If you eat too fast, you're more likely to eat too much because you won't get that full signal. This is the one I need to work on the most! I have always been the one that has finished her dinner before anyone else even sits down at the table. My family calls it "The Hoover Maneuver"... how embarrassing! And of course, I always eat too much and over-stuff myself.
Don't forget to hydrate!! Our bodies are made of primarily of water. It's essential, so drink up! I always have a bottle of water close by and refill it often during the day. Aim for at least 8 glasses (8oz each) of water per day, or take half of your body weight and drink that many ounces. If you aren't a big fan of water, try clear, 100% juices, or other fluids that are low in calories and additives, try not to "drink your calories."
Indulge! Deprivation is not the answer. I'm sure you've heard it beofore, "everything in moderation." If you go crazy and cut out all the treats, you're setting yourself up for failure. Unless you've got an iron will... but who does? Honestly. Eat that treat you're craving now, before it turns into a full blown binge. It's not gonna kill you, or sabotage your efforts, if anything it will help you reach your goal.
These are probably the 5 most important "rules" I try to follow. They're the basics. Follow these and you'll succeed. I didn't mention exercise, that's another post entirely. What do you think? Do you like my health tips? I've been a fitness instructor for almost 4 years, so I'm not just making this stuff up, and I'd like to keep writing these kinds of posts, not only for myself but for others that could use them. I know it's a new direction for this blog so I'd love to know what you think. I plan on posting recipes, tips, product reviews, just like I always have, but with a healthy spin. I'll still be talking about my gf/cf adventures of course! And lots of photos, because you know how much I love to post them! Let me know what you think or if you have suggestions for future posts. Thanks! :)