Food: Revisited

I know I have talked about this before (and likely will again), but this remains the number one question people ask me:

“What are you eating?”

The truth is, I probably do not eat like many other people losing weight (or trying to lose weight).  I do not count calories.  I do not count grams of anything (protein, fat, salt, etc.).  I do not choose “low-fat” or “no fat” varieties of most foods I eat.

Calories stress me out.  I can never seem to get that right.  I am either eating way too much in order to meet the required number, or I am eating way too little (retricted) and starving.  Either way will lead to failure.  I eat when I feel truly hungry (not bored, angry, lonely, etc.), which just happens to work out to be around every 3 to 4 hours.  I eat until I am no longer hungry.  This is not the equivalent to, “Oh my gosh.  I am so stuffed I can barely move.”  Feeling that way is a clear indicator you ate *way* too much.

Nutrition information is overwhelming (and often conflicting).  Some reputable sources say, “Eat loads of protein!”  Other sources say limit animal proteins to only a few days a week.  Something I have learned over my journey…my body knows what it needs.  I just have to listen.  When my body needs protein, guess what?  I crave it.  When my body needs something else, another craving.  Over time I have figured out how to eat…for *my* body.  I may not; however, be eating enough of one thing or another for *your* body.  We are all different.  We all require different amounts of different things to operate at *our* maximum.

I eat full-fat cheese and sour cream.  I eat bread (100% whole wheat) and pasta (again, whole wheat).  These are things most “dieters” avoid like the plague.  What they do not seem to understand, though, is that *most* “low-fat” or “no fat” products contain many other horrible things (such as an excess of sodium or sugar).  What you are trading in fat (or even reduced calories) is a significant increase in chemicals.  Full-fat cheese is natural.  Natural is good.

I eat fat…and quite a bit of it.  I am willing to bet I consume *far* more fats than the average “dieter.”  My fats come from avocado, nuts, coconut oil, and other healthy (natural) sources.  These are *not* the equivalent of the fat content of a triple decker cheeseburger from McDonald’s, though.  Healthy fats, and our bodies need them.

Recently, another girl came to me with serious inquisition…she wants desperately to lose weight (so she said).  The minute I said, “What you eat is more of the equation than what you do with your body,” was the minute she tuned me out.  It is the truth, though, eating is more than 75% of weight loss.  All the working out I do is more for muscle, endurance, fitness, and hopefully less chance of ever having “saggy skin.”  Food is where the magic really happens.

The biggest pieces of advice I can give anyone with the goal of weight loss are these (in no specific order):

-Ditch as much processed foods as you can.  Avoid trans fat (hydrogenated oils) and high fructose corn syrup.  Read nutrition and ingredient labels (there are millions of products containing these things that you would never suspect).  Eat more raw veggies and fruits.  Stay away from fast food joints.
-Be honest with yourself about your goals and how much work it is *really* going to take to meet them.  I have found people often set *huge* goals with the expectation of little effort.
-Find a way to keep yourself accountable.  This is a *huge* one.  People often turn to friends for support, which is nice.  The problem?  Friends often let you “slip” when you should not because they have an emotional attachment to you. “Oh, girl, I know you needed that brownie after that happened.  I would have eaten two!”  People who are not emotionally invested in your life are far more likely to keep it real…and keep you on track.
-Figure out what (if any) your trigger foods are…then curb it/them.  Almost everyone I know has at least one food that triggers them to overeat.  Find out what yours are, and then be more aware of it.  If you can, avoid eating it/them for a while.  If you cannot, do not allow yourself to overeat.  Stay conscious while you are eating, and force yourself to eat more slowly (which will allow you to feel that sensation of satisfaction *before* you stuff yourself).
-Do not eat while doing other things.  If you eat while watching television – stop.  You are far more likely to overeat simply because you are not paying attention to your body’s signals.
-Keep a food journal.  Seriously.  Write down *every single morsel* that enters your mouth.  When starting out, write down portion sizes, too.  You may be eating *far* more than what you think you are…especially if you are a grazer/snacker.

This is just a short list of things that have helped me in relation to eating/food…and I hope they can help some of you, too.

My goal for this week is to start posting more about what foods I am eating regularly.  I want to also start sharing more recipes as I find/try them.  So, be looking for that.

Do you have any other hints/tips/tricks that have helped you in your journey that I did not mention?  Please share them in the comments below.

-Erica

11 responses to “Food: Revisited

  1. I do not like the idea of counting calories either – seems to make you focus even more on food! And good for you in taking the decision not to avoid low fat, etc. I have read that these foods actually make you hungrier and have additives in them that are counter-productive to weight loss.

    • The more I think about calories, the more stressed out I get. 🙂 Thinking about it, though, when you eat very little (or no) processed foods, calorie counting becomes less important (I think so, anyway). I would say 90% or more of the foods I eat regularly are fresh, non-processed items. Making “strict dieting” unnecessary…thank goodness!

      -Erica

  2. Great tips! I have learned that I HATE counting (anything). I was doing WW for a while and, as much as I love the concept of the program, I just honestly hate having to count Points for everything. It’s exhausting and tedious and really does get stressful, especially when you’re making a recipe with lots of ingredients (to me, anything over 3 ingredients is “lots”). So now, I’m back to eating when I’m hungry, teaching myself to stop when I’m full and lowering my intake of the processed stuff (mostly wheat and sugars right now since those 2 are the ones I notice the biggest difference with).

    • To be honest, I am not a fan of WW. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it here before or not, but I think it is a waste of money. It reminds me of a well-organized, cleverly disguised scam. Why convert calories to points at all? Why not just teach people to understand calories and how much their bodies really need? Well, that’s simple…if WW taught people how to eat using the methods of quantity already available, people could do it on their own! People would not have to spends thousands and thousands of dollars to remain a member of WW for years (decades) if they understood calories. No, no…so it is like, “Let’s make it *simple* enough that people feel they can do it…but only with our help.” Why is that a good thing? I would rather be educated than have my hand held (with another in my wallet) for my entire life.

      *off my soapbox now* LOL

      -Erica

      • A calorie isn’t just a calorie, though. WW encourages you to understand that 100 calories of bite-sized Oreos shouldn’t be favored over 100 calories of vegetables or whole grains, for example. The Points values take into consideration how much fat, fiber, carbs and proteins are in foods so that you learn to choose foods that are higher in fiber and protein as opposed to fat or carbs (and yes, they do encourage healthy fats, just not the bad fats like in junk food). And as far as paying fees, that’s more for the centers and getting support from the meetings, not so much for the info. I compare it to a gym membership: you can do tons of exercises/workouts at home (hello, free workouts on YouTube!), but a lot of people choose to pay monthly gym fees to get individual help from trainers or to use equipment that will help them reach their goals more efficiently. I, personally, can’t afford either, so that’s why I paid $13 for my 1st visit, got all the info (at no extra cost) and then didn’t go back. I bought an app for my phone ($2.99) which tracked my points and haven’t paid a penny more to WW, but still have all the info I need to use their program. Despite our difference in views here, I completely respect your opinion. 😉 You know your stuff and I admire all you’ve accomplished.

      • You know, Tammy, I never thought of it compared to a gym membership… That helps it make more sense to me. Do they inform you that the calculations of protein, carbs, calories, etc is how they formulate point system? I have never gone to WW, but have had several friends who have. They will almost always choose a 2-point cookie/cake/junk over a 4-point chicken/something healthy if they only have 2 points left for the day. I think that is wrong, though. I would rather go over by 2 points with eating something heathy than stay within my point limit to eat a cookie. Know what I mean?

        I’m sure my views of WW are skewed…especially since I have never attended/joined personally. I have just seen many people struggle (and subsequently fail, miserably) with that program. However, that may be more so the people and not the program (something I honestly hadn’t considered).

        Thanks for filling in some of those gaps, Tammy! 😉
        -Erica

      • (Had to reply up here cuz it didn’t let me down below.) Yes, WW gives you all the info regarding the breakdown of how they calculate points on day 1. I totally agree that not everyone gets the most out of the program because they choose Frankenfood over real food since it’s “allowed.” But that’s not really WW’s fault. They give you the info/tools/resources to learn that REAL foods are best, but still allow a “moderation, not deprivation” approach. How the members choose to eat is up to them. It’s the same with calculating calories: everything has calories, so do some people choose 150 calories of raw nuts or 150 calories of low-cal, low-fat ice cream? As of 2012, WW has actually updated their points system and has made points values HIGHER for most foods, especially junk foods/fast foods. Fruits and veggies are all ZERO points, so they’ve really made a huge overhaul of their program to encourage eating REAL foods over the processed stuff. 🙂 They also have Activity Points (earning by being active) that can give you more points for food. The more active you are, the more extra points you have to eat that treat meal at the end of the week or you don’t have to use them at all (and lose weight faster). I, too, have a problem with them promoting fake foods, but at the same time, I get it. They’re mostly advertising to people who are coming from the SAD, and who probably have no clue about how much better kale is than iceburg. It’s not a perfect program by any means, and there will always be room for improvement, but if it helps to get people eating more fruits and veggies over Twinkies and Doritos, then I’m okay with it, for the most part. 😉 Always lovely chatting with you.

  3. I am so glad you posted this. I’ve counted calories in the past. It always made me depressed. I couldn’t help but think “was I going to have to do this for the rest of my life?” I currently do not count calories. I have removed a lot from my diet…caffiene, red meat, etc. I do try to consume less sodium. My doctor also has said to eat full fat products if you had a choice. Everything in moderation.

    • Moderation is certainly key…and that’s where most people struggle. They do not familiarize themselves with what a serving *really* is, so they do not even know they’re overeating. I am just about 11 months (and 110 pounds) into my journey, and there are *still* foods that trip me up. Cincinnati-style chili with pasta…still a trigger food for me. It probably always will be. When I eat it (which is far less often than it used to be) I make myself eat more slowly and I force myself to stop eating once I am no longer hungry. It is hard…still. I still argue with myself over “one more bite” and it is still frustrating. Although, I would rather be conscious of it (and arguing with myself) than just let myself go and make excuses later. 🙂

      Thanks!
      -Erica

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