Tag Archives: nutrition

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

Nutrition Talk (as of today)

Nutrition is a complicated subject.  At least for me it is.  The reason I find it complicated is because the information seems to be ever-changing.  One day eggs are “bad” with all their artery-clogging cholesterol.  The next day eggs are “good” with all their muscle-boosting protein.  It gets confusing, and complicated, to try to eat right.

Add to that back-and-forth nonsense all the fad diets that encourage people to cut out entire food groups because they are “bad” (with research backing that claim up, no less)…now you have a serious dilemma when trying to eat healthy.

Of course there are a few areas in which every “expert” seems to agree…trans fats (hydrogenated oils) are bad, excess processed foods with added sugars are bad, and too many calories per day is bad.  All across the board these are accepted to be true.  I suppose those few commonalities are supposed to make us (consumers) feel better about eating.  Well, those rare agreements between “experts” do not make me feel any better.  Not one bit.

Another aspect of nutrition that makes it more complicated for the consumer is language.  When manufacturers were required to label their products with nutrition information and ingredient lists, the language changed.  Sugar was no longer just called “sugar” in most products.  Instead “sugar” became corn syrup or lactose, which deceived consumers into purchasing something they maybe would not have if they knew it was added sugar.

The following are random tidbits I have picked up over the course of the last eight and a half months.  (I am not a nutritionist, nor do I claim to be any sort of expert on this subject.  Additionally, what information is included below is likely to change within a few months/years.)

Sugar is also known as:
barley malt, brown rice syrup, corn syrup, dextrose, evaporated cane juice invert syrup, fructose, fruit juice, galactose, glucose, granular fruit grape juice concentrate, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, maltodextrin, maple syrup, molasses, organic cane juice, sorghum, sucrose, and turbinado (this list is courtesy of WH Big Book of Exercises).

Nutrition “Secrets:”
1. The healthiest foods you probably are avoiding are: pork chops, mushrooms, red-pepper flakes, full-fat cheese, iceberg lettuce, scallops, vinegar, and chicken thighs.
2. Fatty foods you should eat (without guilt) are: meat with flavor (such as bacon, rib eye, dark meat chicken, and ham), whole milk, butter (not margarine), full-fat sour cream, coconut, chicken skin, and eggs.
3. Saturated fat is *not* a nutritional villain.  In fact, most types of saturated fat (there are over 13 types) have a positive effect on cholesterol (and some do not have any effect on cholesterol at all).  This, of course, means that the consumption of saturated fat is in *no way* linked to heart disease risk.
4. Foods that you think are healthy (but probably are not): yogurt with fruit on the bottom (added sugar), baked beans (enough sugar added to equal an 8-oz soft drink), california roll (two main ingredients are white rice and imitation crab), fat-free salad dressing (added sugar), reduced-fat peanut butter (added icing sugar), corn oil (high content of omega-6 relative to omega-3 has been linked to an increase in risk of cancer, arthritis, and obesity).
Info pulled from WH Big Book of Exercises.

The number one problem with my current diet is probably my ratio of carbs to protein.  I will be honest, I am not big on counting calories and I am not big on calculating how much of each nutrient I am consuming each day.  This is about to change, though.  First of all, my weight loss has slowed tremendously.  I think that can be attributed to many factors, one of them being my diet.  It has worked for me up to this point (eight and a half months).  However, now that my activity level is *way* up and the level of intensity is also *way* up, I think it is time to re-evaluate things.

The nutritionist I met with a couple months ago recommended I eat 85 to 90 grams of protein each day, which I easily manage.  However, this book recommends “1 gram of protein per pound of desired body weight.”  That would actually bring me to 180 to 185 grams of protein per day.  They also mention that sometimes that is just too much protein for a person to consume, but say that 125 grams should be considered the minimum requirement.  Maybe if I were consuming that extra 40+ grams of protein my muscles would be recovering more quickly.  When I work really hard (which is majority of the time I am in the gym, of course), that muscle group will be sore for 3 to 5 days.  Absurd.  I want to get back to an alternating schedule of working muscle groups, but I need the muscles to recover much more quickly to make that happen.

All of this seems unnecessarily complicated (in my opinion).  I wish things were much more cut-and-dry.  Conflicting information is everywhere and most of it is “backed by research that proves its validity.”  Ridiculous.

How do you figure out what you should and should not eat?  Are you following a specific dietary “plan?”  Do you calculate daily nutritional content (if so, how?)?

-Erica

 

Let’s Talk Food

The number one question I am asked when discussing my weight loss is, “What are you eating…or *not* eating?”

First of all, let me say that often people are astounded to find out I am losing weight “the hard way” (IE. no magic pills or trendy/fad diets…and no surgical intervention).  I have actually had people say something to this effect, “Really?  *That* works?!”  They have genuine shock and surprise in their voices.  How interesting.

In a society that is dominated by the quicker/faster/better option, people often overlook the best/healthiest route.  I mean, who wants to actually *work* toward something when you get snipped and tucked…one “quick and easy” procedure cures all your physical woes.  Right?  Wrong.  I have never been an advocate for weight loss surgery…ever.  Even at my heaviest when my doctor offered me a referral to the “weight loss clinic” (IE fat-removing surgeon), I turned him down.  I was not willing to risk my life when there was a *much* safer alternative – exercise and healthy eating.

Anyway…stepping off my soap box…

I have been wanting to share some of my “staple” foods that have helped me in my journey.  Not all of these choices would be right for everyone, of course, based on your own dietary needs and tastes.  So, this is not intended to be any kind of sound nutritional advice, folks.  Just what I like and what works for me.  I have posted previously about my food choices, if you are interested.

My first new discovery was Bolthouse Farms.  They have many products, but I am in love with their yogurt-based ranch dressing.  I love veggies…raw and crunchy veggies…but dipping them in ranch makes them even better (in my opinion).  I always limit myself to no more than one serving (2 Tbsp) and that is quite often *way* more than enough anyway.  Bolthouse Farms makes many other dressings and vinaigrettes, so if ranch dressing does not toot your horn, they probably have something else that will.

I have also switched to stevia as a sweetener instead of traditional granulated sugar.  I rarely used sugar anyway, but when I do I am now grabbing stevia.  Personally, I can taste a small difference between the two (maybe that is just me), but the difference does not bother me.  Sweet is sweet, right?

My next “big” find was Kashi (thanks to the nutritionist).  I was browsing the aisles of whole/natural/organic foods in my grocery store when I stumbled upon: Kashi TLC Pumpkin Spice Flax Crunchy Granola Bars (what a mouth-full).  These things are *amazingly* delicious…really.  My daughters have been having them as their mid-morning snack for days now.  They come packaged in pairs, which is perfect for each of my daughters to have one bar (85 calories, 3 g fat, 0.5 saturated fat, and 3 g protein).  Those of you watching carb intake might be less excited about these bars, though.  They weigh in at 25g of carbs per pack (two bars), so that may not be ideal for everyone.

Cooking oils are abundant these days.  Previously, I always had vegetable oil in my pantry.  Then I switched to extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO).  Then canola oil.  Recently, my friend switched to coconut oil because of all the hype it was receiving.  That, of course, led me to purchase some and start using it.  When I spent some time earlier this month with the nutritionist, I asked about all the different oils.  Ultimately, she recommended using canola oil for high-temperature cooking and EVOO for low-temperature cooking and dressings.  Although there are benefits to using coconut oil, the high (and I mean *very* high) saturated fat content make it a bad contender for regular use.  What kind of oil(s) do you use for cooking/baking?

I have mentioned previously that I have given up all white/bleached/enriched flour products (IE white bread and regular pastas).  An interesting bit of information I learned from the nutritionist, though, was that I had been eating them this whole time – unknowingly.  I *assumed* that if a product simply said “wheat flour” it meant the flour was not bleached/enriched.  However, that apparently is not necessarily the case.  The same goes for durum flour and semolina.  If the ingredient label does not include the word *whole* in front of those terms, chances are the flour *was* bleached/enriched and the manufacturer is just not putting that explicitly on the label.  This, in my opinion, is one more step to intentionally deceive consumers.  Letting us believe we are eating better food when, in fact, we are not.  I was not happy to find this out, of course.  So, I will be even more careful when selecting products that contain flour (in any form) to ensure I am not eating those bleached/enriched flours.

Some of my other blogger friends have recently discussed eating healthy and making better choices about consumption.  To see what they have to say visit with Andie and Colline.

Do you read the nutrition labels and ingredient lists when grocery shopping?  If so, what criteria must a food meet in order to land a spot in your cart?

Have you ever tried a fad diet in hopes of losing a great deal of weight quickly?  If so, which one(s) have you tried, and what was your experience with it?

-Erica

Food…and Hunger

This hungry (probably starving, actually) little fella pretty much describes how I have been feeling lately.  The problem is, I cannot figure out why in the world I am feeling so hungry!

As my weight continues to decrease, my alloted calories also decrease…so why is my appetite increasing?  I am more hungry now than when I first started eating better (which meant eating less, of course).

The hunger is making me nervous.  I find that if I try to ignore it (meaning keeping myself occupied with something else) it just gets worse.  My stomach starts growling – out loud, mind you – to the point where other people in the room can hear it, easily.  This is not “emotional” hunger either…I have learned to tell the difference.  This hunger is coming on at random times throughout the day/night.  My emotional hunger usually popped up only when I was bored, lonely, upset, angry, etc.  Also, my emotional hunger did not cause my stomach to roar out loud (of course, because my body was not genuinely hungry).

So, what in the world do I do now?  I am afraid if I start eating more the weight will stop coming off.  On the other hand, though, I cannot allow myself to stay this hungry all the time, right?  Allowing myself to remain hungry (if my body genuinely needs more food) will also be counter-productive to weight loss.  Frustrating.  Really.

For those of you out there who may have experienced this before…or just generally know what you are talking about…what do I do now?  Do I increase the food intake?  If so, what should I increase?  Only fruits and veggies, protein…all of it?  Help, please.

-Erica