In my line of work I hear a lot of comments, advice and discussion about nutrition and how to eat properly to lose weight, gain weight, maintain, have six pack abs and so much more! This past week alone, I’ve been approached by a couple different folks to sell their supplements, shakes or quick weight loss products. I also overheard another instructor telling her clients to avoid fruit because it was too high in sugar – specifically bananas, apples and berries! (note- she’s also pushing supplements to make up for what you are missing by not eating fruit!) When it comes to weight loss and nutrition- I’m old fashion. I think it takes sweat and a healthy diet to get to a healthy weight and maintain it. I am innately skeptical of anything that promises great results without changing your diet or adding in exercise. I won’t name the products I was approached about – and I’ll admit I have not thoroughly researched them to know the reality. But I will stick to what I know works- calorie/portion control and exercise. I’ve heard that diet represents 60%, exercise 30% and genetics 10% – I don’t have the source for that – so even if it’s a bit off – you get the point – DIET MATTERS!
That being said I figured I’d go ahead and share with you my thoughts on diet and a few resources that I think are great! I like to keep it simple. I eat real food and I try not to use food as a reward. I came across a book about a year ago that is all about eating simple, real food. It’s called the Food Rules by Michael Pollan.
Here are a few of the food rules:
1. If a third grader can’t pronounce it – don’t eat it.
2. Eat foods that come from plants not made in plants
3. Don’t get your food at the same place you buy your gas
4. Don’t eat cereals that change the color of your milk
It’s common sense rules and an approach to eating that incorporates vegetables, fruits and lean proteins to get all the nutrients you need- not manufactured supplements. It’s a step back in time and eating like your grandparents probably did!
Another source I have found that is great if you need to lose a few pounds or to give you a better understanding of what you are eating is My Fitness Pal. It’s a free website and free app. This handy guide already has the calories, fat, protein and more for foods you’ll find at your favorite places. My Starbucks Grande skinny, no whip hot chocolate is already in there! You can program in your goals and the site will tell you how many calories you have left for the day and what those calories should be made of (ie. protein, carbs). I think this site is a great way to get an understanding of just how many calories some items have. At times it can be surprising that a salad may not be your best choice and low fat foods aren’t always low calorie.
These are both resources I use and I also read a lot about nutrition. While I don’t have a degree and don’t work as a nutritionist – I do have my own opinions based on what I have read/seen/experienced. So here are some of the guidelines I use for myself:
- Keep it colorful- I try to eat a variety of different color items so I get my nutrients this way
- Limit processed foods- it’s hard to completely eliminate processed items but I do attempt to eat more natural foods – from the perimeter of the grocery store not the middle aisles
- When in season – I shop the farmers market
- I cook- so I can control what goes into my food.
- I practice ‘Mindful Eating’- I try to be aware of what I am eating and how much. I’ve learned I can shovel it in in front of the TV without realizing how much I’ve consumed or when I’ve reached full.
- I don’t depriving myself of what I love but I keep it in moderation
- I don’t assuming “I’ll work it off tomorrow” – that equation just never quite works out!
That’s it- my food rules so to speak. Nothing fancy and no supplements or shakes. I encourage you to do your own research and not look for a quick fix. Find what works for you and realize that diet is an important part of being healthy and maintaining a healthy weight.