In our last column we mentioned the first fundamental rule of weight
loss—a healthy diet is a must! And with that, the first two guidelines
to observe in making your diet healthy:
#1. Eat "whole" foods predominately. That is, food that is close to its natural state—not heavily processed, refined, hydrogenated, etc. Healthy meats and dairy, plenty of vegetables, fruit and whole grains is the order.
#2. Eat "balanced" meals that leave you feeling satiated, energized, and feeling good. Some manipulation of foods, and portions of protein, fat, and carbohydrates may be necessary to get things just right.
Today, let's look at the critical factor you have to get right in a weight loss diet:
#3. Watch your portion sizes and calories! Fortunately, switching to more wholesome, natural food helps here immediately. Because of natural foods’ sheer bulk, water weight, and fiber they promote satiety before overeating. And because of their lack of artificial, or overdone sweetness they don’t promote overeating like most calorie dense junk foods. Nevertheless, one can get heavy, eating even natural foods, so you want to learn the caloric value of different types of foods so you don’t eat too much!
Warning: One of the most difficult behaviors to change is cutting down on portion size. In fact, people who relapse report that they did not monitor portion sizes. Portion sizes have grown over the years and we have grown with them. Soft drinks were once 6 ounces, but now are served in 64-ounce containers! (10 times the calorie content!) Candy bars, French fry servings, burger sizes, etc. have all grown to give you “more for your money.” Watch out!—especially with all convenience food, and when eating out.
Here are some tips:
A. Eat at home, or bring food from home most of the time. This will save you money, as well as your health.
B. Learn to “eyeball your food” by reading labels. This becomes pretty easy with
practice. Just get in the habit of reading the label of everything boxed and canned that
you eat—noting the portion size and calorie amount, compared to what you eat. Very
soon you develop a good sense for what many different types of foods calorie amounts
are, just by “eyeballing” the portion size.
C. Use the palm of your hand as a measuring device. For foods that don’t come packaged use the palm of your hand. Many people in the world still eat with their hands, and it is an amazingly accurate way to measure food intake. A portion of meat, cottage cheese, or other protein source may be the size of your palm. Ditto for a starchy carbohydrate source. Maybe 2 or 3 palm sizes are appropriate in a meal for vegetables, and 1/2 a palm for fat sources like nuts, etc.
D. Another method is to divide up the space on your plate. For example, 1/4 of the plate for meat, 1/4 for carbohydrate foods, and 1/2 for fruits and vegetables, etc. If weight loss is the goal, take what is appropriate for the meal, and don't have seconds. If you are at home, don't even put extra food on the table. Eat slowly, enjoy it, and when the plate is finished, you are done.
The bottom line in all this is that it is important to have some method of measuring what you eat beyond just how you feel, when you are trying to manage your weight. Clifton Azok, who successfully lost over 100lbs. and keeps it off, put it this way:
"A cause of overeating is a lack of dietary discipline. Part of this lack of discipline is a result of not measuring food. When driving a car, one looks at the speedometer in connection with the gas pedal. Without this measuring device it is very easy to speed out of control. Without a measuring system it is very easy and rather common to let eating get out of control. With these measuring methods all excuses are just that, Excuses!"
If you would like to learn more about what really works for weight loss, there will be a free orientation class for the next “Choose to Lose” coaching program on Monday, December 12th from 6-7pm. Get your weight loss questions answered. We’d love to see you there!
Submitted by: Thomas Morrison, Fitness Coordinator, Bradley Wellness Center