Are you permanently on a diet? Do you spend most of the day thinking about what to eat? Do you obsess about every meal for fear of gaining weight? Are you one of those people that reads all the latest information on the new ‘diet’ that promises to shed excessive amounts of weight?
Not really knowing what to eat to maintain a healthy weight causes people endless problems, it forces fad diets, undereating, overeating, calorie counting and this can all lead to illness’ both physically and mentally. In this article I will explain how to maintain a normal healthy weight without ever having to diet and stress about food again AND eat treat foods.
First, let's talk about diets
The word diet can be very much mis-used. A diet is usually a restrictive plan in order to lose weight. Being on a permanent diet and yoyo dieting is damaging to the body. The body needs nourishment to fight off illness and disease and to stay healthy. Nourishment comes from eating a wide source of macro and micro-nutrients consistently and those are, proteins, fats and carbs with vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables primarily. It isn’t possible to consume enough nutrient dense foods by dieting.
The truth about diets is that they are ‘faddy’, which basically means they last for a short term and are not sustainable and here is why they aren’t sustainable; when the body goes into extreme hunger mode or goes through an extreme ‘diet plan’, the body feels it, it reacts by storing fat to help it ‘survive’ as it thinks it might not get food, so basically stores any food it does have, as fat. The body might shed some initial weight on this new diet, but the weight will go back on when it returns to its previous way of eating. This yoyo dieting is not healthy for the body and it also creates more weight gain in the long run.
It's all about balance
Like everything in life, there has to be balance and diets are not balanced. A balance is eating well with nutrient dense foods whilst still having the occasional treat or naughty food. By depriving the treat food completely, forces the body and mind under pressure to avoid; the avoidance causes stress and anxiety which normally leads to binge eating and returning to an even worse eating regime than previously….more dieting.
Regular, sensible eating patterns are ones that don’t leave you hungry OR craving for ‘naughty foods’ OR looking for unhealthy snacks OR feeling guilty OR searching for the next fad diet.
In order to understand further the following needs to be explained.
Many of the foods consumed today are ‘processed’, typically known as fast food. Fast food is exactly that, it is ‘fast’. It is as quick to buy as it is to digest, meaning you feel hungrier quicker, then you eat more of it, you gain more weight. Why? Because fast food is not nutrient dense, normally it is highly sugared which makes you crave more of it, highly salted to last longer, bad fats such as trans fats and chemically laden to taste better.
Processed foods contain many ingredients per one meal. Here lies the problem…
In a nutshell, the liver and digestive tract is put under extreme pressure when it tries to process all of these ingredients from the meal. The more pressure and stress from the processed food the organs face the more the body puts on fat, why? Because it cannot cope and creates inflammation, did you know that the inflammation caused actually makes us fatter?
The answer to this is to eat as many WHOLE foods as possible. Whole foods means: any food that is in its original form, like a carrot, potato, chickpea, pea, chicken, oats, eggs, cucumber, nuts, beef, banana, onion, olive oil. Other foods like cheese, butter, oat biscuits are also fine because they have only a few ingredients in them per item and they have vital nutrients..
Putting any whole foods (or nearly a whole food) together at ALL of your meals will greatly affect your body’s reaction to how it process’ and digests the food, in turn how much body fat it stores (less) and how less hungry and more satiated (full) you will feel.
If that sounds like a complicated challenge and you are asking yourself how do I do that, keep reading and I will explain to you just how to eat like this, without gaining weight, to stay healthy and more importantly to be mentally in control without it controlling you. It is as simple as going back to basics, cook and eat like your Grandparents used to eat.
- An example;
- Breakfast - Porridge Oats with blueberries, seed and nut mix and a drizzle of maple syrup (ALL foods that are in their original form and yes I said Maple Syrup)
- Lunch – Homemade Vegetable Soup with Wholemeal Pitta Bread and a small piece of cheese.
- Snack – Handful of almonds and an apple or a couple of squares of 90% dark chocolate
- Dinner – Grilled Salmon with a small jacket potato with skin on, small knob of butter, broccoli and asparagus
Benefits of Whole Foods
When looking at this food plan you might be thinking, wow that is a lot of food and lots of carbs and I am told to cut down on carbs as they are fattening, confusing right? The type of carb you consume is very important. Fibrous carbs are the key to this. Fibre at meal times helps you eliminate waste and FAT. Many of the problems in todays ‘diet’ are because they lack fibre usually made up of white processed carbs. Fibre keeps us slimmer, feeling lighter, less bloated. All meals should have fibre and that can come from any vegetable and or wholegrains such as oats, wholemeal bread, wholemeal rice, wholemeal pitta, chickpeas, lentils, (legumes) etc, skins on potato, these are good carbs not processed carbs.
In addition, all meals should contain some sort of protein and fat. Fats (good fats are essential to transport minerals to parts of the body) to keep skin, hair, nails and tissues healthy, like olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, walnut oil etc. Protein like fish, chicken, chickpeas for example, slow down the digestion process which means you will feel fuller for longer hence you won’t be craving other foods until your next meal which is why protein is so important at every meal.
An abundance of fruit and vegetables cooked or uncooked at every meal. The vitamins, minerals and antioxidants we gain from these food types are essential as they protect us from illness, serious diseases and are what keep us looking and feeling great.
Once the body gets used to eating ‘properly’ it stops craving sugar laden and processed foods, in fact once the body starts to feel the benefits of real food, the avoidance of these processed foods happens naturally.
Weight gain just doesn’t happen because the body gets better at processing proper ‘whole food’, it almost goes into a phase of calmness as it is able to digest the food without loads of additives, preservatives, sugar, salt and fat that was overloading the organs. Regular whole foods at mealtimes ensures snacking on junk foods is reduced and the body has time between meals to burn off what it has taken in.
A healthy diet
A healthy regular eating pattern means eating the odd ‘naughty’ takeaway or a bar of chocolate doesn’t matter, they become ‘treats’ and that is a good and positive thing. If your body is in balance 80% of the time by eating wholefoods, it doesn’t mind being off balance 20% of the time and more importantly allowing you to really enjoy your food. Life is for living and complete avoidance isn’t balance and doesn’t make for a happy individual.
If you are seriously looking to lose weight but wish to remain healthy, the key is to slightly cut down the portion size at each meal, that doesn’t mean restrictive eating or cutting out essential food groups or skipping meal times, just simply put a little less of a full portion on the plate. You will be amazed at how cutting the portion size a little each day can gradually shed the pounds over time.
It is totally possible to remain slim and healthy whilst eating proper full whole meals that feed the body, mind and spirit.