In light of the controversial obesity commercial recently in the news, I decided to make a post about staying healthy. I’ve been at a pretty good weight for most of my life, and I’d like to share my habits and advice with those who are curious or want to make a change in theirs. This post may be the first of several, or it may be the only one, but here’s stuff off the top of my head:
- Never go on a “diet”. Even having to say you’re on a “diet” means you’re not planning on keeping it up! A temporary way of changing your eating habits will not change your health for the rest of your life. Work slowly to change a bad habit so you can adjust and get used to doing it a better way before going for more changes. Go for the marathon, not the sprint!
- Hide treat foods. No, it’s not so you can’t find them, it’s so that you don’t have to see them every time you move around. Self control is a limited resource; do not waste yours by putting your treat foods in full view every time you go to the kitchen. Simply putting them behind another food helps. The goal is not to get you to never eat that food, but to have to think of it specifically before you pick it up in a kind of “Oh my god I forgot we have these, this is the best day ever!” feeling. So many people eat bad foods just because they’re there. Use out of sight, out of mind to your advantage.
- Find a food you can munch on constantly without affecting your health. There will inevitably be times when you’re tired, you don’t want to make anything, or you just want to grab something quickly. My go-to’s are Cheerios and Kix; you can eat decent quantities of these without worrying. It doesn’t have to be the tastiest thing ever, but something that satisfies the feeling of I-Want-Something-Now.
- If you want to start gradually, one of the first things to eliminate is soda. This includes fruit juice! Fruits are great, but don’t juice them; it gets rid of a lot of their health benefits!
- Remember, you do not have to completely cut out your favorite foods. You simply need to control them so you are not having them regularly.
- Don’t eat out more than a few times a week, if even that. A lot of restaurants are going for taste and for you to become addicted to their food so you’ll come back; most do not care about your health. Their food’s ingredients reflect this.
- If your goal is specifically to lose weight, and not to get healthy overall, then sure, you can count calories to your heart’s content. My advice, however, is that even if this is the case, you really, really shouldn’t. Calories are such an eensy part of the overall picture. Foods that are amazing for you and high in protein (like nuts) will have many calories! Calories are not to be taken at face value.
- Instead, read what is in the food. Look at the serving size as a metric; for example, if the serving size is 29g, and 15g of that comes from sugar, that food is over 50% sugar! On the Nutrition Facts label, do you see that almost all of the food is saturated fat, or sugar? This is what you want to focus on instead of calories. Learn what a good ratio of these things are, and how to tell the difference between good fats and bad fats. For example, if something is high in fat, but most of the fat is unsaturated (e.g. olive oil), it can still be a good food.
- For a general rule of thumb, things that are solid at room temperature (e.g. Land o’ Lakes butter) are high in saturated fat, because saturated fat is what makes them solid to begin with. Foods that are high in fat but liquid at room temperature (e.g. oils) are unsaturated, and are better for you. Go for soft butter in a tub rather than hard sticks of butter. This is just chemistry.
- If you make a mistake or slip up, don’t beat yourself up about it. This often leads to guilt and binge eating. Just understand that it happened and keep trying.
- Exercise lightly at least 3x/week for at least 30 minutes. If you can’t do 30 minutes in one go, it’s fine! Do 15 in the morning and 15 in the evening. Everyone can find time to exercise; these 30 minutes make the other 23.5 hours of each day much more fluid, free of guilt, and enjoyable!
- After you’ve started to make some of these changes, cut out deep fried food as much as you can. Pan fried is okay, so long as it’s not a regular habit.
- Start looking at ingredients lists for everything you eat. These lists list ingredients in order of their percentage in weight of the food. If you see sugar listed as the first ingredient, look the other way. As a rule of thumb: the fewer ingredients, the better for you it is (and the fewer the nasty preservatives)!
- When you make some of these changes, you will very likely notice you stop craving the foods you’ve cut out. Once it gets to a point where the food is just a treat you like to have sometimes when eating out, you know you’re doing great!
Got any other tips to add? Sound off in the comments!