When it comes to healthy living, whether you are trying to lose weight, gain weight or maintain your current weight, there is no magic pill, diet or exercise gadget. The obesity rate, due to poor nutrition, in America is shameful. Childhood obesity is on the rise as well. Poor nutrition also accounts for mal-nutrition and underweight Americans. The solution to most weight management problems lies within the foundation of eating in moderation – and eating foods in their most natural state. Nutritional education can set the path to over all good health.
Even with preparing meals, always remember the KISS method: keep it short and simple. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has modified the Food Pyramid to include a more balanced approach to complete nutrition called MyPlate. The concept is quite easy: divide your plate into quarters and fill each section with a basic food group; vegetables, fruits, grains and protein. Include a glass of dairy, or drink water with your meals, and avoid sugary drinks. By reducing red meat, starches, carbohydrates and fats, the new approach to healthy eating makes it easy for everyone. Fatty oils are necessary though in limited quantities. Eat a handful of nuts or use extra virgin olive oil in recipes.
Know your weaknesses: Don’t deprive yourself of snacks or foods you enjoy. If you completely rid your life of sweets or french fries then you are more likely to blow your efforts and binge. Once you adjust your eating style to a healthier intake, and you are consistently sticking to your plan, grant yourself a “free” meal day once a week. Do not fear going overboard though. When your body is accustomed to health food, usually only a bite or two of greasy foods or sweets will satisfy the junk food craving and your body won’t want to over-eat. Most of the time the need for over-eating comes from a physiological condition; comfort food. You can learn to substitute bad comfort food for good food. Establishing good habits is the resounding answer over and over again.
Shopping: One of the best habits a person can adopt is to avoid shopping on an empty stomach. This includes any kind of shopping especially at the mall. One smell of the food court might sabotage your day. If you grocery shop on an empty stomach, you are more likely to fill your cart with everything you see. Make a grocery list to steer clear of unnecessary purchases. Another way to beat the urge for junk is to eat before you leave the house. Also, take a health snack, like a piece of fruit, and a bottle of water if your errand day will last beyond your next meal. Prevention is a tool you can use to stay on the right track. Prevent spoiling your diet by planning ahead.
An inspiration in shopping: We are attracted to pleasant visuals and aromas. This fact is particularly useful when it comes to eating. Take that a step further and you will realize shopping for food has the same connection. Most grocery stores spend a lot of time in appealing to the consumer in the displays and freshness of their products. They aim to please not only the visual senses but also to the sense of smell. Smelling fresh baked goods in the bakery or a sniff of rotisserie chicken, in the deli, is sure to prompt purchases. The trick is to shop someplace that will encourage healthy eating. Organic stores and food co-ops are wonderful places to browse for grains, nuts, fresh meat and seafood and vegetables. One of the best shopping experiences is a trip to Whole Foods Market. Whole Foods is nationwide, with its corporate office in Austin, Texas, but there are two locations near by; Sacramento and Roseville. Whole Foods specializes in organic, natural foods. Simply walking in the door will immediately train your brain in health. The bounty of fresh, red strawberries and other fruits, along with the colors of ripe vegetables is sure to stimulate you. You will be motivated to eat well when you shop in an environment geared towards healthy living.
Cook for the week: Planning ahead with your meal preparation will also help in staying on the right track. When food is already cooked then it is fast food. For example, set aside one day a week to cook for the week: bake 5 yams, hard boil 6 eggs, clean and cut your favorite raw vegetables, steam 3 cups of brown rice and broil 4 chicken breasts. By thinking ahead, you instantly have several meal options.
Spread your meals out: Your metabolism works best when you eat in a routine of four to six small meals per day that are roughly 300 calories each. Rather than consuming all of your calories twice a day, space your meals out about every 2 hours to 2 and a half hours. A regular intake of meals keeps your glucose (blood sugar) levels normal. An over occurrence of blood sugar spikes can cause Type 2 Diabetes while drops in blood sugar can cause a myriad of problems ranging from dizziness, ravenous hunger, shakiness, and the sweats.
There is no magic pill: Fat burners are not magical but they can jump start a weight loss program. Millions of people use fat burners, like Jillian Michaels’ products, and achieve drastic results (in some cases). What happens AFTER the initial success is when the euphoria falls apart. Fat burners are only effective during the time they are taken and are not meant for life-long use. The maintenance of a newly reformed body is pivotal. Anyone who enters into a regimented quest to lose weight, with diet and exercise, needs to realize the results are not permanent unless the lifestyle has changed. Fad diets or extreme eating are the worst enemies. The Cayenne Pepper and Maple Syrup Diet is a diet used by celebrities to lose a few pounds and tightened up before a special appearance or photo shoot. The results are fantastic but temporary. Beyoncé Knowles used this diet to prepare for her role in Cadillac Records. The actress lost a purported 20 pounds in two weeks; however, the radical make-over was temporary. It is not healthy to continue such an extreme diet nor is it practical. A person is setting themselves up for failure by subscribing to these types of systems as a permanent solution.
Raw food and food in its most natural state is the best: Sauce, gravy, and dressing, oh my! Vegetables, chicken, meat and rice is quite tasty without smothering them with toppings. Most Americans fall to the evils of condiments – and fatty cooking styles – forgetting how good plain food can taste. There are tricks to keeping the flavor without the added calories, sugars, fats and carbohydrates. Instead of salad dressing, squeeze fresh lemon over your salad or steamed broccoli and other vegetables. Replace butter and mayonnaise with yogurt in recipes. Another good habit is to avoid packaged, canned or processed foods. If you can’t pronounce the ingredient then it probably isn’t good for you.
Don’t forget to exercise: Good nutrition is only part of a total, healthy lifestyle. Exercise your heart for good cardiovascular strength, include strength training to build muscle and bone density and stretch for greater ease of movement and to decrease the chance of injury. Moderate, long term regularity is better than being a weekend warrior who pushes too far, too fast. Think of long-standing fitness and not of fitness in the moment.
Dispelling the myths and reinforcing the basics is a great start in changing your eating habits. Don’t think so hard! There is no need to weight your portions or count calories needlessly. As long as you are eating in moderation, and skipping the obvious bad choices, then your eating habits should be exactly right. The hardest part to good nutrition is establishing the habits, continuing the habits, and making the effort to continue your success. The magic is not in a pill but in you. Have faith in yourself to change. The results will be not only lifelong but also more appreciated.
Whole Foods Market – Roseville
1001 Galleria Blvd.
Roseville, CA 95678
8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Seven days a week
Whole Foods Market – Sacramento
4315 Arden Way
Sacramento, CA 95864
8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Seven days a week