Does maintaining a healthy weight seem difficult and elusive to you? Hey, I get it. Nine years ago, after struggling with weight and yo-yo dieting since I was a preteen, I finally lost about 40 pounds and kept it off.🎉 (Well, except for having another baby and having to lose again after that, which I did!) 😄
And you know what I discovered? It really doesn’t have to be so difficult to maintain a healthy weight.
With that discovery, honestly, I was pretty angry at the diet industry. When I had looked for help from “trusted” sources, all I got was unscientific advice that led to me messing up my metabolism and doing a lot of damage to my body. Yup, that was the time when they were preaching don’t eat avocados because they are SO fattening, but do eat every low fat chemical laden dessert you can find. 🙄
Why didn’t anyone tell me how easy it could be?!? That’s also why I chose to get certified as a Health Coach; I didn’t want anyone else going through the same pain and frustration I had. Not that I’m bitter or anything.😆
So are you ready to make friends with food? To feel comfortable in your own skin again? Read on for 6 easy food rules you can start implementing today.
#1 Just Eat Real Food
I know you wanted something more interesting, but bear with me because this is the secret sauce. 😉 This un-glamorous trick helped my husband and I lose close to 100 pounds combined. You see, much of what people in America eat isn’t real food, but food-like-products. Our bodies just weren’t meant to run on this garbage!
Would you expect your car to run on Coca Cola? Um… no! 🏎 😆 Well, you can’t expect your body to function properly if you don’t give it the correct fuel. If you don’t believe me, check out this study which showed that eating a diet high in processed foods causes the body to burn less calories. 😳
There are lots of ways that food additives can cause damage, and I won’t go into all of them today. But for now, know that your metabolism will burn much better if you give it the correct fuel.
As Jamie Oliver says, “Real food doesn’t have ingredients, real food IS ingredients!” Just because a box says “gluten free” or “whole grain” doesn’t make it good for you. Practice shopping the outer edge of the grocery store and not venturing down the aisles and into the frozen section where all the pre-made concoctions live.
Yes, there are some healthy options for convenience, and I’ll talk about those in another post soon. But stick to whole foods as much as possible and avoid anything with a long list of mysterious ingredients like the plague. Your whole body (and metabolism) will thank you.
#2 Eat the Rainbow
I know after reading #1, some of you are in freak out mode, wondering what exactly you are going to eat, right? 😉 Well, no worries, because the list of wonderful things you can eat is pretty much endless. So focus on what you can have, and with clean eating that’s a rainbow of delicious food!
Make a game out of getting all the colors on your plate. You might try beautiful smoothie bowls with tropical fruits or berries (maybe even some hidden spinach?) for breakfast.
For lunch, how about a bowl with greens, red quinoa, black beans, shredded purple cabbage and jicama, chopped colorful peppers, and some of that naughty avocado? 🥑😋 (It’s super easy to make a dressing with just lemon, fresh garlic, and olive oil.)
Dinner? Just look for salads on Pinterest and you’ll see that it doesn’t mean iceberg lettuce with a few tomatoes.🐇 (Hint, check out my Salad Love board on Pinterest and you’ll see what I mean.) 😊
In general, people’s bodies respond really well to fruits and vegetables. Make that the focus of your meal planning and throw in some high quality protein to go with it. Yes, eating fresh food requires a little planning and prep, but your efforts will pay off. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how your energy goes up and your weight goes down. 😁
#3 Ditch the Frankenfoods and GMO’s
Many years ago, I walked into a Weight Watchers meeting thinking it would be the answer to my problems. I watched the leader showcasing her favorite brand of low fat individually wrapped cheese that was closer to being plastic than food. 🤔 And I never went back! I was young and didn’t know much about nutrition, but my intuition told me that eating fake foods wasn’t the way to get healthy.
Yes, you may initially lose weight (via calorie restriction) when you eat “diet foods”. But what is the long term consequence for your health? Like we talked about in #1, there are a lot of things sold as food that hardly qualify as edible! For example, in the U.S., we have many food additives that are banned in other countries.
Thanks to industrialized food, there’s Azodicarbonaminde in breads (it’s also in yoga mats and shoe soles!) We’ve got BHA, categorized as a possible human carcinogen, and BHT which has been linked to lung and liver tumors. Trans fats that contribute to heart disease… Oh, and just for fun, natural flavors made from delicious things like beaver anal glands. 🤢 #truestory Natural flavors can also contain synthetic chemicals like the solvent propylene glycol.
SO, if you’d like to learn more about what to watch out for on food labels, check out EWG’s Dirty Dozen Guide to food additives. Better yet, stay away from anything with long labels!
Keep in mind too, that toxins accumulate in fat cells. So if you are exposing yourself to lots of toxins, in your food or elsewhere, your body is likely to collect fat to protect your brain and other organs from the overload. 😨
What about GMO’s?
So what even is a GMO? The Non-GMO Project website gives this definition:
“Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering. This creates combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and virus genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods. Most GMOs have been engineered to withstand the direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide.” 🤔
One of the problems with genetically modified foods is the levels of pesticides that come with them. As you saw in the quote, some even produce insecticides within the plant! Nine out of 10 of the most common pesticides are endocrine disrupting, which is linked to weight gain.
Eating pesticides/insecticides can also damage your gut bacteria, leading to a cascade of issues within the body. We could go on and on about the potential problems with GMO’s, but it comes down to this:
Your diet should not be a mad science experiment.
Look for the Non-GMO verified label on any convenience foods, particularly those that contain corn, canola, or soy. Also, to avoid those pesticides, buy organic when possible. EWG also has a list of the “Clean 15” foods that are safe to buy conventionally grown, and the “Dirty Dozen” that you should always buy organic. You can get that for free here.
#4 Keep Sugar to a Minimum
Back in the day, when it was all about low-fat, no one ever mentioned sugar. There was a time when I was pretty much starving myself skinny, but I would eat an entire box of Snackwells chocolate chip cookies because they fit into the old Weight Watchers Fat & Fiber plan. 🤦♀️ #brilliant
Thankfully I survived my own stupidity, 😅 and eventually learned that sugar, not fat, is the thing that is most likely to make us fat. Basically, sugar is all around bad news.
Sugar impacts brain function, can cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and increases heart disease risk. It feeds yeast and bad bacteria that contribute to leaky gut. And… sugar also makes you age faster through the glycation process! 😱
If you’re like me, you have experienced how addictive sugar is. I’m really better off not having any, because once I get started there is no amount that satisfies me. If you’ve been on that blood sugar roller coaster, you know how hard it is to get off!
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 100 calories of added sugar for women and 150 for men. If you’re struggling with weight, you may find it best to cut it all together and get your sweet fix from low sugar fruits like berries.
Is this the easiest tip? No. Worth it? YES.
#5 Listen to Your Body
What do I mean by that? Well, a lot of us have tuned out when it comes to our bodies’ signals. 🤔 For instance, we eat because it is lunch or dinner time, even though we aren’t hungry yet. Or because we’re at the movies and our habit is to get popcorn, or we’re out with friends and it would be rude not to get a drink and appetizer. And then, we feel bad about wasting food, so we eat until we feel a little ugh.
Sound familiar? In order to maintain a healthy weight, we have to learn to listen to our bodies again. How? Work on learning to honor the signals of hunger and fullness. Eating habits are often deeply ingrained and some of the hardest to break, but being mindful of it is the first step.
If you tend to eat emotionally or out of habit, you might benefit from making a “What Do I Really Need” list. This simple exercise will help you think of what other nourishing activities you can do besides snack. If you know you aren’t really hungry, but are triggered to need “something”, just look at your list. I made a What Do I Really Need worksheet for you to print out, you can grab it here:
#6 Make Your Own Rules
It’s funny how people get almost militant about the diets they love and insist that everyone needs to be doing what they are. The reality is, whether it’s Vegan, Paleo, Keto, or something else, there is no one perfect diet for all human beings. What nourishes you could be poison to me, and vice versa.
That’s why we have to be our own expert and make our own rules. The good news is you already are the expert on your body!
Sure, you can get lab tests to see what allergies and sensitivities you have, but also pay attention to those inner signals. If you’ve found a method of eating that you really love but you’re exhausted, anxious, and bloated, it may not be the best choice for you after all.
There is always going to be a place for tweaking and refining what works for you, especially as you go through different phases of life. Be flexible and curious as you discover YOUR perfect diet!
I hope you found my 6 Rules helpful! They are almost too easy, but don’t write them off because of that. Remember, it doesn’t have to be that hard. 😉
If you need more help with changing your eating habits, I do offer personal coaching. You can learn more about that here.
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