In learning about nutrition one starts to become more and more aware of what we put in our mouths. It can be a scary experience when you realise and understand how calories and the different types can affect us in either a negative or positive way. Literally changes our lives … but it can also be an exciting journey when you learn to use the knowledge to better your life. Doesn’t seem that way at first. The cravings can get the better of us, and it’s truly more of a mental journey than it is a physical one.
I think for most of us when starting out, it feels more at some point a punishment and only a temporary one (we usually don’t start out thinking that we’ll have to ‘diet’ for the rest of our lives). Not knowing about correct dieting is common and for most the word comes with a sense of fear. You have to agree that the word ‘diet’ in itself has a negative connotation to it, the idea of having to ‘give something up’, to ‘sacrifice’ or ‘quit’ the things you love. It’s even harder to accept that the products you drink and eat, that you thought were good and healthy for you, actually aren’t. That’s a seriously bitter pill to swallow and it takes time to change the mindset. We grow attached to those products … a little too much.
I could swear that there is some sort of conspiracy theory regarding ‘food’. I use apostrophes over the word food because it seems to be changing over time, including people’s perceptions of what food is, and time is a conspiracy’s best friend. You have to admit, some of us can get quite defensive when we’re told that we are making a mistake with the food and drink choices we make. Even for those of us who have tried to steer ourselves into a healthier lifestyle and believe the choices we are making are the best. I think anyone reading this knows exactly what I’m talking about. The mere idea of consuming those addictive foods or drinks are enough to start you craving. The difficulty of saying “no” can sometimes be compared to that of a drug addiction.
The first thing that comes to mind is how gooooood it tastes, how gooooood it feels while you eat or drink it. Our minds take a journey of their own with a sense of need. I think that alone should start ringing warning bells in our heads, but instead it’s normal to crave. My idea of nutrition has completely changed so now when I think how food can have such control over our emotions I realise that it isn’t supposed to be normal. Not that your meals should be an unpleasant experience, but for a person to have a certain type of food or beverage on their mind often, and be excited for the moment of it’s consumption … I cannot agree with that mind set. Food in essence is a fuel. Just like the fuel you put in your car for you to be mobile in it, so does your body need to be fuelled. Sadly some feel the fuel they put into their vehicle is more important than the one they consume themselves. Or perhaps they do not feel the food they fuel themselves with is causing the majority of the health issues they are living with.
Not a very comforting word, I know. It’s a difficult journey and one needs to be patient and realistic when trying to make big changes in ones ‘diet’. The trick is to slowly change your habits and be accountable for everything that you put in your mouth. How many of you feel like you couldn’t live without your comfort food? Then how would you survive if they didn’t exist? How has anyone survived previously to those products being manufactured? You only ‘need’ these things because they exist. We mould our eating habits and it’s time for you to see food in a whole new light.
Again, it’s more of a mental battle (and for some, a raging war), so you will experience certain withdrawals especially from habit. If you’re used to always having a bowl of popcorn or that packet of chips when you watch a movie at home or anywhere else then try to change your routine. I began by not purchasing the products so I wouldn’t have them at home. Read my post on what kind of items you should fill your pantry with called Grocery Shopping List. Eating smaller meals throughout the day helps with curbing those cravings. It’s okay to eat every 2 to 3 hours, keeping them small portions will help reach your goals. The true key here is portion sizes. Please read the post on How to Balance Macro-nutrients for correct portion sizes. When you fuel your body with the correct portion sizes and proportions of Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats, the withdrawals diminish somewhat, as it will be digesting the type of nutrition it is actually asking for. Eating incorrectly can often leave you feeling wanting more.
Drinks are a big player in calories, so mind what you drink. I always keep a bottle of water with me, and it always saves me from buying something I shouldn’t. If you drank 2 cans of Coca Cola you’ve already used up more than half of one of your daily meal allowances, so you’re literally settling for bad fuel to add to your ‘tank’. Instead you could have eaten a healthy portion of good food. Food that your body is actually needing to repair cells and heal ailments. Not the mentally brainwashed idea that you HAVE to drink that coke. Think about that every time you’re about to drink or eat something.
Being in a calorie deficit will also leave you feeling a little hungry at times so eating regularly will keep you going for longer. Take the time to chew your food properly. We are usually so busy with something we tend to eat in a hurry. Chewing your food sufficiently is more important than you think. It is a very important step in your digestive system which allows for proper absorption of nutrients with the secretion of enzymes by glands located under the tongue. Taking longer to eat your meals allows for your digestive system to trick your body into thinking you are getting full. Eating fast and not chewing each bite sufficiently will leave you feeling heavy, but still somehow hungry. It takes some time to get used to and will be strange at first. Making a conscious effort to start benefiting from chewing will be a good start.
Remember this, one bad meal does not make you fat. Neither does one good meal make you lean, so if you fall off track then get back on, and don’t write the whole day off because of one bad meal. The idea is to be sensible about it. Starving yourself is just stupid, don’t do it … don’t skip meals! If you do you’ll easily snack on things you shouldn’t. Rather eat well, save your cheats for planned occasions, or for the day you choose to break your routine to have that ‘delicacy’ of your choice. YES, I’m telling you it’s okay to indulge now and then, but keep in mind what I said about being sensible about it. I would of course advise to incorporate some form of exercise into your lifestyle. I’m a big fan.
I promise that over time it gets easier. Your body isn’t going through withdrawals from the change in diet and soon you’ll also find that the occasional cheat is more than sufficient, and sometimes even not as enjoyable as you remember it to be.
Alcohol, wow, now that is a story for another post. I will say this though, if you exercise during the week and then you go party and drink it up on the weekends … seriously, one of the dumbest things to do to yourself. Here’s a small analogy … why would you take the time to wash your car and then purposefully dump your trash all over it, then wash it again, and trash it, and wash it, and trash it. Good Lord that is thick. No amount of exercise is going to fix that damage. Stop wasting your time, pick one or the other, it’s your choice. If you’re exercising then you clearly have some sort of goal … the alcohol … it’s ripping you a new one buddy.
- Firstly, make an effort to look at food as more than just something tasty to eat.
- Eat more regularly, every 2 to 3 hours is acceptable providing each portion size is correct and includes all macro-nutrients.
- Be aware of what you are putting in your mouth and if it works for your goals.
- Gradually stop purchasing products that cause you to snack.
- Go for real food ingredients.
- Educate yourself about the different food types and gradually build yourself a pool of knowledge.
- Chew your food sufficiently, and don’t rush through your meals.
- Don’t skip meals.
- Watch those drinks! Stick to plain water.
- Keep water with you, go purchase a hardy water bottle if you have to. Never leave home without it.
- Change your habits so you don’t keep falling into the same traps.
- Remember most of all that this is mentally challenging. Beat it … You’re stronger.
- And lastly, don’t live for food. Feed to live, mmkay?