Disclaimer: I do not have a degree or any kind of training in medical and/or nutritional science, therefore, please always consult your medical care provider before starting any weight loss program or changing your diet habits. I’m simply stating what works for me, you may incorporate some tips or find your own way to eat healthy.
How do I know it’s working?
1) I’ve maintained approximately the same weight and clothes size for the past number of years, my cholesterol levels are normal, and the risks of developing diabetes or heart disease are very low.
2) This is my usual “food tester” (and no, he does not look like that anymore, he is 6’2″ and in college now), but, since he survived it all and apparently thrived too, it must have worked right.
I believe that physical activity is important, but healthy nutrition prevails over everything else, as you can certainly work out the calories from junk food, you can’t, however, sweat out the ill effects of not eating right. I follow a nutrient-dense and healthy fats lifestyle, not low calorie/low fat diet, therefore, if you’re looking for a quick weight loss, you’re not going to find it here, though concentration on fresh/unprocessed foods and healthy fats will certainly help keep your weight in check and maybe even lose a few pounds. Most of my food choices consist of natural proteins, grains, fruits and vegetables, though I do follow an 80/20 ratio with about 20% of what I consume being allowed for sweets, chips and such. And I don’t sweat this exact “science” every single day but rather balance it out across days or even weeks (depending on what’s going at each particular moment).
1) Portion control is still a must no matter what you’re eating. Notice a difference between a regular dinner plate and a matching salad plate. I only use dinner plates when guests come, or as a serving platter, all meals are otherwise served on salad plates (if you’re wondering whether it’s an adequate amount of food, see numbers 1) and especially 2) from the reasons I know it’s working mentioned above). I place whatever amount of food I want at the time, including all the veggies, salad though I often put on a separate small dish, and I rarely go for seconds. This way no food is “staring” in my face while I’m eating. The idea is to learn being satisfied with an adequate amount of food, not inhale unlimited amounts, even of low calorie foods, just because it’s available. If you’re wondering if this could work while eating with family, and if they would be satisfied, again, see 2) of the reasons I know it’s working. And if you or your family members are truly still hungry after eating their meal, they can always get up and serve more food for themselves.
2) I choose healthy fats over low/no fats. A lot of vitamins and nutrients are fat-soluble and need to be consumed with some source of fat to be properly digested and release all their beneficial potential. Plus healthy fats help regulate your digestion, make your skin, hair and nails glow, a proven age-defying method. Examples of healthy fats include: oils – extra virgin olive oil, grapeseed, hemp oil, walnut, coconut, all kind of nuts, avocados, omega 3s and 6s as in salmon or hemp, almond or coconut milk instead of cow’s milk and non-dairy cultured products such as yogurt and kefir. I do consider grass-fed organic butter as an adequate source of good fat so an occasional consumption, especially in baking, is good in my view.
3) Most of the daily liquid intake should come from plain water, at least 6 cups a day. Herbal tea may be substituted for 1-2 cups but not more. I don’t drink any kind of soda or flavored drinks because it’s mostly sugar and chemicals (also see 4) below), on some rare occasion I may order Ginger Ale when eating out, but most likely I’ll ask for club soda and lemon. I do drink a cup of strong coffee in the morning and also have tea daily (this is my nightly indulgent ritual, tea and sweets 🙂 Again, on some rare occasion, I may have some GuS Soda ,all natural, grown-up soda, (oh, I like the name too :), or even mix up some seltzer and fruit juice to have something “bubbly”. I also don’t drink any kind of commercial fruit juice, even the one with no-sugar added, I prefer whole fruits or sometimes fresh-squeezed fruit juice.
4) If a “food” consists of a long chain of chemical ingredients I can’t pronounce, I don’t eat it. I like to ingest edible materials, not a concoction of chemical particles.
5) I don’t use any kind of sugar substitutes concentrating on raw sugar sources, honey, real maple syrup, agave, or sometimes forgo at all, in tea or in some dishes like pancakes moderating a lack of it by topping it with natural syrups or fruit/fruit puree.
6) If you really crave something specific, don’t substitute, have exactly whatever it is you want no matter the fat/calorie/junk content. Substituting will not eliminate the craving for that specific food but will lead to consuming a lot more of unnecessary foods that you didn’t really want to in the first place. And chances are, you’ll be satisfied with one portion of the desired food and won’t make it your daily staple.
7) I follow a completely gluten free and mostly dairy and soy free diet (I eat dairy on occasion if I want something specific like a cake with whipped cream and I do allow for some soy as in gluten free soy sauce for an occasional sushi outing or as a small amount of soy flour if I want particular sweets). If you’re curious what your food intolerances might be, read more information on Gluten Free page to learn about IgE, IgG food panel and muscle testing. Eliminating foods that are not properly digested and potentially even harmful for your body, not only will help you lose weight but also reduce an inflammation state and probably reduce or eradicate a lot of seemingly unrelated symptoms.
8) A tidbit on soy – another Disclaimer: this is my opinion and my only though some recent research confirms several of the findings. I do not believe soy to be one of the “miracle health” foods. To the contrary, I cringe every time I’m faced with some kind of soy protein (simply because this is what my body is doing inside when I ingest it). Mainly, I don’t eat soy because being a survivor of a hormone dependant breast cancer, eating soy is like feeding sugar to the sugar junkie, and I’d rather starve and deprive the sucker from all the “fixes”. Soy is a source of a mild phytoestrogen, and even though I can’t totally moderate the natural forces of hormone production, I can surely control what comes from the outside. Also, being that soy is a phytoestrogen, and female estrogen hormones are responsible for fat cells development and storage, consistent and ecxessive soy consumption, I believe, will lead to weight gain, in both men and women. Plus, most soy sources unfortunately are genetically modified nowadays, therefore, if you want to eat it, choose organic. Or generally, just pick your battles. I don’t worry about soy lecithin or emulsifier (and if you’re not eating a lot of processed foods, you won’t consume large amounts of it). If I want something specific that contains soy like a particular cookie with soy flour, given that I don’t eat it every day, I don’t worry about it either. Soy oil is often a base for many dressings, mayonnaise, spreads, fried foods, etc, so, just read the labels and choose wisely. I mostly use organic mayo instead of commercial ones that are full of soy oil or my favorite Briannas dressings, one of the very few all natural and soy-free lines of dressings and marinades.
9) And the most important rule – just Enjoy! Food is meant to be savored and used for energy and nutrient value, not for guilt trips or deprivation exercises. Negative emotional response to the food you’re eating will create a negative physical outcome as indigestion or possibly even weight gain. Always satisfy both body and soul!