Submitted by: Joanne Perez, Real Bite Nutrition
With so many fad diets and so much nutrition information floating around in cyberspace, how do you really know what’s the best way to eat for health and happiness? As a dietitian, I am the first one to say that information about food, nutrition and eating changes daily and is often overwhelming. One day the headline is “Breakfast Is A Must.” The next day, you might see “The Benefits Of Eating Breakfast Are A Sham.” I am often confused by all the data, and I know what to look for when reading a study or article. This is why I try not to get caught up in the headlines, and why I have some basic tips for eating to get healthy and happy.
Going back to the basics is always a great place to start and many times all you need for good health and happiness. So make these things part of your life and leave all the data interpretation to me.
- Eat Food – This might seem obvious, but many people simply do not eat enough. If you are not giving your body enough food, i.e. energy, how can it possibly keep you from breaking down physically and mentally? Your body knows when you are starving it so it holds onto your fat stores. In addition, your metabolism slows down when your body is starved making it harder to even maintain your weight.
- Break The Fast – Your body needs something to get its engine started in the morning. It doesn’t have to be a big meal, just consist of some protein and carbohydrate.
- Don’t Label Food – As soon as you label a food “bad,” you will want it more than ever. Labeling leads to binging. No food is “bad.” There are some that are better for you than others, but all foods can fit into your diet. It’s all about moderation not elimination.
- Have The Real Thing – If you really want ice cream, the fat free stuff is just not going to cut it. Chances are you will eat at least two times more of the imitation frozen dessert. Fat is what makes premium ice cream so good. It gives it texture and body so when that is missing, you will eat more in an attempt to achieve that same mouth feel. I always tell people that you are better off having a small amount of the real stuff versus a lot of the fake stuff. In addition, the lower fat, lower sugar version often comes from a lab. So go ahead and use that butter pat.
- Be A Mindful Eater – Don’t eat in front of the TV or in your car. When you are eating, be relaxed so you can truly enjoy the food.
- Don’t Skip Meals – Do you really think you are capable of making smart choices when you are hungry? Eating more frequently not only helps to keep your blood sugar steady, reducing cravings, but also, prevents you from bingeing and making less than stellar food choices.
- Have A Drink or Two – Many times you are just thirsty, not hungry. It is important to stay well hydrated and water is the best choice. At a minimum, you should drink 64 ounces per day.
- Add Protein – You can eat too much protein (and no eating more will not give you bigger muscles), but it is important to make sure you have some each time you eat. Protein helps you feel full. It slows down the absorption of sugar into your blood stream so you’ll have energy for a longer period of time.
Those are my food/eating ABCs, but there are three other basic that I believe everyone should incorporate into their life. Doing the following three things will help you on your journey to a healthy and happy life.
- Hit The Hay – When you are short on sleep, your body increases the production of Ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger and causes your body to retain fat. A small study found that you might actually eat 500 more calories when you are sleep deprived.
- Move That Body – Exercise can be anything that gets you moving. It can be a dance party with your kids or friends, a long run to clear your head or even a walk with a four-legged buddy (dogs need exercise too). You need to find a couple of things that you enjoy so you will get up on your feet and make them part of your daily routine.
- Set Attainable Goals – Daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly goals can help keep you focused and decrease stress. A less stressed Joanne is definitely a happier and healthier Joanne. Your goals should be realistic and attainable. Achieving a goal should make you feel good about yourself and give you a sense of accomplishment.
There is no real secret to healthy eating. Many people overeat when they are stressed or hungry so just reducing the occurrences of those two things in your life could lead to a healthy and happier you.