Contributed by: Joanne Perez, Real Bite Nutrition
As a dietitian, I try to help people get healthy. I want people to feel good about food, their bodies and eating. And as much as I would like to believe that what I have to say will make people take notice and implement changes, I know that my words have very little influence over most people (including my teenage son). So am I just wasting my time trying to help people realize that life is too short to not take a real bite?
Many times when I tell people that I am a dietitian, their first response is “go ahead and tell me what I should be eating.” Nothing annoys more than being labeled as a member of the food police. I don’t believe in rules when it comes to your diet. As I have said before, there are no good and bad foods. Your body and mind control how, what and why you eat a certain food and a certain amount.
My job is to be a knowledgable source who is supportive and realistic. So here are some hints to help you find your way to healthy and happy eating:
Eat Real Food
If you can’t pronounce the majority of ingredients in a food, you probably want to limit eating it. Many of the overly processed and chemically engineered foods that you love can easily be made at home. Think about how easy it is to buy some nuts, raisins, chocolate chips and make your own trail mix. A real food might be a little higher in calories, but it is also higher in nutrients.
Start Your Day With Breakfast
A study in the August issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has people questioning the merits of breakfast when it comes to weight loss. But here’s the thing about breakfast, it is about so much more that weight loss. Breakfast jump starts your metabolism, which slows down while you are sleeping, and gets your body energized for the day. A breakfast that includes complex carbohydrates and protein is a great way to “break the fast” with the vitamins, minerals and calories (i.e. energy) your body needs to get going.
Trust Your Body
Unfortunately, many of us have forgot the difference between hunger and appetite. Hunger is the need for food where as appetite is the desire for food (or anything for that matter). If you trust your body’s “hunger” cues, you will most likely eat when your body needs food and stop when it doesn’t.
Limit Fast Food
You can still eat fast food once in a while, but it shouldn’t be your daily lunch or dinner choice. And although there are healthier options available, are you really going to be happy with a salad when a picture of a burger & fries is staring you in the face?
Don’t Skip Meals
Who makes smart choices when they are starving? Skipping meals not only slows your metabolism (your body telling you that it can’t function without food), but also sets you up for destructive eating behaviors later when you eat your way through the pantry. Find a eating schedule that works with your body and life.
Keeping your body hydrated is necessary for a healthy body and mind. Many times, we think we are hungry, but our bodies are really just thirsty. Keep a bottle with you at all times and sip throughout the day.
Enjoy Snacks Every Day
A snack will help keep you from overeating at your next meal. A handful of almonds or a small apple with a piece of string cheese make great easy snacks.
Eat More Veggies
Vegetables not only provide you with tons of vitamins, minerals and fiber, but also add color and texture to your plate. Remember, most people eat with their eyes!
Don’t Try To Be Perfect, Be Realistic
There is no perfect way to eat and being too strict with your diet can lead to food unhappiness. A daily “treat” keeps you from a binge and teaches moderation. You should enjoy what you are eating and never feel deprived.