My weight is higher than normal and I am not happy about it!
You may be able to relate. After a whirlwind of celebrations this past year (my firstborn daughter married my wonderful new son-in-love and the feasting was reminiscent of Biblical times!) I got a little comfortable. It is now time to regroup –and my weight management journey continues. Thankfully, I have a plan to win!
I am in good company. Nationally, most of us overeat or emotionally eat more than necessary for good health. As of 2019, close to 40% of Americans are overweight. Restaurant portions are huge, yet we cannot expect to eat like the rest of society and still have great outcomes.
Just as there is a school to prison pipeline, there is also a fast food to chronic illness pipeline. Companies market fast food to children and young adults, and then market diabetes and heart disease medicine to their parents. Food deserts are most often found in low income communities. This means that many cannot simply pop into a Whole Foods store to buy hot take-out food that is nutritious. But they can have the choice of every cheap, fast and fried food item imaginable with hardly a vegetable in sight!
Here are a few tips for the nutritionally conscious who need a practical weight management strategy…
#1 Cool Water
Carry a water bottle at all times and sip it throughout the day. In addition to staying hydrated, this is also a good look! If you are like me and don’t love to drink water, then try paying for it. If I purchase a bottle of Pellegrino or SmartWater, the cost motivates me to finish it all. Sparkling mineral water is tasty and adding lemon slices to plain water also helps.
People have differing opinions about the use of diet sodas and sweeteners like Splenda in coffee. My view is that no type of soda is good for you, so if I choose to have soda, I drink the diet version. The key idea is not to drink many calories from the day’s allotment. We need to use calories for actual food!
#2 Eat All Day
I know right?! Sounds counterproductive but it actually helps with keeping blood sugar levels steady and reduces cravings. Skipping meals is not helpful! Eat a small portion shortly after waking up and then every 2 to 3 hours (like an infant’s feeding schedule) –stopping a while before bedtime. Obviously, the portions will need to be small to make a goal of between 1500 to 1800 calories last all day, but by eating 90% protein and veggies and fitting in some fruit, nuts, dairy and a little whole grain, -hunger stays in check. I have a refrigerator in my office for fresh food options. If you work in a different setting, keep non-perishable, filling snacks like turkey jerky, nuts, or protein bars on your person, so you can nibble as needed.
Make peace with tummy rumbles, they are a friendly alarm to help us to plan for the next feeding. When you are eating 90% protein/veggie, trying new foods will become important. I get ideas from walking through the produce section, looking at the vegetable options, and imagining ways to cook them. That’s how I came up with my Italian Ground Turkey Meat Sauce with Broccoli Straw recipe! Most people know that cooking at home is the best option, but many times we are on the run! When traveling, I am committed to carrying a lunch bag, or zip-lock baggies of nuts and fruits so that I do not make rash food decisions. If caught without snacks, I do unconventional things like stop in a Target store to buy a banana, or a jar of peanut butter and a box of plastic spoons –just so that I can have a spoonful of natural peanut butter for one of my day’s snacks. If I am going out to eat, I try to look up the menu and decide what to order before I arrive. Make a list of restaurants that serve lean protein with hot vegetables and salads and go there! Mindfulness and planning are key.
#3 Balance – Keep Your Gains!
Once the changes become routine, anticipate additional challenges. We’ve all been there. As soon as you commit to eating well, someone throws a big celebration or backyard barbecue, full of your favorite treats that do not fall into the protein/veggie category. A good strategy is to bless the host by bringing something to share that is nutritious, or scan the table only resting your eyes on items like meat, cheese, fruit and veggies that will tide you over until you can have a regular meal. White bread, potatoes, pasta, rice and sweets should be a rare treat and a very small portion. As is often said, we can out-eat any exercise that we do. Exercise tones and conditions our bodies which is important, but proper nutrition keeps weight in check.
Wait, so I will never again have ice cream on a hot day?
Balance would teach us to go ahead and order the kids cone from Chick Fila today, –but tomorrow, add lots of ice to your water in order to cool off. Another substitute is a protein packed ice cream bar, like Chilly Cow.
Shame is an enemy of weight loss. If you make a mistake (only Jesus didn’t) get back up and keep going! Small changes equal actual results. Slow and steady wins the race!
If you decide that you must have an old favorite, like Doritos, minimize the portion to a kid’s snack size bag and ask yourself why you want to eat it. If you are craving salt, you can make substitutions with something like homemade popcorn if you are mindful of “the why.” Some food cravings are triggered by emotions or memories, so journaling may be helpful instead of giving in to highly palatable options.
Begin thinking of trigger foods as a bad boyfriend making a late night call.
Keep yourself accountable with once per week weight tracking. Let people see your progress instead of talking about food to anyone who will listen. If saying no to second helpings does not seem like an option, a food addiction may exist. Look to a nutritionist for help and pray for deliverance!
You are AMAZING and there will only ever be one you to grace the earth!
We are blessed to have options when it comes to eating, as so much of the world is plagued by poverty and hunger. Join me and get in the game! Spring Training begins now, for our best season ever!