Sunday, November 4, 2012

Nutrition-Part Two

Diets.  I really hate the popular sense of that word.  "I'm going to go on a diet."  Yuck.  How about just changing daily habits to healthy ones and allow your body to change naturally?  Rather than eating grapefruits and rice cakes for a few weeks to drop some pounds, try eating a balanced array of foods and be healthy?  Don't get me wrong, I've been there more times than I can count.  That's why I feel qualified to say I hate them.  It's honestly a lot easier to just drink Slim Fast for a while than it is to change the foundation of your daily habits FOR LIFE.   It's a heck of a lot simpler to print off 14 days of a meal plan to follow than to walk the aisles of the grocery store trying to figure out what are the best items to put in the basket and how to combine it all into nutritious meals for yourself and the picky-eaters you have banging forks on the table every night!

yes, this is a picture of my real cart one time!
I have to be honest, I do not do this well.  It's one of those things I "know" and don't always "do".  I ate popcorn for lunch and dinner yesterday.  I don't believe there is any redeeming nutritious value to popcorn, and on top of that, it generally makes me sick.   However, I sure do like the way good popcorn tastes while watching a movie.  It's a habit and I know that, but not one I can easily seem to break.  So, yesterday I gave myself permission to indulge and today I'm paying the price.  And THAT is one thing I want to try to address in this post.

There is a cost to everything and our food choices are no exception.  Eating "healthy" means different things to different people.  I do not believe there is a set diet that works for everyone out there.  But if you are eating well for your body the "cost" may be not eating some things that your tongue wishes you would.  You may not get to have the birthday cake someone brought into the office, or the "hot" donuts that look and smell oh so good....or you may not get to "enjoy" popcorn at the movies.  But the pay off comes later when you feel good for your workout, or you are able to wear those jeans you haven't been able to fit in since high school!  The opposite is true as the cake, those donuts, or that popcorn and your taste buds are happy, for a time, but there will be fall out from that taste explosion in your mouth.  It may not happen immediately (most of the time it doesn't), but just like small doses of radiation may not show up right away, repeated exposure will certainly be devastating.

Most people would never consider just writing check after check without knowing if they have the money in the bank to cover the spending spree, but they will eat morsel after morsel without having any idea what they are putting into their digestive system.  Are you a label reader?  Do you know the ingredients of what you ate for your last meal?  You don't need to have a bio-chem degree to figure out some things aren't as useful to your body as others.  Why did you eat what you did for lunch yesterday?  Sometimes that answer is, "because it TASTED good" and I'm not saying that's not okay--ONCE IN A WHILE--just like it's fine to splurge every now and then when spending money.  However, the bill always comes due.  Some people who would never consider writing hot checks are effectively doing that every day with what they are eating.  Those people are the ones gaining pounds year after year.

Now, before you start talking to me about "but my metabolism has slowed down over the years" or "I watch what I eat, I don't know what's happening"...stop.  If I were to go to the grocery store week after week and purchase the exact same items in the exact same quantity...the bill would not be the same each time.  The same is true for how our bodies metabolize food.  What fuel I need will depend on not only what exercises I'm doing (and everything else tied into that -the intensity, duration, time of day, season), but it will also be impacted by the time of month and the amount of other life stress I'm under, not to mention the natural aging process among numerous other factors.

Also...most people have NO IDEA what foods are best for their particular bodies.  It took me a very long time to figure out I had a list of foods which were causing me problems.  I just have never been very observant when it comes to consequences (which is also how I ended up in some serious debt in my youth!).  But, if you are interested in being healthy (or let's face it, some people just want to look good in their jeans), you have to be a student of what's going to work unless you enjoy the "diet" cycle...go on a diet, pull out the skinny jeans, end the diet, pull out the "comfortable" jeans..."suddenly" realize you've gained weight, go on a diet and start the process all over again.

Here are three principles I think are key:

1)  Make CONSCIOUS choices about what you are putting into your body.  Don't allow your taste buds to make the decisions.  Allow the rest of the parts that make up your whole being to weigh in on your food choices (pun completely intended).  I do think it's important to allow the taste buds to win every now and then, but they can't be the dictator.

2)  Have a plan.  Know what you are going to eat and stick to it.  There have been times when I would have eaten anything but because I had a plan about what was best for me, and I had some resolve to stick to the plan, I ate the food I knew was good and then found myself not wanting the other things quite so much.  (That usually works all but one week out of the month...but again, having a plan is the key!)  Keep in mind, it's just the same as having a spending budget.

3)  Get back on track sooner rather than later.  We will all find ourselves "off track" every now and then (some more than others).  When you realize you've fallen off the healthy food wagon, don't wallow in the muck, get back on as quickly as possible.  When I'm at the store after a workout it's very hard for me to keep my wits about me.  I usually want to load up on every unhealthy carb I can get my hands on (because that is what my body thinks it "needs" because accessing stored fat is harder than taking in sugars to replace glycogen I just burned).  I've been doing pretty good at telling myself "step away from the Oreos; step away from the multi-grain tortilla chips".  However, when I come home with something like a container of vanilla frosting (with the best intentions of "I'll just allow myself one teaspoon a day") sometimes I have to throw away "good food" because it becomes painfully obvious I just don't have the self control I'd like to think I have.  Instead of going ahead and sucking down the whole container to get it out of the house, remind yourself, the only difference in it being in the trash or in your mouth are the inches on your hips (or thighs, or stomach).

The overriding key factor is to be kind to yourself.  This healthy eating thing is a process.  You have to eat to live; it's not like you can just give it up.  And, there's no single "right answer".  Be proud of yourself for caring enough to try to do the right thing.  ((Make no mistake, if you read this whole post, you are certainly trying to do the right thing!!))

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!