When is the right time to start a healthy eating and exercise plan? With the millions of dollars spent on diet books, drinks, pills and other diet aids you would think that anytime is the right time. Well, from what I hear from potential clients there is no right time.
They can always find an excuse. Some of the excuses I hear are “school is getting out for the summer, my kids have ball games, we have to go on vacation, it’s Bible School week, it’s State Fair week, school is starting, my kids play sports, it is the Holidays and I know I will overeat, the weather is bad and I can’t get out, I’m just too busy”.
The real truth is that no one wants to be accountable for their own actions. No one wants to do the work. No one can say no, to themselves or others. All I hear are weak excuses.
How many times have you ate poorly and then promised yourself to do better tomorrow? You are only one person, who are you making the bargain with? It’s a child’s game that we play with ourselves. We all do it and we need to stop.
Do you promise yourself to do better and offer yourself bribes if you do? Don’t bribe or reward yourself for acting appropriately. You use the reward method to train a dog (or maybe a child) not yourself. The reward is the satisfaction you feel for acting like an adult and making the correct choices for yourself. Don’t play “Let’s Make a Deal” with yourself, “I’ll eat this fast food meal today but I’ll be good tomorrow”. When you play this game tomorrow never comes.
Special occasions are another problem area. “It’s my Sons Birthday, an anniversary, a night out, etc” are all excuses to overeat. Think about it, there is always going to be a “Special” occasion. What makes it special, the food or the people involved?
You may have to change the way you celebrate special occasions or skip them all together. If you miss a special occasion or arrive after the meal has been eaten you will survive and there will always be another time.
Another pitfall is the “all or nothing” concept. Have you ever contemplated starting a diet and then ate everything in sight because you are “never” going to get to eat that way again? Do you think the food companies are going to stop making the foods you love just because you are on a diet?
No, that donut, candy bar or French fries will always be available and at some point in the future you might be able to indulge, just not now. Rest assured your favorite foods are not going away but their hold on you will lessen as you gain control and become healthier.
Time is also a factor. There are always 24 hours in a day no matter if it is Monday, Wednesday or Saturday. How many times have you started a diet and failed and then two weeks later you say “if only I had stuck to my diet!” Well the time passed regardless of what you did. Don’t look at the total length of time, just take one hour at a time and soon it will be a lifetime.
Ok, now for the payoff. What do we eat? We eat protein (meat, poultry, eggs, and fish), vegetables, fruit and some healthy fats. We use little dairy, just one or two servings per day. We limit the fruit to one or two per day. We limit corn, peas, and potatoes. We try to cut out all sugar and white flour products. We don’t use highly processed foods and we try to use one ingredient foods as much as possible.
Examples of one ingredient foods are carrots, eggs, beef, green beans etc. anything that has not been processed or added to, is a one ingredient food. You can combine any number of one ingredient foods to make recipes and that is not the same as factory processed foods.
You can control you blood sugar by eating several small meals per day that contain protein, carbohydrates from vegetables or fruit and healthy fats. If your blood sugar is under control you won’t feel nearly as hungry.
You need to educate yourself on calorie, carb and fat gram counting. If you have just been counting points you have missed the basic lessons you need to eat healthy. Study basic nutrition and how the various food groups can work for you.
You need to understand the difference between complex and simple carbohydrates. Don’t just expect someone else to figure it out for you. The way to lifelong weight control is truly in understanding.
Once you learn how to effectively count calories you can keep a running total in your head and the whole ordeal becomes much easier.
Another trap is perpetrated by the big food companies and advertisers. I like to think of them like the big tobacco companies. For years the tobacco companies tried to convince us that smoking was a good thing! Look what the tobacco companies did to our parents and grandparents.
The food companies are doing the same thing to us and our children. They spend billions to study us and advertise on a way that will make us buy their products, no matter how poor the nutritional value.
If you look at a super market advertisement nearly all of the products are processed, sugar loaded items that carry no health benefits. When you are cutting calories everything you eat needs to be nutrient dense. And remember “if it is not good for you to eat then it is not good for your family either”.
The saying that “there are no bad foods if eaten in moderation” is also a trap. This statement may be true in some cases but only if all of your health indicators are at optimum levels. But, if you are overweight, diabetic, hypertensive etc. that statement is false.
If you are eating unhealthy foods in the belief that there are “no bad foods” you are replacing nutritious foods with empty calories. When you cut calories you need every calorie to be nutrition dense. You can be overweight and malnourished at the same time. If you are not getting the proper macro nutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fat) vitamins and minerals, you will be hungry all of the time.
If you limit your choices to the nutritious natural food listed above you have eliminated the problematic processed foods. Many “diet” plans let you eat anything you want as long as the “points” don’t go over a prescribed amount. You could eat all donuts and not go over your point allotment but do you think that would be healthy!
Too much freedom can be a bad idea. If you choose healthy meats, vegetable and fruits your servings are larger and more filling as well.
Change the way you perceive food. Think about real money and Monopoly money. If you were going to cash your paycheck which one would you want the bank to give you? Food is also either real or fake and which one do you want for your money?
Processed foods are fake foods and have little food value. Spend your real money on real food that nourishes your body. Don’t waste your hard earned money on products that give you nothing in return.
15 Helpful Hints and Tips
1. Say no to eating out except on rare occasions. Don’t save up calories to eat out and don’t go hungry. Saving you calories up for one big meal is a mistake. You will almost always exceed your calorie allotment for the day in just one big meal. It’s better to eat a few small meals throughout the day and cut down on the “special” meal.
2. Poor nutrition leads to more hunger.
3. Uncontrolled blood sugar causes many health problems and also out of control cravings.
4. Learn to say no and mean it, to yourself and others. There will always be just one more “just this time”.
5. Time is relative; it passes whether you are doing positive or negative behaviors.
6. If it is not good for you it is not good for your family. Don’t let your loved ones live with poor nutrition. Think about a cold winter day. If you need a coat you kids also need their coats. If you need nutritious food your family does also.
7. Everything you spend your money on needs to have nutritional value, unless you like to throw you money away.
8. Keep foods as close to their natural state as possible. No boxes or frozen prepared foods. Frozen and canned vegetables are ok.
9. No soda, fruit juice or drinks. Use milk as a snack or for cooking not as a beverage with a meal.
10. Read food labels, the fewer ingredients the better.
11. No fried foods.
12. Use milk as a snack or meal, not with a meal or as a beverage.
13. No sugar or white flour, or products made with either.
14. Move you body, aim for one hour of exercise at least five days per week.
15. Keep food journals everyday until you are comfortable and in control of you calorie count.