Ugh! How to undo the bad eating habits of my life?! Where do i begin? As you may know from past posts on this blog...i grew up in a loving, Italian family. In our house, growing up, food was comfort, love and reward. Holiday, birthday, celebration or funeral...it was all about the food. The four main food groups were bread, pasta, butter and sweets. My mom is and my grandmothers were amazing cooks. Portion control and moderation were never figured into it. We loved food (still do) and it was a major part of our family gatherings. Now, i'm not blaming my family for my battle of the bulge. I definitely got myself into this. I'm just saying that i didn't get here overnight and i am educating myself to learn how to balance my love for food and a smarter way to eat it.
My plan is not a radical one. It's simply common sense. It's smart choices and self control. It's not about deprivation. Here is the foundation of my everyday plan for healthy eating...
Eat only when you actually feel hungry. This was eye opening for me. I used to eat because there was food in front of me, or because it was just time to eat. This is something that babies and toddlers have mastered and sadly, we break them of this divine instinct. We say, "it's time for dinner, you must eat." They say "but, i'm not hungry" and we make them eat anyway. Eventually, we un-learn how to listen to our bodies for that innate signal that we should nourish our bodies. So, now, it's time to re-learn that instinct. Listen to your body. It doesn't take long before you will feel those hunger pangs and know it's time to eat.
Portion control. Your fist is the size that your stomach is supposed to be. Eat any amount of food beyond that at any one time, and the excess will stick with you...literally. I'm not going to lie...in the beginning, i was still hungry after a meal. But, that changed very quickly. And you will see, that if you would just allow your food to digest for 20 minutes after eating your fist-size meal, you will find yourself quite satisfied.
Whoa...slow down! Don't even think about taking another bite while you're still chewing on the last one! I know you've done that...mindlessly...we all have. But, smaller portions mean appreciating every single bite.
Eat a small healthy snack between breakfast and lunch and between lunch and dinner. This keeps your metabolism working constantly through the day and prevents you from overeating during your main meals. My typical between meal snacks are some kind of fruit, cheese stick, almonds, or hummus and carrot sticks.
Satisfy your sweet tooth or it will bite you. I know that after i have a savory/salty meal, i have to have a small little morsel of sweet or it will drive me crazy, or worse, drive me to indulge in something that i will regret. I told you my plan is not about deprivation. My go-to sweet tooth saver is the Brookside dark chocolate acai with blueberry from Costco. OMG!!!! These little bites feel like you're being so bad, but they're actually a smart choice. 3-5 of these little guys after lunch and dinner is all i need to feel satisfied. Dark chocolate is good for you and these are loaded with antioxidents, too. YUM!!!
Eat more fresh and less processed. You've heard it before, shop only the foods around the perimeter of your grocery store to eat well. It's the boxed, processed foods that sabotage your new, healthy way of eating. It's true. Start small, by making sure that you are eating at least one fresh food item (fruit, veggies, protein, dairy) at each meal. Then, slowly replace your processed foods with more fresh.
It's okay to partake in an occasional dessert. Just don't over-do it! The family is going out for ice cream? Order a kiddie size. Family birthday party? Ask for a sliver of cake or simply take a few bites and throw your plate away! Dont' let it sit in front of you, taunting you. Split a dessert with someone or opt for fruit instead. You still get the sweet, without the guilt! My personal rule is a small dessert only one time per week. It's not a daily choice for me and it is never a reward. My reward is seeing that number going down on the scale and my clothes not fitting anymore!
Keep a journal of your daily choices. Sometimes it's surprising to see how much you are actually eating in a day. A friend recently introduced me to www.myfitnesspal.com . It's a FREE website that allows you to keep track of your food choices and exercise everyday. It tracks your calories, fats, proteins and carbs for you. This has been a great tool for me and helps to keep me on track. There's even an app for that!
Let everyone in on your "journey". Wow, the best thing i did was announce on my blog that i was doing this. The support is amazing! People want to help me succeed. And, i feel less desire to "cheat" because i know others are following my progress. Tell your family, your friends and co-workers. They will support you and celebrate with you as you succeed.
I'm certainly not perfect in this. I'm doing the very best i can. I'm learning this new "in moderation" lifestyle as i go along. I just know that in this short amount of time, i'm seeing results and LOVING it!