I get frustrated by nutrition and diet recommendations coming from the news media and even official bodies like doctors and government organizations. The recommendations constantly contradict each other, and no one seems to agree on what you should or should not eat. Foods that were once bad for you, like eggs, are now fine. Foods that were once healthful, like margarine, are now deadly. Now the thinking seems to be shifting from the best diet being one that is low in fat and skimpy on meat to one that is low in carbohydrates and high in protein.
The only thing everyone seems to agree on is that we need to eat more vegetables and cut back on sugar. This advice makes sense, and I can certainly get behind it. But I don’t want to live my life constantly worried about what I am eating or restricting myself from eating any particular food. A life without bread or cookies doesn’t seem worth it somehow. Food should be about taking care of yourself and taking pleasure in life, in my opinion.
Regardless of what you eat, I have found that the real key to losing or maintaining weight is how much you eat. In our efforts to get ourselves to a weight we feel comfortable with, my husband and I have had the most success not when we’ve restricted what we eat but when we control portion sizes. The basic rule is this: Instead of eating everything on the plate, or filling the plate, eat half. Don’t eat to busting, but leave the table still feeling a little hungry. (It generally takes a half-hour after eating to feel satisfaction.) Only eat when truly hungry; no mindless snacking.
When you’re eating less, you naturally cut back on carbs and sweet treats, and start eating more proteins with fat like nuts, cheese and eggs. That’s because protein and fat are naturally more satiating. It’s easier to fuel yourself on less food when they make up more of the diet. But that doesn’t mean that carbohydrates or even the occasional sweet are no longer on the table.
It may seem restrictive, but not allowing yourself processed or packaged foods helps a lot. Treats like cookies, crackers and chips are still allowed, but only if you make them yourself. I’ve even cut way back on bread since I stopped allowing myself to buy processed bread and rolls. (I still allow locally baked loaves, but I’m not buying as much, as I’m challenging myself to bake more of my own bread.)
When it comes to official recommendations on what we should or shouldn’t eat, I tend to discount 99 percent of what I hear. I believe that we don’t really know what’s best for us or what’s harmful, but a little of any one food is not likely to hurt you. When it comes to losing weight or keeping it off, moderation seems to be the key. And if you’re actually enjoying what you do eat, I think you’ll be satisfied eating less of it.
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- 7 habits of highly successful snackers (cnn.com)