Everyone seems so incredibly focused on how much you eat. You can’t turn on the television or radio (or Spotify if you’re me) without hearing about how Weight Watchers, or Jenny Craig, or NutriSystem. I know I’m missing some here. Believe me-I get it!
I’ve tried pretty much every diet out there. Medifast, NutriSystem, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers…and none of them have worked long term. I think that’s because there is way too much attention on your calorie deficit. While the number of calories you consume does affect your weight and energy level, it’s certainly not the “holy grail” of health everyone is making it out to be.
When I’m “on plan” I lose weight, feel good, and everything is wonderful. Then I finish the “program” and suddenly the weight comes back in full force.
Just me? I didn’t think so.
I believe that this happens because nutrition and diet info is everywhere. And it does a bang up job of contradicting itself constantly.
Every expert or association does their best to convince you that their way is right and that they know best and their advice is going to help you. I get it. I’m right there with them…maybe. I know what you’re thinking – “Brea, you give me nutrition and diet information! Are you contradicting yourself?!”
Possibly…and I’ll get to that in a minute. But first, let’s start with the basics: does how much you eat matter?
Calories In, Calories Out…Maybe?
Let’s think about this. We don’t often talk about the how and the what. So let’s chat. What you eat and how you eat it matters. So much so that there is a ton of new research looking at the difference between eating whole foods and processed foods…that amount to the same number of calories.
It’s true that if you eat 1000 calories a day of candy bars, chips, and slim jims, you’ll likely lose weight. But will you be healthy? Probably not.
Y’all. This shouldn’t be a shock to people. But it seems to be.
The “calories in, calories out” philosophy is more than a bit outdated. Don’t get me wrong-limiting calories, carbohydrates, or fats can definitely help you lose weight (as long as you know what you’re doing) but that’s not the only factor for lasting weight loss or energy for everyone.
We’ve learned that when on a diet that’s extremely restrictive of an entire category of foods, we might lose weight in the short-term, but generally people will gain it back quickly when resuming a “normal” diet. I know that I do.
Now, I’m not saying you should never track your calories, fat, or carbs. For some people, especially those needing help re-learning what a good portion size is, tracking can be really helpful. But what you eat is proving to be far more important.
What You Eat
Ideally, you need a varied diet full of minimally-processed foods (i.e. fewer “packaged” “ready-to-eat” foods). This simple concept is paramount for weight loss, energy, and overall health and wellness. However, if you’re getting most of your daily diet from packaged foods, it won’t seem “simple” to move away from this Standard American Diet.
Every day this is what you should aim for:
- A colorful array of fruits and veggies at every meal and snack. You need the fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals they contain.
- Enough protein. Make sure you get all of those essential amino acids (bonus: eating protein can increase your metabolism).
- Healthy fats and oils (never “hydrogenated” ones). There is a reason some fatty acids are called “essential” – you need them as building blocks for your hormones and brain as well as to be able to absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins from your all those fruits and veggies you’re eating. Use extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil, eat your organic egg yolks, and get grass-fed meats when possible. Add avocado to just about anything!
How You Eat and Drink
You also need to pay attention to how you eat and drink.
Studies are showing that this has much more of an impact than we previously thought.
Are you rushed, not properly chewing your food, and possibly suffering from gastrointestinal issues? Do you drink your food?
When it comes to how you eat let’s first look at “mindful eating”.
Mindful eating means taking smaller bites, eating slowly, chewing thoroughly, and savoring every bite. When you eat mindfully, you notice and appreciate the smell, taste, and texture. Breathe between bites. Set down your fork or spoon for a moment.
This gives your digestive system the hint to prepare for digestion and to secrete necessary enzymes.
This can also help with weight loss because eating slower often means eating less. Did you know that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full? Are you done with your average meal in less than 20 minutes?
Thought so! And I’m in the same boat.
We know that more thoroughly chewed food is easier to digest which it makes it easier to absorb all of those essential nutrients. So slow down, ok?
A Word About Smoothies
Y’all know I’m a fan of making a quick smoothie for breakfast or lunch – especially when I’m busy working.
And yes, smoothies can be healthy and a fabulously easy and tasty way to get in some fruits and veggies (hello leafy greens!) but drinking too much food can contribute to a weight problem and feelings of sluggishness.
Don’t get me wrong a green smoothie can make an amazingly nutrient-dense meal and is way better than stopping for convenient junk food. Just make sure you’re not adding meal-sized smoothies in as snacks when you really just need a few carrot sticks.
Make sure you drink smoothies slowly so you can stop when you’re actually full.
If your smoothies don’t fill you up like a full meal does, try adding in a spoonful of fiber like ground flaxseeds or chia seeds, or adding a high-quality protein powder, like the Pure Protein Complete.
Bringing The Conversation Full Circle
Okay. Now that we’re on the same page, let’s talk about why you should listen to me. The truth is that maybe you shouldn’t. At least when it comes to what you eat.
What I mean is, health and nutrition are highly personal. While that diet of candy bars and chips isn’t healthy for anyone, you may find that the diet you feel healthiest on isn’t exactly like mine. Maybe, like me, you feel best eating a Paleo Diet. Maybe it’s a Vegetarian Diet. Or fully Vegan. Or a Mediterranean Diet.
My point is, pay attention to how your body feels and performs as you eat different foods so you can learn what optimally fuels you.
Since I’ve transitioned to Paleo and the Autoimmune Protocol, I’ve found that my energy has increased and I’ve felt so much better. You may find that you feel awful. That’s okay! Pay attention to how you feel after you eat a meal, and make adjustments based on that. That being said, don’t expect to feel amazing if you subsist on lots of processed foods and sweets.
You probably noticed that I mentioned my newest obsession, Pure Protein Complete when I was talking about smoothies for a minute. It’s a high-quality protein powder developed by the brilliant minds over at Young Living, and I am loving it. It comes in a vanilla chai flavor that is delicious with fresh or freeze-dried fruits, or on its own.
If you haven’t started using Young Living to clean up your life, now’s a great time to jump in (especially if you just got your tax return!):
I would love to help you get the “yuck” out of your home.
What do you eat that makes you feel your best?