How to have your cake and eat it too
So, in an effort to share exactly what I do on a daily basis to stay in shape here are some guidelines. I don’t even realize I do these anymore actually, they just come naturally, but over the years I’m sure there were times I learned these tips and tricks the hard way. These are great ways to adhere to that little saying – everything in moderation.
- Don’t keep treats and snacks you love around you at all times, and especially not in your house. It’s just too tempting to eat them until they’re all gone. You know this. I literally will buy one cupcake if I’m craving it, and will savor every bite. But will never buy and entire cake, or the whole thing would be gone in 3 days (again, learned the hard way). The key is knowing yourself; if you know you can’t stop yourself after just one cupcake, then why buy a dozen? It’s just not good common sense.
- Keep yourself accountable by using an online fitness journal. I like http://www.myfitnesspal.com because it also tells me how much of each vitamin I’m getting. I try to keep it under 1600 cals, 11 g of saturated fat, 45 g of sugar and 2300 mg of sodium. This came in handy today when I had a sugar craving but realized I was at 10 g of saturated fat so far so instead of a fun sized snickers, I ate a banana with raw soaked almonds. Easy swap, and my heart thanked me for it.
- Eat every 3 hours. This one varies for everyone. Some people eat every 4 hours if they have long days, and I personally eat every 2 hours, but as long as you’re refueling with mini-meals often, you’re going to notice your metabolism never slows down. You will also notice more energy, less cravings and more endurance during workouts.
- Don’t deprive yourself for too long. This one is tricky and depends on your goals, you as a person, and your behavior. But for me personally I am able to add in a treat a day, or even two and still stay under my cals and fat for the day. For example I may have a piece of dark chocolate after lunch and a glass of red wine with dinner. As long as you’re staying within your calories and getting whole, organic produce in your diet – you shouldn’t notice a difference. (Other than your satisfaction level of course). Plus, we all know deprivation only leads to feeling like punishment which leads to overeating, which leads to guilt. Then the whole cycle starts all over again.
- Enjoy your food. This may sound simple, however you’d be surprised how many people just shovel food in their mouths without the slightest thought to its taste, texture, smell, or feel. This is important if you want to: A. Slow down to allow your stomach the 20mins to know you’re full, and B. Feel satisfied after each meal. Some people have a better sense of smell than others and so, they will tend to enjoy their food more. However if you take a look at how a baby eats, they really look at the food, play with it, take their time – we could learn a thing or two from them. (Just make sure you don’t get it all over your face of course).
- Plan ahead. Before I go to a restaurant I’ll do a little research online first. Usually I check out my Urbanspoon app to see what the reviews say, if there’s anything I shouldn’t get, and of course – the MENU! How else will you be prepared if you don’t check it out? I see what I haven’t had to eat already, or what is the opposite of what dinner will be. For example, tonight if I’m having whole grain pasta then at lunch I may do seafood and steamed veggies to balance it out. Balance and variety are keys to everything you do, both nutritionally and physically.
- Choose wisely; every time. Every time I sit down to a meal I don’t even have to think hard about it anymore. I already know I need to pick a veggie with a protein to make sure I absorb all the iron. For example with a fish I’ll choose asparagus or broccoli so the vitamin c in the veggies helps me absorb the iron in the fish. (I’ve decided to eat fish occasionally for the iron and omegas). I know that brightly colored or green veggies give me lots of antioxidants, phytochemicals and vitamins. I also know that most potatoes are doused in fungicides, pesticides and even the seeds are doused, so I don’t want to risk it there. But again, moderation is key, so sometimes you just have to live a little. Which brings me to….
- Live a little! For the love of God try something new for a change! If you have eaten the same meal at the same restaurant for a year, it’s time to switch it up. Try a new place, new menu item, or try to cook your old favorite standby meal. But whatever you do, try new things. Variety is the spice of life, and you need a change from the old mundane!
- Indulge. Finally, my favorite trick. This is different than #7 because I’m talking about a food that offers little to no nutritional value. I’m talking about cheating! Call it whatever you like, your brain has long been wired to like sweet things because in nature, it meant it wasn’t poisonous. If you crave sweet, salty, fatty, whatever – eat it once a week. One meal a week should be a cheat/indulgence meal to keep your sanity. But only one, and no to-go boxes (that would make two meals). Only order what you can eat in one sitting without stuffing yourself too much, and make sure you workout the next day to burn it off. I have done this for years and have never gained a pound from it. I also eat super healthy the rest of the day to allow for this cheat. A cheat meal can be anything you like – a couple slices of pizza, a burger, a slice of chocolate cake, whatever. And take your time savoring every, single, bit. You deserve it for all that hard work you’ve been doing! Now some of us can have two cheat meals a week and get by with it. But those who do work out very hard, are under the age of 40, and haven’t had children. I hear these things make a difference, but haven’t experienced them for myself just yet.
- Eat everything on a plate or in a bowl. Everything. This makes you slow down and practice portion control. If you sit down in front of the TV with a bag of anything, chances are you’ll eat more than one serving. But not if you put a serving in a bowl or on a plate. I even put my snacks on paper plates at work like banana slices and pecan halves. Plus, visually it makes you more aware of how much you’ve eaten. Finally, try blue plates and bowls. Since nothing you cook is ever a dark blue color, and blue isn’t a food found in nature, it makes your brain realize how much food you’re actually getting, and you won’t eat as much. This one really worked for me. Sounds strange, but true.
So there ya have it! I hope these have been helpful, and if you ever have any questions, feel free to ask away.
These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any diseases. As with everything, check with your doctor first. All content is provided for general information only and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. Shauna Carpenter is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content of her personal WordPress blog. Shauna Carpenter does not endorse any commercial product(s) or service(s) mentioned, and is not paid by any of the sites or people mentioned.