Welcome to the last chapter of my tips to improve your nutritional habits. I hope you will enjoy it! :-)
COOKING METHODS. It is how we cook our meals that really makes the difference: grilling, broiling, boiling, steaming and baking will decrease calorie intake and improve the nutritional value of what we are eating; frying will add empty calories and put our health at risk. Also, food dressings can have a big impact on our calorie intake: herbs and spices will keep our meals light and clean; rich dressings will add empty calories on our dish.
When we do EAT OUT, it does make a difference where we eat. Unfortunately, bars and pubs seem to be the most frequent choice for a gathering with friends, all places with poor food options, both in terms of quality and quantity. Mountains of French fries, huge greasy burgers, heavy sauces, and so on. If it happens every once in a while, it’s no big deal, but if we eat that stuff every time we go out with our friends, our health will take a hit. People tend to underestimate the amount of calories they eat – and drink – in just one of those outings, as there’s barely anything – solid or liquid – that is high in nutritional density. What we can do in these cases is selecting the meeting place, making sure more options are available. If we do our homework, it will pay off.
Most people don’t realize how many calories THEY DRINK. Many “must have” some type of sweet beverage, because “water just doesn’t taste good”. Since sugar IS addicting, if we usually have something sweet to drink with our meals, we will be hooked on it. There are plenty of studies showing the addicting power of sugar, so it’s no mystery why we keep going for it. The same goes for ALCOHOL. We often don’t realize how many calories we consume with our alcoholic drinks. We stay away from those mozzarella sticks, but when the glass is empty, we don’t think twice before refilling. Those calories will add up.
PORTION CONTROL. If we eat just a little less every day, we will be able to better control our body weight. Duh. However, most people don’t do it. I have tons of examples in my mind of people who kept sweating on those cardio machines without losing a pound of body fat. Then something magic happened: they started eating a little less, and body fat just started decreasing. Even if we don’t want to improve our body composition, eating a little less will help us later in our lives. As our metabolism slows down with aging, our body – and pants – will thank us in the future if we start controlling our food portions now. Nothing drastic, just a little less will go a long way.
We think we eat well, but we don’t realize how many mistakes we make until we write a FOOD JOURNAL. It’s a very important tool to make us aware of how our diet really looks like. Once everything is written on paper, it’s easier to strategize ways to make our nutrition healthier. Nutrition journals are also good to check our progress later on.
STRESS can have different effects on people’s nutrition. When I’m stressed out, I have trouble eating because my stomach closes, and doesn’t want any food. When this happens, my immune system weakens, and I tend to get sick more frequently. Others binge on whatever they can grab, and experience completely opposite consequences. Either way, stress can play a huge factor on how we eat. Furthermore, if stress causes LACK OF SLEEP, we have another reason to get rid of it, because studies show that people who are sleep deprived tend to overeat. Do you want to lose body fat? Start by getting enough sleep.
In conclusion, I’m a strong advocate of EATING EVERYTHING. I allow myself to sporadically “break the rules” not only to keep myself “sane”, but also because I think that within certain limits people should be eating whatever they love, even if it happens to be unhealthy. However, if we know something is not good for our system, we should only have it in moderation, and it should be considered a treat that we give ourselves only on special occasions. How often is special? It depends on our blood panel, our level of adaptation to the particular food, our fitness goals and how much we exercise.
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