Losing Weight and Keeping It Off: Recipe For Success

Losing weight is hard; Keeping it off may even be harder.  For years, the mantra has been, “Eat less and exercise more,” but that has done little in the way of helping people to overcome the challenges to weight maintenance.  A famous talk show host used to say, “when you know better, you do better” and she’s got a point.  I don’t think people engage in risky health behaviors because they don’t know what to do, but rather they don’t know how to do it differently.  Obesity is not a disease of willpower and so the treatment can’t simply be, “try harder.”  I have had the honor and privilege of working with so many men and women who have fought hard to get healthy and I can tell you that their willpower isn’t lacking.  It’s not willpower, but as Dr. Pamela Peek says, it’s “wellpower” strategy.  Instead of relying on willpower, which is limited, use that willpower to develop strategies that provide lasting results. So what’s the secret to losing weight and keeping it off? It’s actually more straightforward than people might realize, but it’s not easy. Let’s look at the formula for success.

The 4 tenets of weight loss success are nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress management.  

Nutrition

If you want to lose weight, you must cut calories.  This is paramount.  In terms of weight loss, calorie reduction is more important than exercise. Surprised? It’s a shocker for most people because we’ve all been told we’re sitting too much (which is true), but to lose body fat a person has to burn more calories (energy) than they are consuming.  I won’t go so far as to say it’s simply a matter of calories in and calories out, but creating an energy deficit must happen for weight loss to occur and the best way to do that is through energy restriction. Eat more nutrient-dense foods; Eat less high-calorie foods.  There’s a famous saying that holds true for most and it’s worth repeating: you can’t out exercise a bad diet.

Exercise

Exercise is EXTREMELY important for health, but in terms of weight management, it’s role is most important in the weight maintenance phase.  Exercise is wonderful medicine and it’s totally free for anyone to use.  To prevent weight regain, the ACSM recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise per week, but stresses that some individuals may benefit from > 250 minutes a week to prevent weight regain. Exercise helps to prevent muscle loss that can occur with weight loss, which is important since a decrease in muscle tissue would mean a decrease is resting metabolic rate (slowed metabolism).  This is why we do body composition testing for all of our clients.

One overlooked side effect of exercise can be an increase in appetite.  Pay attention to how exercise affects your appetite and your thinking.  Does exercise lead to increased hunger and eating?  Do you find that hard workouts leads to rewarding yourself with food?  Pay close attention to how exercise affects your eating. It’s not uncommon for people to overestimate their calorie burn with exercise.

Sleep

The role of sleep in weight loss is getting more and more attention, and for very good reason.  If a person is not getting enough sleep, they likely won’t have the energy to spare towards meal planning and exercise.  Under stress, they are more likely to succumb to food cues in their environment and also tend to crave sugar and high-calorie snacks.  Chronic sleep deprivation impairs your decision-making ability and affects your appetite regulating hormones, ghrelin and leptin.  This means you tend to feel hungrier and remain less satisfied when you do eat.

Stress Management

Chronic stress affects weight both directly and indirectly.  A person under stress rarely has time or energy to think about planning nourishing meals and they certainly don’t have time for exercise. The biological effects of stress creates a strong drive to eat highly processed food-like substances (aka, junk food).  Junk food is cheap, legal and a socially accepted way of soothing emotions.  If you want to get a handle on your food choices, you’ll first have to identify and eliminate sources of chronic stress in your life.

Losing weight for life requires a complete transformation in all areas of mind, body and soul.  Long-standing habits and behaviors must be challenged and replaced with life-giving behaviors.  People who are successful at losing weight and keeping it off are determined to get at the root behaviors.  They are persistent and tend to surround themselves with people who are also committed to improving their health.  There’s a special quote from author Steve Maraboli and he says, “if you hang around chickens, you are going to cluck and if you hang out with eagles you’re going to fly.”

Are you a successful loser?  Join the national study at the National Weight Control Registry:  http://nwcr.ws/

weight-loss-recipe-for-success-graphic

Exercise Is Medicine

What if there were one pill you could take daily that protected against disease, cancer, aging and a host of other maladies?  In addition, it might cure depression and counter the harmful effects of stress and anxiety.  And then, what if I added that this pill was super low cost, and without any unwanted side effects?  As it turns out, exercise is that magic pill.

Exercise:

  • Improves memory and cognitive function
  • Improves mood, induces happiness and sense of well-being
  • Reduces risk of colon, breast, lung and endometrial cancer (and likely many others)
  • Improves cognitive function by enhancing neurogenesis and neuroplastisty (new brain cells and synaptic connections)
  • Improves function of endocrine system (naturally balances hormones)
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Reduces risk of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s dementia
  • Improves self-confidence
  • Reduces pain
  • Reduces blood pressure naturally
  • Promotes blood sugar control/increases insulin sensitivity
  • Reduces inflammation in the body
  • Improves immune function (get sick less frequently)
  • Increases muscular strength and flexibility
  • Prevents weight gain

Most people understand that exercise is good for them on a surface level, but they’ve heard the same recycled message over and over.  Simply knowing that exercise is good for health doesn’t automatically translate into someone adopting it as a health behavior.  So the question we all need to ask is, how specifically is exercise good for MY body?  The challenge here is that oftentimes we won’t know the answer to this question until we have been practicing the behavior for some time.  For example, you wouldn’t appreciate the mood-boosting effects of running until you were 20 minutes into the run, and you wouldn’t be able to appreciate the full health benefits until running became routine, instead of something you did just once or twice.

It’s worth pointing out that exercise should ultimately be something you enjoy, and it certainly doesn’t need to be complicated.  If you have been inactive for some time, there will be discomfort as your body adapts to the new physical demands.  But once you build an aerobic and fitness base, you will come to need physical challenge much the same way you need to eat and sleep.  Movement and physical activity is natural.  Being sedentary is not.  Bodies are designed to move and not sit for 8 hours at a time.  At its core, exercise should work the cardiovascular system and the musculoskeletal system.  This means cardio + building or maintaining muscle and bone tissue.  Bone, by the way, is living tissue.  Incorporating resistance training into your exercise routine helps protect against sarcopenia and osteopenia.  Translated, this means strong muscles and strong bones—a sturdy frame that you have the privilege of using while on this earth.  This body is the only one you have, so take good care of it.

Finally, keep in mind that it’s not all or nothing and any exercise is better than no exercise.  Find some movements and activities that you can do and just start doing them.  Get creative with your exercise and try new things.  One of the most important things you can do in the beginning stages is to surround yourself with others who are committed to an active lifestyle.  Try some group fitness classes or hiking groups.  Spend money by hiring a personal trainer who can encourage, inspire and push you to do more than you thought you could.  Whatever you do, just get moving and stay moving.  Practice.

“The most effective way to do it, is it to do it.”–Amelia Earhart

Weight Loss: Recipe For Success

This time of the year, I’m acutely aware of the challenges that we all face when it comes to this health-giving lifestyle we’re all striving for.  Striving is a strong word, but it’s an accurate way to describe how hard we all must fight to maintain our health habits during the holidays.  To say it’s a struggle would be an understatement.

Not just about willpower
Too often with weight loss, it’s implied that willpower is the deciding factor between who can successfully manage their weight, and who cannot.  But willpower is limited and actually plays a minor role in health behaviors.  Instead, the keys to success have more to do with arranging your environment and social situations (cues) then it does with willpower.  Instead of relying on willpower, which is limited, try arranging your world so that the health habits flow naturally.  If you want to eat less calories, serve yourself on a smaller plate and bulk it up with vegetables.  If you are trying to make a habit of walking every day, set your shoes and socks by the door the night before.

  In order to adopt health habits that work, you need to set yourself up to succeed.  Spend time with people who are active and have a diverse range of active hobbies, for example,  and you’ll likely find yourself being more active.  Peer pressure is a highly under-rated tool.  Unfortunately, peer-pressure usually works to reinforce negative health habits.  Once you understand the power of social and environmental cues, you will develop strategies that work for you instead of against you.

If you are tired of the yo-yo diet cycle, you’ll have to get off the hamster wheel.  Don’t wait until January to start making some changes, but instead, start making tiny changes now and you’ll be way ahead of the game.  When everyone else is starting their annual purge-diet, you’ll be in a much better position to establish habits that you can actually stick with.

     Diets can produce short-term results, but a lifestyle change requires planning, commitment and a change to existing habits.  A lifestyle change requires an honest assessment of current health habits.  Scratch below the surface of bad eating habits and likely you will find an emotional attachment to foods.  So in essence, it’s not about the right diet or perfect foods, but rather it’s about dealing with the emotional and psychological factors—dealing with the “why” behind the eating behavior and unfortunately, there’s not one magical fix for that.  The journey requires deep introspection and honesty.  It requires a commitment to work hard, despite some setbacks along the way.  If you want “it” bad enough, you’ll fight hard for it.  The question you have to ask yourself:  is it worth it?  I hope you find the answer is an emphatic YES!

We love what we do.  We love partnering with individuals like you with a passion for lifestyle change.

Call us at 864 676-1248

Nutrition Solutions

Weight Loss: Recipe For Long-term Success

Losing weight is hard; Keeping it off may even be harder.  For years, the mantra has been, “Eat less and exercise more,” but that has done little in the way of helping people to KEEP the weight off once they’ve lost it.  Two important points I would like to make before we go any further:

1) A healthy weight is not a number on a scale.  When we speak of weight loss, each person will have unique challenges and goals that they set for themselves.  I don’t set weight goals for clients, they do.  And if they set weight goal numbers, we have an understanding that the body composition matters more than the number on the scale.  Health comes in many shapes and sizes.

2) Whenever we speak of weight loss or weight gain, it’s important to understand that obesity is not a disease of willpower, and therefore it’s imperative that people who are affected by obesity are not subjected to stigma and bias. We need to embrace these facts.  We should also move away from talking only about the diet and expand the discussion to include specific strategies for keeping the weight off.  It’s not so much about which diet will work (many diets will work for weight loss in the short term), but instead it’s about which nutrition and exercise habits are sustainable for that individual over time.  There’s too much emphasis placed on diets, and not enough emphasis placed on the person’s lifestyle.  At Nutrition Solutions, we emphasize a personalized approach to weight loss and provide long-term support and education.  Some of the greatest, and yet modifiable factors preventing optimal health are poor nutrition, overeating, inactivity, chronic stress and sleep deprivation and we spend a lot of time working with our clients on these issues.  To sum it up, losing weight requires the right nutrition and exercise plan, along with stress and sleep management techniques and this demands an individualized approach.  There are some universal strategies that work (see NWCR ), but a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work.

The 4 tenets of weight loss success are Nutrition, Exercise, Sleep and Stress Management.  

Nutrition

If you want to lose weight, you must cut calories. This is paramount. To lose body fat a person has to burn more calories (energy) than they are consuming.  I won’t go so far as to say it’s simply a matter of calories in and calories out, but you can’t out exercise a bad diet. Eat more nutrient-dense foods; Eat less high-calorie foods.  Here’s the thing: Eating low calorie does not necessarily mean eating less.  When you adopt a diet that includes plenty of nutrient-dense foods, the volume of food you eat actually increases.  For example, let’s say you want to make a hearty beef chili.  Great.  Just make sure to use lean, and preferably local beef and bulk it up with beans or lentils, tomatoes, onions and whatever other vegetables you can cram in.  Essentially what you have done is create a lower-calorie, and yet completely satisfying meal.  Eat more nutrient-dense, low-energy dense foods.

Exercise

Exercise is EXTREMELY important for health, but in terms of weight management, its role is most important in the weight maintenance phase.  Exercise is wonderful medicine and it’s totally free for anyone to use.  To prevent weight regain, the ACSM recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise per week, but stresses that some individuals may benefit from > 250 minutes a week to prevent weight regain. Exercise helps to prevent muscle loss that can occur with weight loss, which is important since a decrease in muscle tissue would mean a decrease is resting metabolic rate (slowed metabolism).  This is why we do body composition testing for all of our clients.

One overlooked side effect of exercise can be an increase in appetite.  Pay attention to how exercise affects your appetite and your thinking.  Does exercise lead to increased hunger and eating?  Do you find that hard workouts lead to rewarding yourself with food?  Pay close attention to how exercise affects your eating. It’s not uncommon for people to overestimate their calorie burn with exercise.

Sleep

The role of sleep in weight loss is getting more and more attention, and for very good reason.  If a person is not getting enough sleep, they likely won’t have the energy to spare towards meal planning and exercise.  Under stress, they are more likely to succumb to food cues in their environment and tend to crave sugar and high-calorie snacks.  Chronic sleep deprivation impairs your decision-making ability and affects your appetite regulating hormones, (the most famous being ghrelin and leptin).  This means you tend to feel hungrier and remain less satisfied when you do eat.

Stress Management

Chronic stress affects weight both directly and indirectly.  A person under stress rarely has time or energy to think about planning nourishing meals and they certainly don’t have time for exercise. The biological effects of stress creates a strong drive to eat highly processed food-like substances (aka, junk food).  Junk food is cheap, legal and socially accepted as a way to medicate emotions.  If you want to get a handle on your food choices, you’ll first have to identify and eliminate sources of chronic stress in your life.

Losing weight for life requires a complete transformation in all areas of mind, body and soul.  Long-standing habits and behaviors must be challenged and replaced with life-giving behaviors.  People who are successful at losing weight and keeping it off are determined to get at the root of their negative behaviors.  They are persistent and tend to surround themselves with people who are also committed to improving their health.  There’s a special quote from author Steve Maraboli and he says, “if you hang around chickens, you are going to cluck and if you hang out with eagles you’re going to fly.”

Are you a successful loser?  Join the national study at the National Weight Control Registry:  http://nwcr.ws/

Personal Eating Style

Happy Holidays!  It’s that time in the year when everyone is stretched thin in many different areas, but health and wellness initiatives must go on. Undoubtedly, November and December are challenging times for people who are trying to lose weight. Food and folly is everywhere. Stress levels rise. It’s almost as if we’re all under a spell until New Year’s resolutions come and break it. Not all is lost though. This time of year can be a time of deep reflection and self-assessment. Just as trees stop putting out new growth to focus on strengthening their root systems, so too must we bring our focus inward with the intention of identifying our true needs for wholeness–body, soul and spirit.

This week in our groups we discussed how our personal history with food impacts our eating behavior today. Some common family patterns discussed yesterday:

  • “Clean your plate” club which taught us early on that we can’t trust our own feelings as it relates to hunger and satiety
  • Parents over-restricting or placing child on a diet
  • Parents with disordered eating themselves
  • Working parents–child left alone to binge on sugary, high-calorie foods
  • Parents too busy and relying heavily on fast food meals

Above are some of the more common ones, but if this doesn’t describe your situation then keep reading. You cannot change your past, but if you dig deep you will begin to understand what drives your eating habits. A famous proverb reads, “to know where you are going, you have to know where you’ve come from.” We discuss this a lot, but it’s worth repeating:  weight loss isn’t just about reaching a number on the scale.  Many of the people I work with are experts at losing weight–their determination is truly admirable, but keeping the weight off requires an entirely different set of strategies. In fact, it’s almost an entirely different game. Keeping the weight off requires this deep understanding of what drives personal health choices.

What motivates you?

Motivation to change is more complex than simply wanting to do something. When a person says, “I want to lose weight,” I follow up with, “but why?” They may cite reasons such as health or to feel better, and I follow up with “why?”  I’m sure it may seem like a redundant question to the client, but I’m trying to get the person to dig a little deeper because when challenges arise, motivation must come deep from within. Losing weight requires an investment of time and energy and the rewards of changing must outweigh the cost. You must fall in love with the rewards of being healthy and vibrant, otherwise you’ll return to familiar habits, even if they are destructive.

Finally, change is a process and not an event.  The weight loss journey is rarely straightforward and a person will often make many mistakes before it actually clicks for them.  Although each person’s journey is unique, the challenges are universal. Jim Rohn: “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.”

 

Mind Your Meals

If you’ve ever polished off a bag of chips while watching your favorite Netflix show, you’ll be familiar with the practice of mindless eating.  We all do it more than we realize or care to admit.  What you may be less familiar with is the concept of Mindful eating, or more specifically, how Mindful eating can help you plug back in to your internal cues for hunger and satiety.

The body is incredible.  It was designed to notify, or “cue” us to eat when we’re hungry, and cue us to stop eating when we’re full.  It does this through the action of the nervous system and hormone messengers.  Grehlin, for example, is a hormone secreted by the gut and it essentially yells, “hey, I’m hungry!  Feed me now!”  On the other hand, the hormone Leptin is secreted by adipose cells and its role is to whisper, “hey, I’m full now.  Human, you may stop eating.” These are 2 of the more well-known hormone regulators of appetite and I share this with you to help you understanding that minding what you eat is more complex than simply exerting willpower.  Sometimes your intention of mindfully eating only 1 cookie will be overridden by the brains executive decision to binge, since the parts of your brain involved in reward are powerful drivers of your eating behavior.

So what is Mindful Eating?  Mindful eating is the practice (emphasis on the word “practice”) to consciously eat in way that nourishes you.  Mindful Eating means that you focus your attention on the experiences involved with eating, free from any distractions.  Mindful eating means you are fully present while eating. not driving, texting or watching TV.  When you are consciously tuned in and aware, the idea is that you will be able to know when you are full.  The reality, however, is more complex for two reasons:  One, in our modern culture, it’s nearly impossible to be mindful every time we eat or drink (unless you happen to be a Buddhist Monk).  Secondly, mindful eating doesn’t hold up too well when it comes to hyperpalatable foods that are high in sugar.  Appetite regulation was designed to work perfectly for our ancestors, who ate whole, natural foods when food wasn’t always readily available.  In our modern culture, processed food is ubiquitous.  Whereas our ancestors faced periods of feast and famine, our modern lives are shaped by life-long relationships with junk food, in a constant state of feasting.

Modern Mindful Eating
This doesn’t mean we should abandon the practice of Mindful Eating, but we need to acknowledge its limitations.  Mindful eating is an excellent way to free yourself from the guilt and shame involved in eating and dieting.  The practice of Mindful Eating may look different for each person, but what is important is that we each take time to prepare our own meals and slow down when we’re eating.  Get curious about your eating behaviors and pay attention.  Your body is always talking to you.  Are you listening?

Need a nutrition support system? Call us at 864 676-1248 and ask about our programs.

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Try Mindful Eating This Thanksgiving

As a dietitian and personal trainer, I’m acutely aware of the challenges we all face during the holiday season.  If the experts are correct, Americans may gain a few pounds during the months stretching from Halloween to New Year’s Day, and those few pounds will hang around for the following year.  You don’t have to be a mathematician to realize that 2-3 lbs. each year will add up over the years.  Often, insidious weight gain is the norm for many.  Fortunately, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  With the right plan, holiday weight gain can be prevented.

Before we get into diet tips and strategies, let’s talk about mindset, habits, and intentions.  It’s important to know what your intentions and goals are for Thanksgiving, because without this awareness, you’ll lack direction.  Without direction, you won’t have a winning game plan.  Don’t walk into the Thanksgiving week naively assuming you can rely on willpower and motivation alone.  Willpower is limited, and motivation wanes so use your mental resources wisely.  Do you want to avoid overeating? Maintain weight during the holidays?  Stick to 1 dessert?  What is your intention and more importantly why?  Some non-obvious benefits of eating balanced during the holiday season are improved energy and a sense of balance and well-being, which is priceless if you really think about it.  If we’re honest, overeating and over-indulgence ultimately doesn’t feel good.

Rather than looking for magical tips and tricks to avoid weight gain during the holidays, a better approach is to focus on mindful eating strategies and get clear about the pros and cons of adopting healthy habits during this very difficult time.  Recognize cues to eat inappropriately such as stress, lack of sleep, or increased food cues in your environment (well-meaning co-workers who bring you tempting junk food so they don’t have to deal with it).

As for nutritional strategies, that’s actually much more straight-forward.  First of all, you want to avoid sitting down to the holiday meal overly-hungry.  It’s easier to make mindful choices when you’re not dealing with a ravenous appetite.  Secondly, you want to pay attention to portion sizes.  A simple mantra I tell my clients is to focus on “lean and clean protein and vegetables.”  When you fill up your plate with lean protein and vegetables, you will fill up on nutrient-dense foods and naturally “crowd out” some of the more savory, albeit calorie and sugar-laden options.  You can still enjoy some of these foods, but you’ll do so in much less quantities. Other strategies must be personalized to you, but they include:

  • Eating on a salad plate or flimsy paper plate
  • Don’t drink your calories. Try club soda, herbal teas, or unsweetened coffee or tea
  • Enjoy appetizers of crudités, a protein such as shrimp, grilled chicken, or ahi tuna as this will help induce satiety
  • Chew gum after eating!

Behavioral strategies include:

  • Manage stress during the holidays
  • Get 7-8 hours of sleep each night
  • Be active and exercise daily
  • Commit to surrounding yourself with healthy people—peer pressure works!
  • Practice mindfulness in your daily activities, and let this spill over into your eating habits
  • Avoid “all or nothing” mentality. Changing habits is hard—it requires lots of practice

The holiday season is a wonderful time to connect with family, friends, and people in your community.  Try to make the time focused on relationships and experiences, instead of only the food.  With the right intentions and proper planning, you can be sure to have a happy and healthy holiday season.

If you know you need a little help in the cooking department, consider utilizing the chefs at Nutrition Solutions Culinary.  At their Better Bites café located inside the GHS Family YMCA, they can do your catering, or even prepare your individual or family meals.  Visit the website, or call 676-1248.

From all of us at Nutrition Solutions, Happy Holidays!

 

Eat More, Weigh Less

As I often say, losing weight and keeping it off are not necessarily the same thing. Most weight loss programs focus on weight loss without much, or any consideration for maintenance. Keeping the weight off requires a person to sustain health habits for life. Losing weight can be exciting, whereas keeping the weight off can be rather mundane.

Weight maintenance may not be so easy, but it’s also not complex. It requires total commitment to diet, exercise, sleep and stress management. The correct diet for maintenance of a healthy weight (which, by the way is not just a number on a scale) is one that is that is personalized to you. But in general, your diet will be abundant in vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, while also low in processed foods and sugar. Essentially, your diet should consist of a lot of plant foods, sprinkled with lean meats, proteins and seafood, with some good quality fats. Rather than getting hung up on details, for most people it’s better to focus on dietary patterns rather than specific nutrients and diets.

Cutting calories does not need to be boring, and it certainly does not mean depriving yourself of nourishing and delicious foods. By focusing on nutrient-density in meals, it’s possible to eat MORE, but get LESS CALORIES. Many people mistakenly assume that cutting calories equates to eating diet foods and salads, but this is far from the truth. Your diet should be sustainable, nourishing, and pleasing to the palate. Nutrient-dense foods meet all of these criteria.

My criteria for nutrient-dense foods are whole foods that are full of nutrients, while also being low in calories for what they provide. Essentially, nutrient-dense foods give you a better bang for your buck. They contain numerous important nutrients, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and often times phytochemicals or important anti-oxidant compounds. Dietary patterns that meat this criteria are Volumetrics Eating Plan, Mediterranean, and DASH. You can glean from these diets, but experiment with what works for you and have fun.

 

Smart, Savvy Grocery Shopping

How much thought and planning goes into your grocery store experience? Do you stick to a grocery list or do you just “wing” it every time and hope for the best? The good news is that with a little understanding and planning, you can transform your health completely by stocking your kitchen with wholesome, nourishing foods. The opposite is also true; If you stock your kitchen with junk food and give no thought as to what you will eat, your health will suffer.

Let’s talk about confusion for a moment. Think about catchy buzzwords or phrases that grab your attention–  “High protein, low-carb, gluten-free, non-gmo, organic, made with whole grains, 100% natural, immune support.” What do all these terms really mean? Well, not much. They are just words that have been glossed up so you’ll by their product. The first step to becoming a savvy and smart shopper is simply an awareness that your food purchasing decisions are heavily influenced by external factors such as marketing, product placement, consumer trends, etc. Buyer Beware and be on the lookout for marketing ploys. Even the layout, the lighting and the smells at grocery stores may have been manufactured to encourage increased spending on junk food.

The second step involves sticking to a plan, or a shopping list, but how do you determine if a food is healthy or worthy to be in your cart? There are some general rules to follow:

  • Eat food in its mostly natural state. Begin the process of incorporating whole, REAL foods into your diet and phase out “food-like substances.” As a general rule, the majority of your food should have less than 5 ingredients.
  • Forget the packaging and look deeper. Peek at the Nutrition Facts Label and thoroughly read the ingredient list. Are the ingredients substances that you want in your body?
  • Is this food satisfying and nourishing, without being addictive?
  • Is this food high in sugar and salt? Hint: there are over 50 names for sugar. If you struggle with portion control or binge eating, engineered foods with the fat-salt-sugar combo may be nearly impossible to eat mindfully
  • Is this food a good investment for my health? Does it fit within my budget?

There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to meeting your nutrition needs and it’s important to consider your goals, preferences, genetics and lifestyle factors. So although I wholly believe in eating natural, REAL foods, keep this in mind when preparing your nutrition plan and most importantly, seek the support and advice of your registered dietitian or nutrition coach.  He or she can provide advice, as well as offer suggestions on tools and apps that may help with your grocery planning.

Smart Buys for Convenience:

Proteins

  • Chicken, Fish, Shrimp
  • Tuna, Salmon packages/cans
  • Tofu/Tempeh
  • Protein powder of choice
  • Egg whites
  • Eggs
  • Natural Nut Butters/Natural Peanut Butter
  • Protein bar of choice, low in sugar

Starches

  • Canned beans/lentils
  • Frozen Quinoa/Brown Rice
  • Steel Cut Oats
  • squash

Vegetables/Fruits

  • Frozen or Fresh Vegetables
  • Fresh or Frozen Fruit

Dairy

  • Plain, Lowfat yogurt
  • Lowfat dairy or unsweetened Almond or Soymilk
  • Low-fat Cheese Sticks

Miscellaneous

  • Sparkling water, La Croix, Club Soda or Unsweetened Tea
  • Herbs and Seasoning
  • Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or low sodium Tamari
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Nutritional Yeast

When you get home from the grocery store, make sure to set yourself up for success by prepping vegetables, fruits and healthy snacks for easy access. If you have the opportunity, try to attend a grocery shopping tour that’s held on the 3rd Wednesday of every month at 6pm.

Mindful Eating

Reflect on your typical day. Is it filled with stress, tension and emotional eating? It seems there are never enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that needs to be done. Exercise? Planning meals? Fahgettaboudit! There’s barely enough time for sleep, much less planning ahead for quality meals and exercise. If this sounds all too familiar, get out of the rat race and learn a new way of doing life. It’s called Mindfulness. Combine mindfulness with the experience of eating and you have “Mindful Eating,” which is what we talked about in class this week.

Most of us regularly practice mindless eating—eating on the go, skipping meals, eating in front of the TV or computer. We eat while completely disconnected from the experience. In contrast, Mindful Eating is a practice that allows individuals to plug back into their own internal cues for hunger and satiety so that they can understand when to eat and when to stop. With Mindful Eating, there are no good and bad foods, and there is no one right or wrong way to eat. Simply put, mindful eating is eating with intention and attention. Michelle May, MD describes mindful eating as eating with the intention of caring for yourself and eating with the attention necessary for noticing and enjoying your food and its effects on your body. Can you imagine eating in way that supports health, yet is also satisfying and rich? Perhaps you’re among the millions of Americans trapped in a cycle of yo-yo dieting, fueled by guilt and the promise of tomorrow when you’ll get “back on track.” Mindful Eating provides a way out of that vicious dieting cycle by helping you understand the root causes of your unwanted eating habits

What can Mindful Eating do for you?

  • Help reduce overeating/binge eating
  • Lose body fat
  • Help remove negative, automatic food habits (like eating while watching TV)
  • Promote a peaceful eating relationship with food
  • Enjoy food that is satisfying
  • Improve digestion
  • Help change thoughts and behaviors around food. Instead of reacting, you learn how to respond
  • Help reduce anxious thoughts about food

Practicing Mindful Eating can help you plug back into your body’s internal cues so you know when you are hungry and when you are full, but there’s a catch. Most of us have spent years, if not nearly an entire lifetime learning how to ignore those signals. We come from a “clean your plate” club where not finishing everything on your plate might be considered rude, or worse, wasteful. We’ve also spent years eating food-like substances that are high in sugar, salt and chemicals, while simultaneously being low in nutrients. I can’t prove it, but I’m quite sure this combination scrambles the satiety regulating signals to the brain. Mindful Eating may be the cure to heal our relationship with food, but it isn’t magic, and it certainly isn’t a new practice. Mindful Eating requires lots of practice and patience, but it’s worth the effort. If you truly want to improve your eating habits and enjoy vibrant health, I encourage you to find ways to commit to more Mindful Meals.

Here’s some practical ways to get started:

  • Practice being more mindful in all aspects of your life
  • Practice understanding the difference between hunger and craving
  • Simply notice and acknowledge your emotions when you eat. How do you feel? Are you stressed? Sad? Happy?
  • Begin to eat using all your senses, paying attention to sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures
  • Commit to non-judgment. You are not a good person when you eat well, nor are you a bad person when you eat poorly
  • There are no bad or good foods, but engineered food-like substances may be addictive
  • Start small, perhaps with one mindful meal a week
  • Slow down your eating and take 20-30 minutes to finish a meal
  • Use chopsticks
  • Try eating with non-dominant hand
  • Eat until 80% full
  • Practice, and then practice some more

Mindful Eating can change your life, but not overnight. It may take time for you to listen to and trust your inner intuition when it comes to eating. Eating habits begin when we are very young and are quite firmly established by the time we are adults. I encourage you to begin your journey by visiting the following websites http://amihungry.com/ and http://thecenterformindfuleating.org/ Don’t wait. Start practicing today!