Information to Help Dieters Stay Healthy, Strong, and Content
Healthy Food Pyramid
Three Main Tools to Use When Dieting
I love to cook and eat--one of my favorite things to do is cook an elaborate meal or fancy dessert for loved ones. Unfortunately, loving food as I do has often resulted in weight gain, especially now that I am middle-aged and my metabolism has slowed. Losing excess weight is more important than ever as I try to maintain optimum health despite growing older. I have found many wonderful tricks in my battle to regain and maintain an ideal weight for life, some of which I will share here. One key point to remember when dieting is that food is one's friend, not the enemy. Another excellent strategy is to eat regular, frequent, small meals for increased energy and health as well as pleasure. Finally, of utmost importance are the nutritional value, energy producing power, and great taste of natural food, in contrast to processed junk food. Utilizing those three main points has helped me take control of my diet.
Choose Fresh Fruit to Satisfy a Sweet Tooth
Dried Fruit and Nuts: A Healthy Snack
Tool #1: Food Is Your Friend
Dieters often fear food. However, food is not the enemy. That creme horn or pizza slice didn't jump into my mouth--food can not make a person eat it. I can be my own enemy--my ignorance is to blame if I eat in a way that hurts my health. Food is crucial to life; eating nutrient rich, natural food helps one remain healthy and have energy to live a full life. Food can even be medicine, helping one regain health when sick (think chicken soup, orange juice, herb tea, fresh green salad--those foods and many more have wonderful medicinal properties).
Even for those who are not sick, eating well is absolutely necessary if one is to maintain health. The science of nutrition explains in great detail how vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, and all the other essential qualities of good natural food interact with our bodies, creating energy, growth, and health. When dieting, one might be tempted to hate food or try to eat as little as possible, thinking that by eliminating food, one will lose weight. In fact, although fasting can be therapeutic and is often used for spiritual purposes, in general, it's better to eat well and regularly. By doing so, one can gradually normalize his/her weight while maintaining strength, body tone, and a balanced quality of life. Starving oneself makes one weak and affects one's mind and emotions negatively, as well. It makes the skin dry, decreases muscle and skin tone, and damages internal organs. It weakens a person and leads to anorexia and illness, even death. Do not starve yourself, please! Instead, try eating regular small meals of natural healthy food, and notice yourself losing weight gradually and fairly painlessly, while maintaining energy and health.
Stock Up Your Kitchen to Cook for Healthy Eating
Tool #2: Eating Smaller, Frequent Meals Increases Energy, Health, and Enjoyment
Our lives are often hectic, running around for eight hours or more without a break most days, without pausing to breathe, let alone eat healthily. Even children are often over-scheduled these days. Senior citizens often have the opposite problem; with too much time on their hands and no work pressures, making it easy for them to forget to keep a regular meal schedule. Sadly, also, for so many people, regular meals with family have become a rare treat instead of the norm. Dieters often try to push themselves to abstain from food by skipping meals. These are just some of the reasons why eating regularly is foreign to our modern lifestyle.
However, the body functions well and metabolism runs high when we eat regularly, every two to three hours when awake. Meals should be moderate to small, too, which helps the stomach shrink and remain flat. Eating a huge meal twice or three times a day overtaxes the digestion and heart, and going more than three hours between meals puts the body into hunger/starvation mode, which slows metabolism to deal with the absence of food. It's better to keep a slow burn consistently, by eating regularly every two to three hours. This can be achieved by eating three meals and three snacks, all around 300-400 calories. I learned to eat this way by reading Tosca Reno's 2007 book,The Eat-Clean Diet (Robert Kennedy Publishing) and trying to practice what she presents there. Eating small meals and snacks of natural food allows one to feel hunger but then satisfy it, keeping metabolism stable and energy high. Because each meal or snack is moderate sized, one's digestion is not overwhelmed, allowing one to enjoy every nuance of the healthy, delicious food one eats. Try it yourself; you will feel the difference!
Mareya Ibrahim, the Fit Foodie
Tool #3: Natural Food Beats Processed and Junk Food
Natural food, organic when possible, is the best choice for creating and maintaining health. Processed, artificial, "junk" food has lost health-creating nutrients and contains toxic non-foods like artificial colors and flavors, fillers, and preservatives. However, our modern world is filled with processed and artificial food, and often people are ignorant of, or choose to reject, the truth about natural food's value. The food industry offers processed food to extend shelf life and increase profits, but what's lost is the delicious and healthy natural food our bodies need.
Compare homemade whole grain sprouted toast spread with organic honey and natural butter with a packaged toaster pastry. Compare an organic chicken, herb stuffed and oven roasted, with a pack of chicken nuggets from the local fast food joint. Compare a slice of homemade carrot cake, made with freshly grated carrots, butter, honey, walnuts, golden raisins and cream cheese/honey frosting with a Twinkie. Can you see my point yet? It gets easier quickly, once one liberates one's palate from refined sugar like candy, heavy greasy foods like fast food fries, and empty, fluffy, mass market white breads. An added benefit is that eating natural, unprocessed whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables immediately increases one's fiber intake, making regularity less of a problem.
Eating natural, whole foods (unprocessed food without additives) and choosing organic food when possible means that every bite you eat makes you healthier and stronger. Learning to cook and cooking and eating at home regularly, as well as carrying your meals with you during the day in a portable cooler, keeping healthy food at your workplace, and choosing natural, healthy food when eating out are all strategies to stay on track eating healthily. Bon appetit !