Obesity Rates Are Rising

Many people are trying to lose weight. This is no surprise as more than 60% of our population is overweight and obesity has become one of the top health concerns, even surpassing smoking. But unlike smoking, weight gain may not have been 100% personal decision.

big guy weighing himself in the morning and shocked by what he sees

First, food company marketing budgets are huge. Companies spend a lot of money figuring out how to sell their products. Small, local farmers selling non-patented things like vegetables don’t stand a chance in the marketing arena. However, we still have choices, and we need to make good choices about what we eat.

Second, we are busy people. Many have been removed from their food supply for more than a generation and have no idea how or where their food is grown or created. Until recently I had no idea you could make cheesecake in your own kitchen! We’ve been duped by our trusting nature giving away power in our food choices just because it was packaged good, tasted close enough, and was easy. Unfortunately, these choices have allowed us to take in extra calories without expending more – ta-da extra weight.

Third, portion sizes are bigger than ever before. This portion growth happened over time and many have no idea what a good portion size is anymore. This portion distortion causes us to overeat just because it the food is sitting on our plate.

The above reasons aren’t so you can blame big industry, your job, or restaurants for extra weight you carry. Instead look at them as educational tools. Now that you know these problems are contributing – how are you going to change your eating choices?

How To Lose Weight With Healthy Eating

Fresh Fruit

In my last blog posting I talked about some reasons obesity is rising in our country. Although, these are not meant to be excuses for extra pounds it is helpful to understand how we got to this point so we can make better choices now.

Understand that marketing is a business meant to make money both for companies represented and the marketers. When looking at products look beyond packaging – even if it has fruit on the package it doesn’t mean it is really in the food contained within. Pay attention to how the packaging caught your attention – was it a commercial, a reward, a celebrity, a promise? This will give you insight into your own buying behavior and allow you to step back from habitual choices. Become an educated consumer.

Learn how to eye ball portions sizes. Split your meal when it arrives putting anything above a portion in a takeout box. This will allow you to maximize your money and keep your waist line under control. In addition, begin to put extras on the side so you can control how much goes on. For example, salad dressing and condiments can add calories quickly, but if you put them on the side you can dip your fork with each bite for plenty of flavor and a lot less calories in your belly. Blacken, bake, broil, steam, and grill your meats and veggies. Treat yourself to fresh, in season, fruits instead of baked and smothered desserts. Add veggies to your sandwiches and burgers.

Basic portion sizes are: Meats – the size of your palm
Cheese – a pair of dice
1 cupped handful – 1/2 cup
Both cupped hands – 1 cup
8-oz drinks – your fist

Aim for a balanced plate each meal – carbs, protein, and fats. Reduce your meat portion and add an extra veggie or fruit instead. Eat a rainbow of foods with each meal. The more colors on your plate the more nutrients and vitamins you are getting. Try these tips to lose weight with healthy eating.

How to Eat Healthy While On Vacation

Eating healthy may be a challenge at home during your regular routine. So how, you ask, am I suppose to eat healthy while on vacation out of my routines? Its not as hard as you think.

First, be prepared. Plan for your needs. Be the one to bring the raw veggie plate with a healthy dip. Or bring a fresh fruit desert.

Second, eat small portions. I for one love summer BBQs and potlucks but instead of taking heaping spoonfuls of all my favorites I just take a small bite sized portion. I can always have more if I want it but keeping it off my plate usually keeps it out of my mouth.

Third, go whole food. Look for items that are as close to their natural state as possible. The less processing foods have the better for you!

Finally, follow the 80/20 rule. If 80% of your choices are healthy options the other 20 can be less than ideal. The trick is to keep this rule in action consistently over time. So don’t panic if one day is off just remember to make it up the next day.

Healthy eating starts with choices you make every meal. Don’t get discouraged and keep coming back to your goals and habits. If you can make small changes that last a lifetime you are on track to reach your goals. Just remember fitness and health are daily things and keep moving forward!

Vacation Snacks

Its just about summer time and if you are like me you like to travel but don’t always know what to snack on along the way. With some simple guidelines it can be easier to choose healthy and still pick quick. Below is a list of ideas for choosing healthy snack foods when on the go.

Snacking isn’t necessarily a problem. It all depends on what you choose, how often you eat it, and how much you eat. Vacation does not have to equal unhealthy eating. Follow the 80/20 rule on vacation and choose wisely so you’ll feel better and have more energy to enjoy your time away.
Juice – look for 100% juices and less additives. Notice if they have enhanced color, sugar, flavor, sodium, water etc.

Milk, Coffees, Teas, Meal Replacements Drinks – Look for low fat and purer products. Stay away from lots of additives – which includes what you may add yourself – and other unnecessary calories. Flavored Waters – Although a good alternative to plain water for some, check the label. Do the vitamins and minerals outweigh sugar, sodium, artificial flavors, colors, etc. Some brands do, some brands don’t.

Sandwiches, Salads, Burritos, etc – As is the theme – what has been added. Is it something you would’ve have added if you made it yourself? Did they dump in extra sugar, salt, artificial flavors, preserving chemicals, or other stuff you can’t name or don’t want to know what it really is?

Beef Jerky – Again look at portion sizes and additives, but this can be a great low fat high protein choice.

Fruit & Vegetables– Fresh, dried, canned in its own juice, or frozen. You must consider portion sizes and what else has been added. Dried fruit can be sweeter, so be leery if sugar is added.

Pretzels, Trail Mixes, Chips, etc – sometimes its what you crave. Look for 0 trans fats and how they were cooked. Baked are typically more healthy than fried. Also, what is added? Colors, flavors, artificial stuffs, I don’t consider cheese flavor and yellow no. 5 really dairy. So it comes down to knowing what you are choosing and being ok with putting that choice in your mouth.

Nuts, Seeds, Cereal/Energy Bars, etc – Can be great choices or not. Again, what is added, how much is a portion size, what are the benefits (i.e. vitamins, nutrients, minerals of the food choice) and do the benefits outweigh the costs (fat, calories, fillers, sugars, etc) – sometimes the addition of protein, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats are worth it, sometimes a Snickers Bar is a better choice!

Cookies, Candies, Pop, Energy Drinks, Juice Type Drinks, Donuts, etc – Bottom line on these – do the benefits of eating outweigh the costs. Rarely, but if its your last resort try and make better choices – i.e. peanut/almond M&Ms rather than plain or the donut without all the extra filling, frosting, sprinkles, and choose the drink with less calories and sugars.

80/20 rule means 80% of the time you eat healthy and get daily exercise. 20% of the time do you chuck those habits out the window in favor of less healthy eating or activities. This is a quick way to reference your behavior and create a healthy lifestyle.

I am not a nutritionist. If you are looking for specific information or have a condition, take medication, or need more than a general overview you should see a registered dietitian or nutritionist.

Food is Just Fuel

Do you have trouble deciding how to feel about food? Do you wonder if you should be adding or eliminating a food group based on the most recent diet craze? Help your relationship with food by reframing how you think about it. Food is just fuel…

Let’s talk about fat. Its not an evil three letter word as some may think, its really just about fuel. I like this analogy:
You live next to a gas station, right next door. Every day you back out of your garage and drive your car the long way to the station (around the block), fill up the tank, drive the long way home and put the car back in the garage. What happens? You haven’t driven far enough to refuel each day and your gas tank would overflow, right?

What’s so different about that and the way you may be eating? Food is fuel. Overeating and under working cause your body to overflow. Unlike a car, your body places excess fuel in storage as fat. Now the really cool part: Carbs have been on the bad list for awhile, but finally starting to get out of the doghouse, yea, Carbs are your bodies first choice for energy because they are easily accessible and they burn fast. Protein is next, but it takes longer to convert, and finally fat comes on board. Wanna know why? Because your body is smart. Very smart. Instead of storing everything as the macro nutrient it originally was, it stores it as fat because fat gives us more bang for our buck. When we convert these fuel sources we are turning calories into energy and fat gives us more than twice the amount protein and carbs do per gram.

So when you consume more calories than you burn your body says, “hmmm, I don’t need these now, but maybe I will soon, so I’ll save them.” Just like a little kid with candy, your body puts the extra in its pocket., however unlike the child, your body doesn’t use it until it is needed. Absolutely amazing!