“How to Eat” according to a non-expert

Oh Goood Mooorning!!  I didn’t even wake up to my alarm- slept right through it and woke up to little b calling for Mama instead.  What a sweet wake up call:)    I guess my body needs some rest today!  So I’ll write instead;)

Someone asked me to write a post on “how much to eat and what to eat.”  I have been mulling this over in my head as:

1. I am not a dietitian.  I have my BS in Wellness/Health Science, and a whopping one semester of my MS Nutrition.  At that time, I just didn’t want to persue it; I was a lost little peanut.  Maybe someday I’ll finish.  But right now, I know my stuff because I keep up on research myself and because I live it.

2. It’s individual.  I don’t have any calculations to give you about how much of this and that- it all depends on you.  How much you work out, how you eat or what you like, your goals, your time, etc.  I only know facts and what works for me.

So, I thought, how can I even generalize this?  Well, I figured I could just state some of those facts mixed with opinions and see where that gets us.  So without further adieu…

The Veggie Gang!

Here’s the thing about me.  I’m super type A, and I like schedules.  No, I live by them- I have a list for everything.  Alright, I’m OCD, I GET IT!  Therefore, it’s very easy for me to eat healthy and the exact same thing every day.  Yes, every single day, and No, I’m not bored with it ever. It makes grocery shopping a cinch.  The only thing I really switch up is dinner so we can eat as a family.  And believe me, that took some time for me to adjust to.

But for the average person, that’s just not easy, and I get it.  Some people (normal people like my husband and son) need variety.  So here’s the bottom line, the bare naked facts (and it’s shocking):

To lose weight you need to burn more calories than you eat.  To maintain, you even out.  To gain you have to eat more than you burn.  Simple math, really.

3500 calories equals one pound.  It seems like a TON of calories, but just that much extra consumed in ONE WEEK will cause a weight gain of a pound a week.  Very easy to do.  However, take in just a few hundred calories less a day, and BAM, there goes a pound a week.  Maybe drop the soda and add a walk as your first step.  Increase from there.

Calories in, Calories out.  Simple.

So there you are with how calories work in simple terms.  Now how to eat those calories is another important factor.  Your body and how it looks is about 80% of what you eat- just 20% of your exercise.  You can do crunches and cardio all day long, but if you’re eating  junk and sugar, your body is not going to change.  Or at least, it’s going to take a looong time.  Alert: fruit is high in sugar and carbs convert to sugar- so moderation is key!  As an ice cream addict, I learned the hard way.  I was 10 pounds heavier than I am now when I ran my first marathon- because I “needed to eat tons of carbs and I burned so many calories I could eat ANYTHING, right?!”  Not so much. 

Good calories in, Burn calories Out.

If you eat good for you food in moderation and keep that body moving, you WILL see your body change.  It gets that metabolism going, which helps you burn calories all day long!

My BIGGEST pet peave in all the land is not eating or skipping meals.  Your metabolism slows to nothing!  So when you do eat again, you burn those calories incredibly slow because your body missed them.  It wants to hold on to every single piece of food you just ate (ahem, FAT), because it thinks- “YES FOOD!!  When am I going to get THIS again?”  There you go, weight back on plus some!  Just eat!

Finally, as for WHAT to eat?  Just balance everything. I eat mainly a veggie-based diet and I pepper in everything else.  Or more accurately, a non-processed diet. I rarely eat out, and I never eat fast food or drink soda. 

I realize that we all like different things and we all live differently.  But we can all find the time to make healthy living a priority if we want to.  Just start small, don’t overwhelm yourself or you’ll quit altogether.  If you already eat well, then work on gradually adding in exercise. 

For a first step: Buy local when you can.  Look at labels and only consume foods with ingredients you can pronounce.  Really think about everything you are putting into your body- it matters for your future.

When we overthink how or what we’re eating (like going on a “diet”), that’s when we tend to struggle and stop.  How many calories was that?  Was that bad?  I ate one, I might as well eat the whole batch.  Ugh, I’m a glutton.  Honestly, I don’t even think about calories at all.  I’m not going to list what “healthy” food is- you know.  It’s home-made meals (yes, you have to cook to not eat processed, and yes, everyone can do it).  Also, yes, it’s sometimes boring and time consuming.  You can make it fun and creative.  Or make everything on a lazy Sunday for the week, plan your meals- whatever makes it convenient for your situation.  And if it’s not hammered in your head yet, moderation!!  Instead of that TV show, go out for a walk with your family.  Little changes.

On a personal level, a dietitian could absolutely help you with a diet plan.  A personal trainer can help you with a fitness plan.  But if you’re like me, and can be self-motivated and don’t have money to spend- just listen to the health fairy inside of you.

If you’re a visual person, I love this little plate.  It sums it all up and gives good examples (except I prefer whole grains like quinoa, spelt, oatmeal, and flaxeed):

 And here is a look at one serving size (did I mention moderation yet?):

One of my favorite books is called “The Blue Zones” by Dan Buettner about the people in the world who live the longest.  The summary?  Healthy eaters, exercise, meditation (also, friends, family, travel, and wine;)).  Go here: http://www.bluezones.com/live-longer/power-9/  Then, give it a read; it’s inspiring.  This is the pyramid he says attributes to longevity and health:

I know this is kind of all scattered, because my opinions in my brain are like that- welcome inside! I just see so much of this “lose weight quick fixes” and frustrated diet followers or I hear “I can’t get rid of this belly” when all we really have to do is eat right, exercise, and enjoy life.  The rest will come.

Always remember it’s a lifestyle, and there’s no quick fix.  It takes time and effort forever.  It really does become easier and a habit with time.  I’m pretty sure it’s proven that healthy=happy.  If not, well then take it from me.

I hope this helps.  Or, at the very least, was a fun Thursday read:)

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