Tag Archives: Don’t Starve Yourself

Learning to Eat Healthy

Forgive me for digressing a bit from this series.  My recent episode with the heat and loss of my air conditioner for several days reminded me of the challenges of continuing to eat healthy when it is incredibly hot. Because of that I wanted to share a few of my favorite hot-weather recipes.

Today I am back on track with ideas and information that can help you focus on a healthier lifestyle, learning to eat healthy all the time, and feeding your family well – or at least focusing on making changes that will help you reach those goals eventually.

One of the most difficult parts of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and learning to eat healthy is knowing how to choose the right foods – and doing so, over the long-haul.

What we eat is probably THE MOST IMPORTANT factor in building and sustaining good health and a general sense of well-being. Because of that, it is worth taking the time to learn about nutrition and how to make wise food choices. Coming up with fast and healthy meal ideas becomes easier with time and practice.

The key to creating nutritious and simple meals and snacks is understanding the kinds of foods you should eat and learning how to balance those foods in your diet. To develop this understanding, you must first be aware of where most people go wrong in their diet choices.

There are so many ways to stray off the “good nutrition” path that I could probably write a book on that topic alone; but for today, let’s look at the easiest way to stray – which is: allowing yourself to get extremely hungry. The hungrier you are, the less likely you are to make good choices of the foods you eat.

Don’t fall into that trap. Far too often, people worried about weight control make the mistake of trying “not to eat” breakfast and sometimes lunch. As a result, they end up ravenous and stuffing themselves later in the day with anything that is available – typically unhealthy foods.

Image by Syda Productions
Image by Syda Productions

We have talked about this before, but I just want to emphasize a few points before we move on.

The best approach to eating healthy throughout the day and living a healthy lifestyle is to start the day with a good breakfast. Then, pack (or plan) two healthy snacks (one for the a.m. and one for the pm.), plus a healthy lunch.  If you can be diligent in following those steps, your eating habits and your health will begin to improve dramatically. (Note: the links will take you to earlier articles on those subjects.)

Which brings us to the next point – the easiest place to start eating healthy is with your snack choices.  This requires two critical steps:

  • Get rid of all the unhealthy snacks in your kitchen (that includes the fridge and pantry – or any other place you may be stashing them).
  • Keep ONLY good snacking options in your home.

In other words, throw away (or give away) the potato chips, cookies, protein bars, sweetened yogurt, and prepackaged snacks of any kind. Then, stock your shelves and your fridge with fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

When you are hungry, it is much healthier to reach for a handful of raw nuts than a handful of potato chips. Nuts are filled with nutrients and also quell your sweet cravings. Fruits, vegetables, and nuts should also be incorporated into your meals, so having them on hand serves a dual purpose.

The best part is – the foods you can see easily and reach quickly are the foods you tend to eat, which makes having good food around the quickest way to begin forming new and better eating habits.  When your kitchen is well-stocked with healthy foods, packing your two snacks and a healthy lunch is easy.  Make a commitment to this simple change and begin NOW!

On Monday, we will be discussing – planning healthy dinners. Be sure to join us.

Fast Weight Loss Is Dangerous and Short-Lived

If you are carrying around a few extra pounds or many extra pounds, having the goal to lose weight is a good thing. Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is vitally important to good health and living a long life. Unfortunately, many people get caught up in losing weight as fast as possible.

Start Diet Today (Scales)
Image by Alan Cleaver

If you have been thinking along those lines, you have probably seen and even considered the ads that make promises like, “Lose 10 Pounds in 10 Days.”  That sounds great and may even be possible, but the repercussions from that kind of weight loss are not good.

I can understand wanting to lose weight quickly, but it is much smarter to be realistic about how many pounds you can lose within a certain time frame and stay healthy. The general rule for losing weight safely is to no more than 2 pounds per week.

There are methods that will help you to lose quite a bit more than that – especially during the first two weeks of the diet; but . . . I do not recommend them and I am confident that your doctor would tell you the same thing.

ALWAYS talk to your doctor before you start any diet – and listen to him/her.

I am fairly certain that what I just told about 2 lbs/week being a safe weight loss number is fairly common knowledge. In fact, you have probably heard it many times; so, why would you or anyone think that losing more than two pounds per week is a good idea?

Let’s assume that for some reason your doctor says it is OK to go on such an extreme diet. In fact, he tells you that the more you can lose right away, the better. Maybe his reasoning is that you will see dramatic results and start feeling better right away; and those two factors will be great motivators and will help you stick to your diet and exercise plan.

I doubt very much that is going to happen, but let’s say it does – it is not a long-lasting solution! The weight loss is essentially temporary and this is one of the reasons:

  • A large portion of your initial weight loss will be water weight. As we all learned in one of our early science classes, the human body is mostly water. Because of that, you can delude yourself into thinking that you have lost weight simply by dehydrating yourself, which you should NEVER do. Besides being dangerous, you will gain all of it back as soon as you start drinking water again. It is possible that technically you could get away with it, but it is not a long-lasting solution.
  • The weight you lose through extreme, fast diets almost always comes back, plus some extra.

Now, having made those points, there is one specific healthy strategy that will help you drop a few pounds rather quickly.

  1. Stop drinking sugar-loaded beverages (Coke, Mountain Dew, Big Gulp, Monster Drinks, etc.). Those beverages are essentially sugar water, coloring, caffeine and additives – loaded with empty calories.
  • Coke 12 oz can                                          140 calories
  • Coke 20 oz Bottle                                     240 calories
  • Coke 1 Liter Bottle                                   400 calories
  • 7-Eleven 32 oz Big Gulp Coke               364 calories
  • 7-Eleven 44 oz Super Gulp Coke          512 calories
  • 7-Eleven 52 oz Xtreme Gulp Coke       585 calories

Losing Weight Is Quite Simple – but Is Not Necessarily Easy

In order to lose weight, you must eat 3,500 fewer calories than you need per week to lose one pound. You can either eat fewer calories; or burn them off through exercise.

Let’s look at it this way:

Eliminate 500 calories/day = 3,500 fewer calories/week = one pound lost.

So, if you want to lose five pounds in one week, all you have to do is cut your caloric intake by 2,500 calories/day for a full week!

Eliminate 2,500 calories/day = 17,500 less calories/week = 5 pounds lost.

It sounds gruesome and dangerous to me.  You must eat enough calories to sustain your body, so to cut 2,500 calories per day from you diet would be extreme. It would also be difficult to burn off that many calories (or even a portion of the number) through exercise, even if you are in good physical condition (which is not the case with most overweight people.)

For example: A 160 pound person has to jog at 5 MPH for 60 minutes to burn a measly 584 calories. Walking at 2 MPH for an hour only burns 180 calories. See what I mean? Not realistic!

The reality is that trying to lose weight fast it is not only detrimental to your health, it is very difficult.  The only way to lose weight at a healthy pace is through a diet of healthy foods and a steady regimen of exercise. It is not necessarily easy, and will undoubtedly take far more time than you want it to; but it is worth it, once the pounds start coming off and staying off.