Calling all health conscious individuals: Please join me and I will give you helpful tips and tricks that have helped me and in turn, will help you; to increase the calories that your body burns naturally, ways to obtain additional nutrients from existing foods, foods that help combat belly fat, the combination of foods that we should be eating and how to boost our metabolisms. In North America we are number one in our obesity rates. The United States is at the top of the list. It has become an epidemic and there are ensuing health concerns, directly related to our weight and our lifestyles.
You might ask “Why listen to her? I’ve heard all of this before.” The response is that I’m not a personal trainer/gym bunny who has never struggled with their weight. Look at my pictures! I’ve been there and understand first-hand how difficult it is to lose weight, stay motivated and keep it off! I realize that after being overweight, the body has a greater propensity to gain weight and it becomes even more difficult to lose.
Weight loss and healthy eating are important elements in our lives. As we get older, it becomes increasingly more difficult to shed those extra pounds. Many of us think that we are eating healthy, but when it really comes down to it, we are not.
1. Portion Distortion
One of the biggest problems is what I like to call "portion distortion". When we go to a restaurant, or even at home, the size of the portion that we are given is usually enormous. We often end up eating the entire portion, simply because it is put in front of us. I know I am guilty of eating more than I actually need, simply because it tastes good.
In a restaurant, I usually portion the food before I begin to eat. I simply ask for another plate; I portion what I “should” eat and set the remainder of the food on the extra plate before I even start to eat. In the beginning, on occasion, I even asked for a take-out container; I placed the extra food “out of sight and out of mind”, right from the start. At home, I start out by placing a small amount on my plate. Another tip I’ve found VERY helpful, is to use a small plate, rather than a large plate. This allows us to still fill the plate, however reduces our intake. After you have finished eating, wait for 30 minutes; if you are still hungry, and only IF, then return for a second helping. You will allow your body the time to feel full and in turn, eat less.
2. Eat Slowly and Chew Thoroughly
When you were a kid and your mom told you to “eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly”, she was right! We need to allow our stomachs time to send the message to our brains that we are full. The more we chew our food prior to swallowing, the more it is already broken down and the easier it is for our stomachs to digest. Also, when we chew our food, the body naturally begins to anticipate burning calories, stimulates our stomachs and the process of digestion. If we wolf down our food quickly, without chewing, or hardly chewing, then we do not enable that process to take place.
3. Avoid Grazing
One of the biggest obstacles to overcome is only eating when we are hungry and ceasing to continue, once that hunger has been satiated. We eat for a variety of reasons; I know I have been guilty of all of the reasons listed below. Sound familiar? One of the worst is not paying attention to what we are eating, while watching television. When we do this, we simply shovel it in, rather than being conscious of what we are ingesting. If I’m going to snack in front of the t.v., I put a small portion in a bowl and avoid eating out of the bag. Other common offenders are boredom, emotional eating, snacking or what I call grazing; which consists of both sampling/eating during meal preparation, or in front of the fridge, while deciding what to eat. I can’t count how many times I’ve grazed/nibbled and have ended up eating as much as I would have for dinner, prior to even sitting down to eat. Something that I’ve found really helpful is to chew gum during meal preparation. I’ve found that having the taste of minty gum in my mouth with whatever food I’m cooking, don’t mix well, which helps to keep me on track.
4. Eat 5-6 Times/Day
Many of us tend to eat like a snake, giving our body one large meal throughout the day. This meal is usually dinner; later in the day, when we are incapable of burning those calories. All of our blood and energy goes to our stomachs, in an effort to try and break down/digest that food. It overloads our stomachs/metabolisms and actually makes us sluggish. It is too much for our metabolisms to handle at once. Since our bodies are unsure of when they are next going to be fed, they go into starvation mode; our bodies do this in self defense, wherein our bodies actually store the food, rather than burning it off. The lesson to learn here is, we are not snakes, nor can we eat as such. One of the biggest fears is that we’ll be forced to eat a lot less. I have actually found the opposite to be true. Since our metabolisms increase, we burn more calories, while eating the same quantity.
The best way to eat is to feed ourselves only when we are hungry; however most importantly, to stop eating when we are no longer hungry, rather than when we are full.
5. Hunger = Eat
We need to keep our metabolisms functioning at an optimum level; this means small meals to satiate our hunger throughout the course of the day. One of these small meals should consist of fresh fruit at least once a day. It is VERY important to eat when hunger strikes, since not eating can actually have a negative impact on our metabolisms and digestion. We need to eat just enough to stave off our hunger for the moment and keep feeding it as required. Think of your stomach like the gas tank in your first car, or your parents’ car, before you had money to fill the entire tank. When the tank was empty, we would put in $5 or so, to make it to the next destination and subsequent paycheque. That is how we must also fuel our bodies.
Focus on sources of lean protein, (such as fish, poultry, eggs), leafy greens (such as spinach, broccoli, kale), legumes (lentils, chickpeas, black beans, red kidney beans, etc.) and berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries).
6. NEVER Skip Breakfast
Many of us do not eat breakfast. We believe that a cup of coffee/tea/juice will suffice. That is the biggest mistake that we can make! We’ve heard it before and let me say it again: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”!!! If we fail to eat breakfast, our metabolism begins at a significantly reduced rate. People who eat breakfast burn more calories and actually eat more on a daily basis with out gaining weight.
7. Always Eat Protein For Breakfast
When eating breakfast, do not choose a bagel (equivalent to six slice of bread), toast, cereal or some other starchy carbohydrate. Eating a source of lean protein for breakfast is the most important way to start our day. Protein stimulates our systems and kick starts our metabolisms. Protein will help you feel full longer, which will keep you from snacking on sugary or starchy goodies. After sleeping all night, it is essential to recuperate what the body has lost.
Let’s Recap What We’ve Discussed:
1. Avoid “portion distortion”. Use a small plate. Start small, wait 30 minutes and then go back for more IF, and only if you’re still hungry.
2. Eat slowly and chew food thoroughly.
3. Only eat when hunger strikes. No eating in front of the T.V., grazing or sampling during food preparation. Chew gum. Don’t eat out of boredom.
4. Don’t eat like a snake. Eat small amounts/snacks 5-6 times a day.
5. When hunger strikes, eat; don’t go hungry! Fuel the gas tank with $5 at a time.
6. Always eat breakfast to kick start the metabolism.
7. Breakfast should be a source of lean protein, such as whey/soy protein, eggs, etc.
Please stay tuned for more tips and tricks to boost your metabolism and live healthy!
“Little changes can make a BIG difference”!
I am living proof; become living proof too. If I can do it, so can you!
Kelli Irwin-Scott is a Certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, Reiki Master Teacher, Huna Initiate, Fascial Release Facilitator & Blogger.