Do you know your body's enemies?
If weight gain is one of them, then it's useful to know exactly how it can get the better of you.
Here's how: Our meal portions are too typically loaded with insulin-spiking processed carbohydrates. And we're conditioned to eat far too many of them.
But why exactly do we indulge too much?
Simply stated, we live in a food-obsessed culture. For instance, in any built-up urban area, there's usually a variety of restaurants and fast food outlets everywhere you look.
In such a competitive marketplace, they're all vying for our attention by luring us with bigger and bigger portions of food. Yet much of it is loaded with salt, fat and sugar which is meant to over-stimulate our appetites.
We need to pay closer attention to what's on our plate in terms of both quality and quantity.
Invariably it's all very tempting food, too. And it sells better when a much greater emphasis is placed on taste and presentation than on health and nutrition.
Even at home, too many of us simply prepare packaged supermarket meals that emulate the same formula for overeating. The end result is that all the surplus calories we consume are converted into fat. And it's fat that usually becomes flab around our waists.
Wise up: eat healthily and in moderation
To remedy this unhealthy imbalance, we need to pay closer attention to what's on our plate in terms of both quality and quantity.
Starting with quality, I'm referring to a meal that's nutritionally balanced, i.e. one that is high in protein and complex carbohydrates (think vegetables) but is relatively low in both fats and starchy carbohydrates (think potatoes, bread, white rice, pasta, fries etc.).
As to quantity, we should eat only as much as is necessary to meet our energy and nutritional needs. And if you exercise regularly, consider doing the following with each plate of food: Eat portions of at least five to 10 ounces of lean animal protein or up to half a plate of vegetarian protein (including dairy products).
Also, try to get used to starchy carbohydrate portion sizes that are about 25 per cent less than you're probably used to. As for vegetables, consume as much as you want at each sitting.
All told, you can still enjoy delicious restaurant food.
The exception to this rule is a post-workout meal. That's when larger portions of each food group will ensure that your nutrient-depleted muscles are adequately nourished.
As an aside, if you're concerned that you may have a tendency to over-eat, especially gluten-based carbohydrates, then here's some useful advice: Because it takes around 20 minutes for our brains to register that we've had enough to eat, try not to wolf down your food in a hurry.
Instead, eat mindfully by thoroughly chewing and savoring every mouthful, which will improve your absorption of nutrients and help prevent indigestion. This should also help make dining a leisurely and pleasant experience.
Also, skip the bread rolls before your dinner, especially if they're made of insulin-spiking white bread.
Additionally, try not to guzzle down lots of soft drinks with your meal. Besides all the unnecessary empty calories, any more than about eight ounces of fluids with your meal can dilute your stomach acid content. Which can make it harder for your body to assimilate and digest all of the nutrients that you're consuming.
All told, you can still enjoy delicious restaurant food. Just choose your entrees wisely and try not to over-indulge, especially starchy carbohydrates. Focus the most on eating all the protein and complex carbohydrates on your plate.
This is a recipe for healthy dining and for getting lean and staying that way. It may take a while to become a habit. But when it does, you may be surprised by how easy it is to get your fill without finishing off everything on your plate.
Good luck and bon appétit!
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I've noticed that if I don't eat substantial meals that include fiber-packed carbs, low-fat protein and healthy fats, I usually encounter crazy cravings later. Now I make sure that all of my meals and snacks include a combination of all three. More from Health.com: 9 Summer Diet Tips to Stick to in the Fall 9 Easy Ways to Sneak in More Exercise 25 Ways to Cut 500 Calories a Day
Cookies, chocolate and cereal are foods that give me trouble when it comes to portion size. Instead of keeping my favorite foods in the house, I purchase them only once in a while. I love peanut butter chips, but I buy them only every other month or so because I know I will finish off the bag in less than a week. Every now and then it's okay to splurge, but I don't let myself have these treats in the house on a regular basis. When it comes to cereal, I buy mostly "healthy" cereal that I tend not to overdo it with. Kashi is one thing; Frosted Mini-Wheats are another!
In the afternoon, especially right after lunch, I always feel hungry. But much of the time, my hunger pangs are satisfied with a big swig of water or a hot mug of tea. A little hydration goes a long way when it comes to dealing with emotional eating.
If I just ate a meal or a snack, I will try to wait at least 20 minutes before I eat something else. When I wait, I put a buffer between myself and the food, which helps make the temptation go away -- at least most of the time!
A single slipup isn't going to cause a huge gain in pounds. If I do overdo it, I don't let it become an excuse to continue to eat poorly, though. I don't get down on myself, and I make sure to get back on track the very next time I eat.
Especially, when it comes to baking, I don't let myself taste my treats until it's time to do so. If I bake muffins for breakfast the night before, I don't allow myself to have one until the next morning. Same goes for cookies or blondies -- I wait until dessert time. Otherwise, I'll start eating them and not stop. If I pick a specific time to enjoy a muffin or cookie, I savor it during that set period and cut myself off after that. More from Health.com: 9 Summer Diet Tips to Stick to in the Fall 9 Easy Ways to Sneak in More Exercise 25 Ways to Cut 500 Calories a Day
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