Eat early; eat often; eat less. Your metabolism drops while you sleep, and it will stay there unless you eat first thing in the morning. If you eat smaller portions every 3-4 hours, not only will you not be hungry, you will burn fat more efficiently. If you eat only 1 or 2 big meals per day, your body thinks there’s a famine and goes into storage mode (fat production). Eat for 3 small meals and 3 smaller snacks each day. Once your body knows that more food is coming in a few hours, it learns to trust you, and burn, not store the energy as fat.
Choose differently Eat more salmon and mackerel. Limit shellfish and catfish, and eat only 2 egg yolks per week. Limit red meat to only a few times per week; choose smaller portions (4-6 ounces,) and lower fat cuts. Meat from grass-fed animals, without added hormones, or antibiotics may be more healthful than traditional commercial types. This may be more expensive, but since you’re eating less, things will probably even out. You might even save a few pennies.
Cook differently. Don’t fry; bake, broil, crockpot, or grill (without charcoal, which may encourage the growth of cancer cells.) Take the skin off chicken and turkey, and remove all visible fat from meat before you cook.
Be adventurous. Many of us grew up eating cabbage, string beans, and broccoli, but did you ever hear of jicama, and romanescue? We ate bananas, oranges, and apples, but what about ugli fruit? Branch out. A wider variety of foods avoids meal plan boredom.
Fire up the flavor; GO GLOBAL! Explore other cultures to experience the power of herbs, spices, and low-sodium marinades. The Teaching Company (www.thegreatcourses.com) offers an excellent course, “The Everyday Gourmet: Essential Secrets of Spices in Cooking.” Make every bite count!
Shop and store food differently. Avoid impulse buying. Don’t shop when you’re hungry; make a list and stick to it. Local grocery stores may not carry interesting vegetable and fruit options, or international spices. They may not stock food choices grown without hormones, pesticides and antibiotics. It may be difficult to find meat and poultry raised eating what they would eat in nature instead of feed designed to make them grow large quickly, have a different texture, or appearance. Again, these options may be more expensive, but smaller portions protect your budget.
Control cost; make it a team sport. If finances are a problem, gather your friends for a monthly road trip to a specialty store. Buy in bulk, split the portions, and chip in on a machine that vacuum-packs food to prolong its freshness. Pass over cheap machines that lose power quickly. Expect to spend about $150. plus the cost of bags. Gallon bags seem cost-effective, but I always ended up preparing larger portions, and either overeating, or wasting food (Remembering my grandmother’s voice about starving children around the world, I often overate anyway.) Now, I use quart sized bags to freeze single servings.
REMEMBER, your body is an engine and food is JUST energy, like coal, gas, or wood. It is NOT love, comfort, courage, or anything else. Eating for comfort, or stress management just makes us heavy AND lonely, uncomfortable, or scared! When the situation doesn’t change, we eat more, feel guilty and disgusted with ourselves, which leads to more comfort eating, more disgust, and more eating in a downward spiral. Behavioral health counselors can help you stop this cycle, clarify your relationship with food, and take control of your weight.
NEXT WEEK GET A MOVE ON! Finding the right exercise program.