Sunday, October 30, 2022

Health & Fitness: Lesson 6 - How to eat healthier food

We've covered part of the solution already. To recap, by now that you have articulated your vision, and clarified why you want to achieve that vision.  You've also researched other people's transformations and convinced yourself that your vision is not only achievable by others but is achievable by you. You've also measured your starting weight and so know how much work lies ahead of you. And you have  a better understanding of the different elements you can play with you achieve your goals. 

So let's dive a little deeper into the most important element: diet.

In an earlier post, I shared that controlling your weight is 70% diet, 20% exercise, and 10% rest. I also shared that what you eat and how much you eat are the most important aspects under diet, and they are related.

You need to thoroughly examine your current diet that has resulted in your current weight and body shape. To get different outcomes, you have to change your inputs. You do this by changing what you eat, changing how much of it you eat, or both. 

Although you may already know this, it bears repeating because you may know it but are you practicing it properly and consistently?

Eat healthier food 

Entire book chapters have been written about what foods are healthy. The summary is that you need to eat fruits, and veggies, lean proteins, good fats, and whole grains. And don't drink your calories. That means when in doubt, drink water😀

Shop right, and cook right 

The way you translate this into daily actions is that you shop right. If you buy brown bread instead of white bread, then brown bread is what you will end up eating. Same goes for brown rice. 

Similarly fruits and veggies are an important part of a healthy diet. One of my big breakthroughs was when I understood that eating fruits and vegetables are not an optional recommendation. They are the way to a healthier life. Once I got that, I made sure that every meal had a fruit and vegetable component. I also started adhering to getting in my "Five a day". If you don't know about "five a day", please google it, and importantly take steps to practice it.

The mistake I made was that in the beginning, I simply added the vegetables to my diet. I did not replace my carbs with them. This move made me gain even more weight. It was when I cut down my carbohydrate component to recommended portion sizes that the weight melted off and my mummy pooch went away. What enabled me to sustain being on a low carb diet, however, was the veggies! 

So yes, buy healthier food. But you can buy healthier food and then load it with calories in the preparation stage which can also derail you. So you also need to cook right. If you are used to fried foods, try boiling, steaming, and grilling. Make your stews with half the oil you're accustomed to. Remove the skins off your chicken before cooking it. Cut the fat off your meats. None of these is the magic bullet. They all matter. Together, they help you achieve a healthier lifestyle.

Train your palate to appreciate healthy food

Now that you have the healthier food on your plate, you have to eat that. It's called training your palate. You need to train your palate to appreciate healthy food. Here, you need to be patient with yourself. Of course it will not taste good to you at first. But you need to keep at it. For some perspective, even though it took me just a few years to be able to eat oatmeal without any sweetener, it has taken seven whole years for my tongue to appreciate the taste of tom brown without sweetener. I'm not suggesting it will take you that long. I share my own journey to encourage you not to give up if you're not able to do after a year or two. If you can't do without sweetener, start with a teaspoon of honey. Stick with that for a few months, then reduce to half a teaspoon. Stay with that for another 3 months, and then eliminate completely. 

This effort is absolutely worth it. It is when you get to the place of being able to eat foods like porridge without sweetener that the journey gets interesting because it dramatically expands your options. You can basically then eat anything you want because you've learned to adjust the foods to your needs. Nothing will be off limits. Not even bofrot. So there's an exciting future ahead. More on that later, but for now, let's stay with how to get started.

Take baby steps

Trying to change your entire diet overnight will for sure fail. What will happen is that you will do it enthusiastically for maybe one to three months, drop a lot of pounds, and then miss your favourite foods, go back to them and gain it all back. What has worked for me is gradual change. Sustainable change is always gradual. It takes big change to see big results but the way you get to big change over time is by taking small steps now. 

My recommendation is to change only one meal at a time. If you start with breakfast, then keep your lunch and dinner the same as they've always been until you've mastered the healthy breakfast before moving on to changing your lunch too. 

This is because a lot more goes into mastering one mealtime than you would think. 

  • You have to experiment with and find at least three different foods that you can eat or train yourself to eat the same thing everyday. Either of these two options takes time to master. I'm of the opinion that having three healthy breakfasts that you enjoy and look forward to eating is wiser than having only one option because if you get tired of eating your one food, you will likely go back to what you know which is whatever you were eating before you started this journey.
  • You have to determine how much of it to eat 
  • You have to determine the calories in the entire meal to be sure that it is indeed putting you on a path to accomplishing your weight loss goals and keeping you healthy. 
  • You have to discipline yourself  to keep going when quitting would be easier 
  • You need the discipline to not derail your great breakfast by going crazy when it's time for your mid-morning snack. It took me a while to learn to enjoy a plain apple. In my previous life, I always had it with peanut butter which increased my calories significantly. 
In my next post, I'll share more on how much to eat and the mindset needed to be able to eat that amount consistently. 

As always, post your questions in the comments if there are any.

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