The healthy weight installments continue! Read the previous parts on motivation (Part 1a and Part 1b), and the preceding section on better eating. In this part 2b, we focus on practical tips on gearing you up to eat better, healthier and cleaner. And here are they….
6. Read the Nutrition Labels
I know that Indonesian Government has not been great in enforcing the placement of nutrition labels, and we just have to make do with what we have. When nutrition label exists on the back of packaging, the main values to watch: calories, saturated fat, sugar count, dietary fiber, and cholesterol. Caloric is pretty obvious. Saturated fat is artery clogging and elevates cholesterol – the lower the better. Dietary fiber is good to make you feel full, helps you regular with #2, and improves your bad cholesterol level. Sugar content is always a good thing to watch. The recommended intake of sugar daily is no more than 6 teaspoons (or 100 calories) per day for adult female, and 9 teaspoons (150 calories). In general, the lesser ingredients is better – meaning it is less processed and contains less fillers. This rule doesn’t always sound true though. If the only ingredients listed are flour and sugar, better stay away from that food! Be also wary with claims and stamps of ‘healthy’, ‘fat free’ or ‘loaded with fiber’. A lot of stuff that is fat free contains a lot of artificial sugar, or just sugar to compensate with the lack of fat (fat adds taste). When the claim is about fiber, read how much of dietary fiber there is. I don’t see how ‘nutritious wheat biscuit’ containing only 2 grams of fiber per serving is really that much better than a glass of low-fat of milk containing 5 gr of fiber (with about the same calories, more calcium and protein).
7. Plan Your Meals and Track Your Food
Think what you will have for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks the night before. This will help you not be impulsive when food is present. Tracking your food teaches you to face the reality of how much and what kinds of food you have been eating. When you look back to that food journal and see that your choices have been the greasy, deep-fried, refined-sugar, fatty food, chances are you may be a little more motivated to reconsider the things you put in your plate.
8. Learn Whether You are 5-Meals or 3-Meals-a-Day Gal
The conventional wisdom is to eat 5 smaller meals. But more and more of recent articles that I read, what is best may not always be the 5-meals-a-day. The logic behind 5 smaller meals is to keep your blood sugar steady so you don’t arrive famished at your next meal – and that is a sound logic, don’t get me wrong. But not every body works the same. The best way to see which one is better for you is to do both! Try one week on 5 meals a day, another week on 3 meals. Pay close attention to how you feel and the total intake of food. You don’t have to force yourself to eat 5 meals if eating 3-meals ends up making you feeling better and taking in lesser food (and vice versa).
9. Allow Yourself to Occasionally Indulge
This will allow you to stick to your new lifestyle without the unnecessary suffering. With time, hopefully you will learn that even your indulgence may change, either in type of food or the portion. I am a carb queen, I’ll admit that. In my recent trip to Bali, I was bewildered with the choices of bread the hotel served at the breakfast buffet. I took slices of the different types of bread, but instead of finishing them off, I had two small bites on each. Prior to my conscious decision to lose weight, I would just clean off my plate in two seconds. Now, I have learned how to reasonably indulge without wrecking my hard work.
10. Learn To Diet Effectively
Bust the myths to save yourself some time and energy. I wrote an article about Top 5 Diet Myths here. Don’t just believe whatever they write in magazines – do more research to validate whatever claims. If there is something I learn from health magazines, the often contradict themselves. The best way to diet effectively is to maintain a healthy, balanced meal regimen, with taking in different food kinds in moderation.
This part concludes our better eating section. Diet is a huge topic and it is just impossible to cover in two posts. But what I am hoping is that this will give you an idea on how to start and what to look for, albeit very general. We absolutely would like to discuss more about clean eating in future posts! In the mean time, always check out Female Daily’s Weight Loss and Diet & Nutrition threads. There are a lot of sharing going on, and of course, success stories too!
The next installment is about exercising – my favorite topic of all three. Exercising is the last piece of the puzzle (well, almost), and just like diet, it is a big subject on its own, but we all gotta start somewhere!