My work with ex-dieters in recovery has often felt like deprogramming members of a cult. They seem to have been brainwashed about food, as well as eating, portions, hunger, appetite, cravings, calories, carbs, fat and why they overeat. It is challenging to uproot long-held beliefs and prejudices, especially when they are associated with anxiety about food in general. Why do we have so much confusion about weight and eating in our culture? Most of it comes from diet propaganda and even medical research. We have new studies, new information, new cautions, new guidelines, new techniques and new diets every week. And after a time, there are new reports refuting all that went before.
This deprogramming process is often my main role in coaching, but my power to break through years of prejudice is limited. People must be willing to let go of these long- held beliefs and embrace a whole new way of thinking about food and eating. If they can’t do this, they will be unable to break free of the war with their bodies. Ultimately, I am not the deprogrammer, they are.
Weight Loss Tips 2019 Bad Food Worse Food and Totally Evil Food Photo Gallery
Calories are good. Let’s say that one more time: Calories are good! We couldn’t get along without them for very long. We need calories. Calories are units of energy that may or may not come along with various nutrients. We especially need nutrient-loaded calories. We call the calories in products like pop “empty calories” because they don’t have any nutrients besides sugar. Fruits, on the other hand, although also made up of mostly water, contain important nutrients. So, there’s a big difference between foods that are mostly water but supply only empty calories and water-based foods that are nutrient-loaded. It’s essential that you focus your food choices on the nutrient-rich foods so all your valuable calories can count towards your recovery.
No-calorie, low-calorie, sugar-free, fat-free and low fat foods are not holy, and usually they are downright undesirable. Foods that fit these categories, so attractive to dieters, are chemically altered to taste like they are the real thing. But they aren’t the real thing. They are artificially altered to mimic the real thing by adding chemicals, bulk agents, artificial sweetening agents, and fat substitutes while taking natural fat and sugar out. I call this artificial food, and it is all produced for a culture that is convinced that calories, fat, and sugar, by themselves, make people fat. They do not. Maladaptive eating patterns make people fat.
Here We Go—FOOD!
The ultimate goal in developing your diet is to choose foods that are as close as possible to the way nature produced them. Simple foods prepared simply are best for quality and nutrition. Choose organic. It’s always the best way to go if you have a choice and can afford it. If money is an issue, the most important foods to keep on your organic list are dairy, meat and eggs. If there is only one ingredient on certain foods, i.e. raspberries, you know they belong at the top of your grocery list.
There is a movement in this country toward fresh, whole, organic, vegetarian-based diets. This is an extremely important trend away from the processed, human-designed, additive-laden stuff that stocks much of our grocery store shelves. We all need to improve our diets, heading toward this type of food —clean food I call it—for our health and well-being. Some people in recovery find going cold turkey to plant-based eating works best for them However, I have discovered in my counseling that many people need to transition more gradually. Sometimes, inspired by one of these whole, vegetarian-type diets, ex-dieters try to change things all at once, and in doing that, set them selves up for failure. They try to go from hamburgers and French fries to kale and sunflower seeds in a day. Another problem is this abrupt change cuts their calorie intake so drastically that they just can’t keep it up and the super quality eating shift goes to waste.
So, definitely decide now to move your diet towards plant-based eating, whenever you can. Perhaps you shouldn’t change everything at once, but start by adding more fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, complex carbs, etc. to your diet. Carrying fresh foods with you for snacks and building meals around them at times will most likely ensure that you fit more of them into your eating, improving the quality of your diet every day.
There’s one essential skill you’ll need to keep your diet high in quality food: understanding food labels. This may have seemed complicated for you when you were looking for so many percentages and grams and calories in the past, but it’s really not that hard to get the basics for good quality eating. When reading a label, the first thing to look for is simple: do you recognize the individual ingredients listed? If not, never mind. If the first ingredient starts with “organic” that’s a good quality start, so read on. It’s not a good sign to find many ingredients, perhaps over ten, unless they qualify as simple, recognizable foods. And it’s certainly not a good sign if the label lists any word you can’t pronounce. The best ingredient list is a short one that sounds familiar.
Because ingredients are listed in order of quantity, the first three or four really count. Avoid products with high fructose corn syrup (or anything that sounds like it), partially hydrogenated oils, trans-fats, sugar, and a lot of cholesterol. Beneficial fats include polyunsaturated fat, mono-saturated fat, and many plant-based oils. Some are better than others. Inclusion of protein, carbohydrate and fat is often an indication of a well-balanced food, such as cereal and yogurt.
Broad Food Groups
The first way I’ve classified food is into three big categories. Sometimes foods bridge two categories but each of the divisions comes with a basic definition. The second way I’ve arranged food is by quality using a fuel analogy. People in recovery quickly get used to these categories. No one food, eaten on occasion, will determine whether or not an individual will recover her best weight and a normal relationship with food. But, foods considered poor quality, when eaten regularly, may keep a person stuck.
You may be surprised that the quality foods on the REAL FOOD list include just about every meal-type food you can think of. Formerly taboo foods like cheese, peanut butter and even butter make their way to the Real Food list. Of course, there are some practical things to consider about these fatconcentrated foods, and we’ll cover these in just a minute.
Real food is easy to define. It is good quality food or combinations thereof that are not overly laden with fat (particularly of the saturated or trans-types), or sugar or corn syrup. Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with fat or sugar. It’s just that in quantity, they squeeze out quality nutrients and other important food ingredients like whole fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole grain carbohydrates. The eater gets full on fatty and sugary foods without adequate nutrition—a quality famine. No, real food is generally simple—mixed greens salads accompanied by just about anything, grilled chicken (or non-meat protein), blueberries and goat cheese, stir-fry shrimp and vegetables with rice, eggs with toast and OJ, pork tenderloin, baked potatoes, broccoli, granola with almonds. It is not complicated to learn to eat real foods and leave the other stuff alone when you’re eating enough.
In order to cover a broad spectrum of nutrients, food choices should enable variety and balance over time. Variety refers to eating food from all the food groups daily if possible, with emphasis on whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean-protein foods. This recommendation stems from the fact that most of us have poor habits where food variety, especially fresh, whole food, is concerned. You’ll notice that the Real Food list is not focused on low fat. In my experience, popular low-fat diets usually leave a person unsatisfied and frequently hungry. This is because fat provides long-term blood sugar stability and an important feeling of fullness and satisfaction after eating. Besides, taking dietary fat to an artificially low level cuts calories dramatically, setting a dieter up for the feast or famine cycle and failure. Of course, a high-fat diet is no better, so good judgment is called for here.
Dieting at the Grocery Store
It’s possible, and even recommended, that the person determined to conquer her weight problem for good learn to run past certain aisles while shopping for real food at the grocery store. There is no need to linger in the chips or candy aisles, or the freezer laden with ice cream treats. The bakery section may beckon, but except for whole grain breads, it’s off limits too. The reason is simple: You won’t eat food that isn’t there . And if you didn’t buy it at the grocery store when you were in a strong, resolute mood, you will not have to cope with the temptation later at home.
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