“I watch what I eat…” (a nutrition coach’s look at what you really mean)
You say, “I watch what I eat” – I say, “What does that mean??”
I watch what I eat is a phrase I hear on quite the regular basis from people who are seeking weight loss advice, that I am starting as their nutrition coach or when they find out what I do in a general social situation. Everyone technically watches what they eat, you look at a food item, you decide if you are going to eat it and then you watch it enter your mouth. But what does that mean when it comes to health and weight loss exactly? I could ask a room full of people that very question and get vastly different answers. You may think you are watching what you eat in the context of eating more sensibly…but if you don’t truly know what is healthy, what is good for your goals or how much of the good stuff to eat, then what are you watching? Do you just mean you choose side salads over french fries when dining out or you switched from regular to diet soda? There is so much more to living optimally then just reducing caloric intake or switching to baked from fried food.
The other day I ran into an old infomercial participant who was really successful with her body transformation under my tutelage. She introduced me to an older gentleman she was sitting with and said “this girl got me in great shape a few years ago”. Her friend then launches into an explanation (because apparently anytime someone learns what I do they feel compelled to give me their diet history, it can be entertaining to say the least) that for the last five days he has been eating only apples “to get healthy”. He was quite proud of his dedication to said apple-diet. When I asked where he got the idea he said it just seemed like a healthy cleanse. Hmm…anyone else scratching their head? Does health come from over doing one food group and not getting other vital nutrients? Does health come from sugar rushes at each eat meal?
The next day I had someone tell me (excitedly) that they have completely cut out sugar and have no cravings!!! That’s awesome right? Until I asked what a day of meals looks like for them and their response was “eggs and oatmeal at breakfast, apple and low-fat turkey on a whole grain wrap at lunch, smoothie (enter chain smoothie shop name here) before a workout, dinner is fish, sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli etc” My response was “Wow you must be feeling great… living on that sugar high!” I was met with a blank stare. Every meal they had was a SUGAR BOMB! So unless they just meant they cut out gummy worms, caramel macchiatos and ice cream every day, they are far from living a sugar-free life. Any carb that is not a fiber can turn to glucose in the blood stream. Any glucose that cannot be used for immediate energy needs will cause inflammation and fat storage. It doesn’t matter if it came from a candy cane, sweet potato, whole wheat bread or soda. Sugar (and a low fat, low fiber diet) is the enemy keeping you from the body you adore but also robbing you of the opportunity to live a disease free, inflammation free life not to mention a mood and hormone balanced life.
I am not surprised when the people who say, “I watch what I eat” follow up that statement with “but I just can’t lose the last 5 or 10 lbs or the scale has stalled after my initial few weeks of weight loss etc.” When I say, “What do you actually eat?”, it generally goes something like this “I try to eat salads with low fat dressing, tons of fruit, oatmeal in the morning, cut back on meats, drinking more protein shakes, switched to whole grains, etc” This is the part where my shoulders slump in frustration and I quickly figure out if I should give my 60 second speech or do I just spare myself the spit and say “keep it up” because I know this person needs a lot of myth debunking and habit changing done and they may not seem willing to learn or try anything new. If they aren’t a potential client I sometimes simply say – “That’s a start! But don’t be afraid of consuming fat – you need good fat to rid your body of excess stored fat. It also controls hormone and good cholesterol production and saves your brain. EAT FAT. And oh yeah – eat more fiber instead of sugary carbs”. I have trouble not imparting at least one nugget for them to think about… and if I only have 2 seconds I say “EAT FAT!” But there is so much more to health and metabolism than those simple statements. There is gut health, inflammation, mitochondrial health, mindset, hormones, stress and the list goes on. It is nearly impossible to have an effective metabolism without having a healthy gut or sufficient intake of healthy fats.
On my F…The Diet program, we focus a lot on providing solid, ongoing education that debunks a LOT of mainstream MYTHS about dieting, getting lean and what is actually healthy eating. You will be amazed at how your body heals, your aches and pains subside, your mind is clearer, mood is happier, your energy knows no bounds and the fat layers of your stomach melt away. I highly recommend you downloading the F…the Diet 60 day Transformation program if you are serious about “watching what you eat” and really getting results that you can maintain.
Here are a few parting tips for you “food watchers”:
NET CARBS: When choosing a carb/starchy food – look for the lowest in total net carbs (I call them “impact carbs” because they are the carbs that negatively impact your blood sugar levels and require insulin to be created to shuttle the sugar into fat cells). This means you look at the total number of carbs then subtract the grams of fiber. For example, if your tortilla wrap has 30g carbs but 11g of fiber the net carbs are 19g that your body actually has to contend with. Fiber is passed through your system undigested so it won’t spike your blood sugar.
EAT THE FAT. You need more fat than you probably think. I will talk more about that in other articles and at length on F… The Diet, but for starters try to get fat at each meal like coconut oil, coconut butter, avocado, olive, flax, walnut oils, chia seeds, raw nuts and other seeds, fish like salmon, whole organic eggs and organic grass fed meats.
REAL SAUCES AND DRESSINGS. It is better to have a small amount of the real stuff (the higher fat sauces) than it is to have more of the low fat stuff. Why? I already said we need fat for our good health, but the low-fat dressings have to make up the flavor somehow so they pump in the sugar and sodium and often the chemicals… Boo!
SKIP THE CORN (and corn based products) – they are a crop that is heavily genetically modified . These corn-based foods contribute to excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty acids in our diet same with SOY… SKIP THE SOY TOO! It will cause an imbalance in your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, which leads to inflammation and oxidation within your body. This inflammation is the major cause of heart disease and strokes, while the oxidative damage can lead to various cancers.
SALT. Skip the foods high in table salt that leads to water retention and instead opt for fresh vegetables and other whole foods that you intentionally then ADD SEA SALT to to help balance your minerals and electrolytes.
EAT A VARIETY. Even if a food is “healthy” eating the same things day after day leaves you devoid of other nutrients and causes your body to be overtaxed, can drain your energy as it is trying to produce enough of the same digestive enzymes to break down those same foods over and over. Good health, better digestion (a happy gut) comes from variety of foods.
EAST ACROSS THE RAINBOW. Dark greens and brilliant natural colors have high antioxidant, phytonutrient and health properties.
READ LABELS. If your food contains an extensive ingredient label then it probably doesn’t contain much real food in it either – skip it. Keep it real, keep it simple.
For more great nutrition education join my “F…The Diet” online nutrition program that utilizes the 8 most effective F Factors for efficient FAT LOSS! Click Here to learn more