You may have noticed that I have a little problem with all of those fad diet pushers. It’s because they have messed with a very straightforward subject so they can fool us into giving them our money.
Before I bust some of their myths let’s cover what you should be eating.
Fruit: Eat a minimum of two pieces a day. Three or four is even better.
Vegetables: Eat a minimum of 3 ½-1 cup servings per day. The more the merrier.
Whole Grains: Eat a minimum of 6 servings a day. This includes brown rice, whole wheat flour, whole wheat couscous, etc.
Lean Protein: Eat a minimum of 2 servings a day. This food group includes beans, nuts, tofu, chicken breast, turkey.
Fat-free Dairy or Calcium-fortified Soy Products: Eat two to three servings a day. This group includes fat-free milk, soy milk, fat-free cheese, regular and soy yogurt, etc.
Healthy fats: 1-2 tsp. per day. This group includes olive oil, soy, and corn oil.
If you go to the store and use the above list as your shopping list and combine it with the calorie counting you will lose weight and feel great. End of story.
The rest of your calories should be spread evenly between fruits, vegetables, and dairy, emphasizing the fruits and vegetables a little more than the dairy.
FitDay.com will track all this for you automatically and rate how well you are doing.
This is not thrilling information. And it sounds an awful lot like hard work.
That is why the fad diets are so popular. They tell you that you can change your body without changing any of your habits.
Sad to say, most people would rather waste their money on a dream than actually put in the effort to look and feel great. But that isn’t you. You’re smarter than that.
I do understand that sometimes those stories sound good. So let’s talk about the two types of food most people get confused about.
Making Peace with Carbs
Complex carbohydrates are wonderful. You know them best as whole grain and whole wheat products, with a sprinkling of fruits and vegetables.
These boost your energy level for exercise and provide a lot of heart healthy fiber. They make you feel full right away. It’s the refined carbohydrates that are making people fat.
Don’t believe me? When was the last time you found someone who was compulsively overeating plain brown rice? I didn’t think so.
Let’s get real here. It’s the Danishes, the double chocolate muffins, the cakes, the cookies, and the fried stuff that makes us fat. That banana or carrot stick had very little to do with it.
Refined carbohydrates (or carbs) tend to raise your blood sugar very quickly. Your body can go into panic mode and dump a bunch of insulin into your blood to restore balance.
Unfortunately, your sugar level then drops very quickly. You start craving sugary, fatty foods (which is what got you into trouble in the first place).
Unless you break the cycle, this will go on forever. Cut out the refined stuff and it will be easier to eat less.
The Plan for Protein
You need protein. But not as much protein as you are probably already eating.
If you eat more protein than you need, then your body is forced to get rid of the excess. It does this by pulling the calcium out of your bones and using that to flush out the protein. This is fine if you like the hunch-back, osteoporotic look later in life.
No? Then keep your protein to no more than 35% of your calories. This translates into a few ounces a day.
People forget that for most of human history meat was rare and used the same way we use parsley—it was there for flavor and to dress the food up a bit. We don’t need much protein.
This is good, seeing how hard it is to get. Have you ever tried out-running an antelope?
Putting it all Together
So how do you make all the health guidelines work for you? How do you add whole grains, fruits and vegetables to your life when you don’t cook much? Here is a list of meal ideas you can use:
Look for 3g of fiber or more in your cereal and less than 8g of sugar. Cereals that qualify include Shredded wheat, All Bran, Fiber One, Kashi Go Lean. I use soymilk or fat-free, lactose-free milk.
Other breakfast food ideas include Egg whites, Canadian bacon, soy patties, and old fashioned steel-cut oatmeal with milk. Try to eat one piece of fruit at breakfast.
Eat two vegetables, 1 protein and 2 carbohydrates. The exact amount depends on your daily caloric needs.
I am assuming you eat out for lunch because I know how life is. These options can also be made at home. If you’re having Chinese, try to get brown rice, steamed vegetables, and either tofu or chicken.
If you’re going for typical American lumch, try for a Baked potato with vegetarian chili (get the vegetarian chili because it has less fat), or have Salad. Keep the dressing on the side. Put beans and lean protein on the salad so keeps you full longer. Sandwiches, go for whole grain bread, low or non-fat cheese, lean meat or soy substitute, and plenty of vegetables. Hold the mayo.
Try to keep this meal light. Eat enough so you won’t get hungry half an hour later, but go light.
Try to eat a bit more protein than carbohydrates at this meal. Eat 2 vegetables, 2 servings of protein, and 1 carbohydrate.
Here are some examples of things you should keep in your fridge. That way, when you come home you can grab something from each category, warm it up and serve.
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You can cook even if you have no time.
Go to your local grocery store and buy a couple rotisserie chickens. Get a bag or two of salad like Romaine and a bottle of low fat dressing.
Buy either whole wheat couscous or red potatoes. If you have a microwave you can have dinner for 4 in 10 minutes. Add some seasoning and you are there.
Good nutrition isn’t hard. It all comes down to keeping the right foods in your house, in your car, and at work.
You can have a healthy eating plan even if you eat out a lot. Most of your breakfast, lunch, and dinner choices can be found in a restaurant near you.
Give it a try for three weeks. Your body will thank you for it.