Monday, March 29, 2010

What does "Eating Healthy" really mean?

I meet with many clients who want to lose weight and many of them say "I eat healthy, so I don't understand why I am not losing weight". I have them tell me what they eat on a typical day, which usually sounds like this: For breakfast I have oatmeal or honey nut cheerios with a piece of fruit, for snack another piece of fruit. For lunch a salad and later on I have a fruit yogurt with side of fruit. Then for dinner I have some type of meat, a salad and rice. Then for dessert, a weight watchers diet ice cream." I ask about the "salads" and it usually consists of lettuce, spinach, bacon bits, chopped eggs, ham, and ranch dressing. I am amazed at how many people consider this diet plan healthy. When I asked where the vegetables are, the reply is lettuce and maybe spinach in the salad. That's it. No protein till dinner and a lot of sugar for the day. Many people think that because they have cut out greasy fried foods that they are eating healthy and unfortunately that's not all you need to do. If you total everything she ate today it comes to around: 2410 calories! 19% protien, 40 percent carbs and 41% fat. As women and men get older we tend to lose muscle but women lose muscle at a much higher rate then men. We need more protein in this diet along with "healthy" fat. She said she had no idea she was eating unhealthy. So she is eating healthier than she was before but now really has to work on cleaning her diet up to get those last pounds off. So we need to increase her proteins and decrease her fats. Plus she needs to knock off some of her daily caloric intake so she can lose weight (and exercise!).

So I watched the TV show with Jamie Oliver and the Food Revolution. If you have not seen this yet then you should! (I think it comes on Friday nights) Jamie went to a public elementary school where the food specs are laid out by the USDA. The cafeteria cooks were taught to use a ton of processed foods in order to make the food specs by the USDA and get it cooked in time. The kids were eating pizza for breakfast and mostly chicken nuggets or pizza for lunch! The women in the kitchen were so mad that Jamie wanted them to cook items from scratch to make the meals healthier. They thought they were doing well feeding their kids healthy foods and if the USDA set out the regulations then it has to be healthy, right? No! I was appalled. I was watching the commercials in between the show and saw a few that flabbergasted me! One was for Ragu and how if you feed your child Ragu, then they get a whole serving of vegetables in it without them knowing. DID THEY MENTION there is 3 teaspoons of sugar in each serving (per half cup)? NOPE! Then I saw a commercial for Yoplait yogurt making its claim of how it is so good for you because it has calcium and vitamin d. BUT did they mention there is almost 6 teaspoons of sugar in there? NOPE!

No wonder it is so confusing to people, having them think they are eating healthy by all these claims. Some of the claims are true; they just do not tell you it is bad for you too with all that extra sugar. Not to mention, the kids at that school on the Food Revolution, were drinking vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry milk for both breakfast and lunch. Those flavored milks have more sugar in them than sodas! Sugar is ok in small amounts but it is high in a lot of stuff we eat! And that will keep you fat. It is also labeled as fructose syrup and high fructose syrup. The ones that say Low Sugar or Low Carbs such as Quaker products and Arnold Mills breads have sucralose in them which is fake sugar, so that is why they say it is low sugar. The latest studies done on artificial sugar shows that it actually helps us to gain weight. It makes our brains thinking it is getting something sweet and when you do not get it, it can cause your blood sugar drop and have you crave a lot of sugar. It also sucks out your energy due to the drop in blood sugar.

So, I guess the question is How do we eat healthy? It is a long learning process. Meeting with a nutrition coach (like me!) can really help you determine how to turn your diet around. But if you follow these tips you will have a good start. Good Luck:

  •  READ, READ, READ: I can not stress this enough, you should read your food labels to see what is in it, how much: protein, fat and carbs it has. Also look at serving sizes. You will be surprised at how little a serving can be on a lot of foods that we are used to eating and we eat 3-4 servings unknowingly. Such as the individual ben and jerry size ice cream. A serving is ½ a cup! There are 4 servings in there but most people eat the whole thing. That is like 1200 calories! Yikes! Most women that want to lose weight need to cut there calories down to 1200-1800 per day so that Ice cream is like 1 days worth of calories!

  •  Measure: This is also so important. It is a pain to do it at first but after you have done it for awhile then you begin to be able to eye it. If you are having spaghetti for dinner ¼ cup of pasta is one serving. Restaurants give 2-4 times this much for their entrees. Use shredded cheese and measure a serving out (usually a ¼ or ½ cup) and use that. Since it is shredded it will seem like a lot but just really tricking yourself.

  •  Chew slowly! I watch so many people chew once then swallow. I do not know how they do not choke. Take small bites and chew your food slow. This will help your food digest better and you will get fuller faster.

  •  Try to spread your meals out to 5-6 small meals a day. This will help keep you full all day.

  •  See a professional! This is your best bet. You can use a registered dietician or a certified nutrition coach.

  •  GOOD LUCK! :)