Food for Thought: 3 Simple Solutions For Your Biggest Food Challenges

APRIL 03, 2018
We have all heard, the phrase 'You are what you eat,' but what counts the most? Quantity? Quality? Total number of calories? There is so much information out there on the internet, it can be confusing to sort through it all!
 
When it comes to a sustainable lifestyle change, there are many things to take into consideration, such as food preferences, work/life schedule, body type and so on. However, there are a few key principles that impact everyone across the board.
 
Food is a key pleasure in our life. It is okay to use food to nourish your body and indulge every so often. I use the 80/20 rule, where 80% of my food comes from whole food sources and 20% is 'fun food.' Where we run into a problem is when we eat too much, too quickly and low quality food.
 
Here are 3 ways you may not realize you are sabotaging your healthy eating plan and the solutions to help:

1. Eating too much 

Plain and simple—portion sizes that are too big. Going back for second and third helpings contributes to consuming extra calories. Consuming extra calories through drinks, dressings, sauces, and picking at your kids chicken nuggets, adds up. Repeat this enough and you will gain weight. It takes 3500 excess calories to gain 1 pound. Some people are 'weekday dieters' and only follow their nutrition plan on the weekdays. They then go out on weekends and consume excess amounts of alcohol, and eat out at restaurants. Others may not know that their portions are, in fact, too big. Bringing awareness to how much you are consuming through food logging is one way to stay on track. 
 
Weight gain has a simple equation:
Calories consumed > calories burned = weight gain
Calories consumed < calories burned = weight loss

Solutions:
  • Change your environment. If you take your food to the couch to eat and watch television, change it up. Be present and sit at a table.
  • Start measuring and weighing your food. Don’t just guess that something is 3 ounces, Measure it! Foods like nuts or peanut butter are easy to estimate and go overboard on since fats are more calorie dense.
  • If you are out at a restaurant and don’t want to bring your handy-dandy scale, use the My Plate Method. This will help ensure you are getting a balanced meal. Use a 9” plate and mentally divide the plate in half. Half of the plate should consist of leafy green vegetables, or another non-starchy vegetable like carrots or string beans. The other half of the plate can mentally be divided in two. One-quarter of the plate will be a lean protein such as chicken, fish, turkey, tofu or another vegetarian option for protein. The other one-quarter will be a starchy carbohydrate like a sweet potato, brown rice or whole grain bread. Viola! You have your meal!

2. Eating too quickly 
Eating while distracted could mean looking at your phone, being on your computer or on a phone call. Eating too quickly also means your brain doesn’t have time to register to your stomach that it is full. This feeds back into number 1. A meta-analysis of 24 studies showed data that distracted eaters consume up to 50% more than their attentive counterparts!1

Solutions:
  • Put your fork down in between each bite. Do your best to chew your food 20 times before swallowing it. Chewing your food aids in digestion and metabolism.
  • Put all electronics away and on silent or airplane mode. Be fully present with your meal. If you have a family dinner, have everyone put their phones in a basket until the meal is done. Distraction can cause you to consume more than you think.

3. Eating low quality food - Continuously eating low quality, nutrient depleted food leads to poor health. Garbage in, garbage out. If you are eating poor quality food, you won’t have energy. Limit processed foods such as baked goods, pretzels, candy and pretty much anything that has ingredients you can’t pronounce.
 
Processed foods have more than 5 ingredients and the first one listed is the most concentrated in the product. Anything with less than 5 ingredients is minimally processed or a whole food source. Ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, MSG or food dyes are the more popular offenders that need to be avoided. Studies have shown a direct link between consumption of high fructose corn syrup and obesity.2 

Opt instead for whole food sources, which include many plant-based foods found in nature, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, grains etc. When looking at meat options, choose grass-fed beef, or organic, hormone-free chicken, as these options will have a higher nutrient value and less added hormones.

Solutions:
  • Be aware of where your food is coming from and read Nutrition Labels. Even if a package 'looks' healthy, always read the Nutrition Facts and the ingredient list. The more you are aware of the ingredients, calorie content or nutrient quality, the better decisions you can make to stay healthy.
  • Utilize the 80/20 rule. Twenty percent of your food can be from 'fun foods' or anything that isn’t a whole food source. It is about moderation, not deprivation. 

References
  1. Raven, K. Distracted eaters likely to take in more calories. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-eaters-snacks/distracted-eaters-likely-to-take-in-more-calories-idUSBRE92E10G20130315. Published March 15, 2013. Accessed April 2, 2018.
  2. Bray, George A et al. Am J Clin Nutr, Volume 79, Issue 4, 1 April 2004, Pages 537–543, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/79.4.537. Accessed April 2, 2018.
 
 

Dr. Christina Tarantola, PharmD, CHC, CHt
Dr. Christina Tarantola, PharmD, CHC, CHt
Dr. Christina Tarantola, PharmD, CHC, CHt is a licensed pharmacist, health coach, hypnotherapist and Founder of Enlightened Wellness Solutions, a transformational coaching company geared to empower and energize people to take charge of their health! Dr. Christina is also a passionate author of three paperback books, Revealing Your Inner Radiance: Healing through the Heart, Reclaim Your Power: A Roadmap to Re-energizing Your Life and Lighten Up! 7 Weeks to Release, Recharge and Revitalize. For the last 6 years, Dr. Christina has been providing educational health talks in the Pittsburgh area, sharing her expertise on her monthly podcast segment on The Pharmacy Podcast, and creating relevant, informative health articles, YouTube videos and newsletters to empower her clients to live healthy lives!
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