Wednesday, February 29, 2012

5 Ways to Maintain a Healthy Weight While Eating Lots of Food and Enjoying Life

Notice how I said "healthy" weight. I did not use the word "thin". You can be healthy as a thin person or as an average person or as a larger person. If you are active and eating healthy then most likely your weight will settle to a healthy weight which can look different for different people. One thing is for sure-we need to let go of the idea that we should compare ourselves to the pictures we see in the media. Those are models and they are actually usually very unhealthy!

Your body needs to eat, every day and all day long. Not only that but life is meant to be enjoyed. That is hard to do when you are addicted to food and constantly dealing with cravings or shame when you have eaten too much of the bad stuff. Scientific research has shown us that foods filled with salt, fat, and sugar actually affect our brains in the same way that drugs do, creating a vicious cycle of craving and tolerance to the foods we are addicted to so that we need more and more to get that pleasurable feeling.

Is there a way that we can learn to eat food and not obsess about it every minute? Can we live without cravings, shame, and guilt over the fact that we eat food we know isn't good for us?

Yes! Here are a few simple rules for eating a plant-based diet that will keep you full and minimize food cravings:

1) Eat lots of high-fiber, high nutrient, and high-water content foods. Foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and nuts and seeds will keep you feeling full quicker and longer because they fill you up. Also, they will supply the nutrients your body needs.

2) If you crave sugar, front-load your day with naturally sweet food like fruit or oatmeal with fresh or dried fruit (dates are great in oatmeal and muesli!). Additionally, have fruit as a snack when you crave sweets.

3) Follow Dr. Fuhrman's advice and eat salad first, then veggies, then starches! This might look like: salad, then soup, then brown rice tofu bowl. You are guaranteed to be full...of the good stuff.

4) Drink lots of water (or tea or coffee). Eliminate juice, soda, etc. which is just extra calories that your body will store as fat. Fruit juice without the fiber can cause a spike in blood sugar. It is better to eat the fruit and get the fiber with the juice. And soda...well that is just bad. Diet soda- don't even get me started! That stuff should be illegal. Chemical cocktail, anyone? The more you eliminate sugary things (besides fruit) from your diet, the less you will crave over time.

5) Eat every 2-3 hours. Wake, Meal, Snack, Meal, Snack, Meal, Snack, Bed. Do not restrict yourself as you set yourself up to binge on unhealthy foods. This requires planning: chopping fruits and veggies, making a batch of soup on a Sunday, etc. It's not easy but it's worth it!

Here is a sample day based on the 5 principles:

Eat breakfast (1 cup oatmeal with banana, walnuts, blueberries* and flax meal or chia seeds. 1/2 cup almond milk on oatmeal)
Snack: apple* and 2 TBS sunflower or peanut butter
Lunch: Giant "taco" salad with salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, olives, and bowl of lentil soup
snack: chopped veggies (broccoli, carrots, celery) with 2 TBS hummus
Dinner: Salad, pasta marinara, and sauteed kale.
Snack: soy yogurt with 1/4 cup granola**

*don't forget that blueberries and apples are part of the "dirty dozen" of fruits and vegetables you should always buy organic due to pesticides. See here.
**vegan granola, of course! I use agave syrup and Earth Balance to make mine or buy at the store.

Yeesh that's a lot of food. Good nutritious food! It makes me hungry just looking at it. That reminds me: it's time for my afternoon snack. Banana with sunflower seed butter, here I come!

For more information on eating a healthy plant-based diet please see the list of websites on this blog.

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