Freedom From and With Food

This is another area where we have been taught to focus on what we “can’t” have. First thing, throw away that list of forbidden foods…it just keeps you trapped on a diet that doesn’t work. Being free from restrictive lists is one of the best things that can ever happen to your mind—and your body. If this is new to you, it may be a bit scary to think that yes, you can have ice cream whenever you want it. Now we all know that eating ice cream all day long is not going to help us lose weight or help us achieve our fitness goals. But that doesn’t mean we have to go to the opposite extreme and banish it from our lives forever. All foods have a place in our lives as long as we are in control and we are eating consciously…as long as we are free from food (cravings, binge eating, starving ourselves) then we are free with food.

Starting with focus once again, focus on the abundance of food, the variety that is available to you. Enjoy the flavors, textures, colors…this is good for your body and also stimulates the brain!

Our food must taste good or we won’t stick with it. No matter how healthy it is for us, if it doesn’t taste good we might try it a couple of times, but are we going to be willing to incorporate it into our lives for the rest of our lives? Probably not…so go for delicious—and easy!

It is important to be realistic about food…it does take time to prepare and to eat food, so if time is your biggest challenge the look at what is fast and simple to prepare. Do not expect that you are going to become a gourmet chef cooking 5 course meals every night if time is tight. Instead, focus on what will work for your schedule.

I love “planned overs” for this reason. Typically when I cook I will cook extra…maybe enough for another meal or part of one. I’ll chop up extra vegetables when I make a salad so I can quick toss them into an omelet for dinner the next day.

I also have some healthy quicker meals that I know I can grab…plain yogurt that I add my own fruit to, or make with nuts, seed, berries or fruit spread. It is so variable I love it, especially in the heat of summer.

Have some healthy snacks you can grab on hand…from string cheese to fresh fruit…so you never have to stare in the fridge and wonder, “what can I have?”

Go for the best quality that you can reasonably afford. Would we all be better off if we ate 100% organic produce…sure, probably…but right now, if it is going to cost you double are you going to be able to afford it…will you stick to it? If not, then do what you can to eat the healthiest, highest quality food you can. You will find that you are eating less in volume and a lot less “empty calories” like soda and traditional snacks…so the money you save there can help pay for some really great veggies!

If knowledge about nutrition or food prepare is not your strength, then this is an opportunity for you to learn. But make it easy! Start small and try new things. Get a cookbook (check one out from the library even), take a class, consult with a nutritionist. Try a variety of flavors and seasoning. Stevia is a great natural sweetener (you use a lot less then sugar, so sprinkle just a little.) Try some sea salt, garlic, and different herbs. Explore your local farmers market and get fresh seasonal produce.

You can break free of food cravings by eating regularly, limiting (not eliminating) simple carbohydrates and eating consciously. Cravings are generally related to blood sugar levels. By eating smaller amounts more often during the day we keep our blood sugar levels more even and our cravings tend to disappear and our moods are generally more stable, too!

Be sure to include protein in your meal plan at least 3 times a day…really you want to have some protein in every meal or snack to help your blood sugar levels. Protein is also needed to build muscle, so it is an important part of achieving your weight loss success goals. It is important to note that protein does not necessarily mean meat. You can eat nuts, dairy and other grains such as Quinoa to get a good amount of protein. Going vegan can make it more challenging for most people to get in enough protein to keep building their muscles, but it is certainly possible if that is something you want to do.

One food group that is vitally important that most dieters want to cut out is fats. There are lots of “good” fats out there. Good fats help our skin be more resilient and soft, as well as helping to lubricate our insides so foods are thoroughly processed and we get all the nutrients from them. We actually need to have some fat in our diet in order to lose weight. Good fats include flax seed oil, sesame oil, olive oil, walnut oil, avocadoes, nuts, feta cheese and butter (not everyone agrees with me on this one, but more and more evidence shows that using real butter is better for most people than using margarine.)

One easy way to guide yourself to eating properly is to use your plate as a guide. Try to fill it halfway with vegetables. That way you will get the nutrients that you need. Aim for a variety of vegetables, but not at every meal. Just mix it up so that over the course of a week or two you have a variety…it is boring for our tastebuds and not as good for our bodies if we just eat broccoli (or any other single vegetable) night after night. Trying to get in all the nutrients your body needs every single day is a lot of work. Make it easier on yourself and just as effective for your body by aiming for the variety to be spread out over a week or even two.

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