One should eat to live, not live to eat. ~ Moliere.
One of the most valuable lessons I have learnt on my journey to a healthier life, is that what you eat (or don’t eat) is far more important when losing weight, than exercise. That does not mean you don’t need to exercise. Regular exercise has many other health benefits in addition to weight loss.
Your diet is affected by what, where, when, why and even how you eat.
What you eat.
What you choose to eat directly impacts your weight. This is not rocket science. If you eat large quantities of high fat, high calorie foods, you are going to gain weight. Most persons who want to lose weight know that the first step is usually to change their diet. Whether this means reducing the quantity of your food intake, the type of food you consume, or more than likely, both options, a change is necessary for results to be achieved.
Where you eat.
If you are in the habit of eating while doing something else such as watching TV, you are at risk of overeating, unless you portion out your snacks ahead of time. When eating out, your choice of restaurant is also very important. Many restaurants now have “lite” menu choices, but your neighborhood pizza parlour may have less healthy options available.
When you eat.
It is never wise to eat just before going to bed. This will result in your body working hard to digest the food you recently consumed, instead of burning fat stored in your body while you sleep.
Why you eat.
Not everyone eats just because they are hungry. If you are having a bad day at work or school, there is a good chance that you will turn to some form of comfort food to ease your misery. Chocolate has always been one of my vices in those kinds of situations. This is where you have the opportunity to find some other means of comfort to ease your pain. For me, exercise is now my comfort food. Many of my miserable days have been alleviated by a half hour run or a class at the gym.
How you eat.
When you eat, it takes a while for your stomach to send a message to your brain, indicating that it is no longer in need of food. It is therefore not a good idea to eat quickly, no matter how hungry you might be. Taking your time to eat allows you to stop eating when you are full, giving your stomach time to catch up with your brain.
Here are some tips which worked for me, which may help you make adjustments to your diet:
1. Eat smaller meals more frequently. This will help to prevent hunger, which can cause you to overeat.
2. Drink a lot of water. Drinking water has many benefits including helping to control calories and energizing muscles.
3. Eat slowly.
4. Reduce intake of fried foods. Baked and grilled foods are better options.
5. Eat carbohydrates like bread, potatoes, rice no later than 2pm to allow time to burn them off before bedtime.
6. Travel with food when going on the road. If you are out longer than you intended, this prevents you from heading to the nearest fast food outlet, if you get hungry.
7. Whenever possible, plan meals at least one day before, and prepare whatever you can at that time.
If you are able to implement and stick to these guidelines, you will see and feel the results, but don’t be too hard on yourself. You do not have to deprive yourself completely of everything you love to eat. Just put in the extra work (like exercise) to compensate for any occasional lapses. Be sure to consult your doctor before making any major lifestyle change.