Some initial tips, as I change my ways...
Monday, March 03, 2008
So I've discovered something very nifty about making my food log public. When I have a craving for something that's bad for me, I think about logging it in, and the embarrassment I will feel when posting it... and voila, I suddenly don't feel like eating it anymore!
Tracking what I eat has, so far, proven the most valuable tool of this site. I have for a long time been perplexed, wondering why I eat healthy foods and am still overweight. I mean, I don't eat a lot of fried or breaded stuff, and I don't like stuff that's really sweet (except I have a severe weakness for cheesecake, and pumpkin pie- but even that's only occasional); plus I stay away from beef and pork most of the time because I actually like leaner meats and vegetarian fare better. Plus I have seen people much skinnier than me gorging themselves on fried chicken and pizza and the like and yet they never gain weight! It has even grown tiresome listening to doctors and others instruct me about eating a wide range of foods, including fruits and vegetables and whole grains, because they don't listen to me when I tell them, Yo I already do, there's something else going on!
Tracking my food has helped immensely with this issue because it has revealed to me important factors of my diet that may be acting negatively against my efforts... things that people have never pointed out to me when I complain that things are just not working (partly because many doctors, trainers etc. never listen grrrrr!!!). I've listed them below in case they might help other people who also feel that they eat right and should be losing more weight:
- Shortly after first tracking my food on Sparkpeople, I discovered that because I often eat vegetarian meals, had cut back on dairy significantly, and rarely ate nuts, that I was low on protein! I was getting well below Spark's recommended daily allowance... everyday. So I consciously incorporated more protein-rich foods, like whole grains, nuts, and appropriate dairy. Getting enough protein is necessary for maintaining a good metabolic level, so Doh! no wonder I couldn't lose weight.
- I cannot STAND lowfat cheeses, much less nonfat. They taste like nothing to me, so I might as well eat tofu, and I don't really care for that either. So I haven't cut FULLFAT cheese out of my diet, but I have to monitor very carefully how much I eat. I used to binge eat cheese on a regular basis, because I love it, and well, Mexican food is one of my favorites... and you know how Mexican food often comes layered with cheese. Yet I didn't quite know just how fattening it is! So I've cut back significantly and increased the amount of yogurt and cottage cheese (two dairy items I can tolerate in lowfat form).
- I had a lapse in tracking my food with SparkPeople (bad Maria!) and when I came back, I realized that I was eating up to the highest number of fat cals in the range suggested by SparkPeople. Okay, sooo, in increasing my protein level, I also increased my fats level, in the form of nuts... etc. Plus, well, I like my margarine. And dairy. What to do? I found that often if I avoided or replaced one thing in my diet per day--say, a full fledged latte--then I could significantly reduce the amount of fat I consumed. Or, I could eat beans as a source of protein rather than cheese or something. Even choosing not to use margarine on my english muffin in the morning... 11 grams of fat reduced to ZERO! I also started to think of my meals in terms of categories. If I get a good dose of carbs and protein in the morning, then I can take care of my veggie servings in the form of a salad at lunch, then whatever else I need for dinner; all, of course, aiming for lowest possible fat. Because the fat cals will come on their own: really, they will!
- Dressings! I used to like mayo, ranch, anything cream-based. I quickly learned that everything is an acquired taste. A tuna sandwich with Italian dressing, or a salad with a fruity lowfat or nonfat dressing, or mustard instead of mayo, are all very delicious. I also discovered, in both dressings and in cooking, that substituting lemon or lime juice for large quantities of oil works great! Citrus is always good with poultry, and salsa is sooo easy to make with tomatoes, cilantro, garlic and some citrus! It's great in salads, too, as a dressing- maybe mixed in with a little jam or mustard.
-String snacks throughout the day. Eating small amounts throughout the day prevents me from gorging at the next meal... cause I'm just not as hungry. It's difficult for me to find tme to pack things with me to work/school, and I'm just not that organized... but even if I can manage to bring a granola bar, I can eat half of it as brunch and half of it as... lupper? Or bring a fruit or carrots, and do the same. That helps to cut down portion sizes immensely.
- This probably goes without saying, but when eating out, cut back on cals by avoiding appetizers, or eat a small portion of your dinner and take the rest home... this saves on money, plus, restaurant foods are often high cal. And I don't know about you, but sometimes I compare how I'm eating to the people I'm going out with, and that's not always a good thing... because if they're eating tons of fattening stuff, it becomes okay for me to eat tons of NONfattening stuff, or SOME fattening stuff. I have to stick to what works for me no matter how relative things are.
Okay that's all for now. If any of you have any other suggestions, please let me know!