(Most of you who are familiar with me have heard me wax on about these things before, but I thought I'd share for the benefit of the many newbies who've come on board and also for my OWN benefit as I mention at the end.)
There is no magic out there.
Everytime someone comes along and claims a certain product or a certain new diet is the be-all, end-all my first response is to be HIGHLY SUSPICIOUS and SKEPTICAL:
Um...if this works so well, don't you suppose the media would be blasting away from every radio station, magazine, tv show, etc about the WONDERS of this product? Wouldn't EVERYONE be doing this and MOST OF ALL:
Wouldn't obesity disappear off the face of the PLANET?!? There is NOBODY who would *volunteer* to be obese! Stigma against obesity is so great that people would rather be mentally ill or a criminal than to be obese!
There also is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to building a healthy lifestyle. We all have to find a path that works for ourself.
There are some general guidelines that work, in my opinion, for all. My go-to food guru is Michael Pollan and his Food Rules. EVERYTHING he's written is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, but Food Rules is the most consise, to the point, plain English, common sense approach to eating ANYWHERE!
Here is a great article which describes the approach, which is basically:
Eat food, mostly plants, not too much.
Can you get any simpler? :-)
Some other corrolaries? Avoid highly processed foods. Avoid foods that come in a box. Avoid foods that have more than 5 ingredients or ingredients with names you cannot pronounce. Avoid foods that have been advertised. Avoid foods that your grandmother would not recognize as foods.
In other words get back to basics. Prepare your own food. Avoid commercially prepared ANYTHING.
The other important aspect of food? Quantity! We can be making the HIGHEST QUALITY food choices...but if we eat too much? You won't lose weight and might yet gain as well! How do we monitor quanitity?
Use the SparkPeople Food Tracker!
I was slow to come around to the power of this tool (or other forms of logging / tracking my food), and am guilty of having fallen off the wagon this past holiday season and am paying the consequences now! Today, for the first time, I was OBSESSING with the food tracker in preparing for a meal I was having out with others at Red Lobster tonight. I cut way back on my food earlier in the day. Looked up Red Lobster recipes shared in the food tracker to get an idea how much "damage" they would contain. I knew enough to avoid those cheesey biscuits...highly processed carbie foods wake up my inner voracious carbie tiger that can NEVER be satisfied! I also knew I would not choose any deep fried or oopy-goopy cheesey main course. I settled on Seafood Stuffed Flounder, broccoli, tossed salad with balsamic vinaigrette and water with a lemon wedge. Later tonight I had a bowl of my 15 bean soup. All for a total of 737 calories! It was the first time I tracked a meal before I ate it! Makes it REAL TOUGH to backpedal and change one's mind once you've logged it into the tracker! AND it was delicious and I felt nicely "full" and satisfied afterward.
Another point, for those of us "food addicts:"
Learn your trigger foods. You know, the foods that are "radioactive" such that having one throws all restraint out the window and opens that bottomless pit inside that can NEVER be satisfied?
Be very mindful of these foods, respect their danger and take appropriate preventative steps. Initially I highly recommend removing them from your life. Why sabotage yourself? Over time we can attempt to build psychological muscle which can allow us to gradually reintroduce our trigger foods in a very careful, controlled manner. However I will say that is a risky proposition and I will also admit that I have not been successful in doing this. I have known others who have succeeded in their pursuits and my hat's off to them for being able to do this. I am not there yet and don't know if I can EVER allow my trigger foods into my life in a moderate way.
But who knows?
Sorry to go on and on...but I'm finding it helpful to ME TOO by reviewing for myself "what works" as a form of re-dedication to myself and living a SPARKED LIFE!