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Monday, April 15, 2013

N is for Nutrition

Last HarvestOne of the things I'm struggling with is weight loss. I should preface all of this by saying that all of my "I need to lose weight" comments are based on the fact that my doctor has told me to lose weight. My weight loss goal is based on what my doctor says is a healthy weight for me.

While my doctor thinks the primary reason is my need to exercise more (and I don't dispute that- but I also haven't seen results from exercise), I've also been looking at nutrition. I am pretty anti-diet. I've just met too many people who go on diets, especially fad diets, and temporarily lose the weight, but mostly gain it back. Plus, I really don't want to live that restrictive of a lifestyle. Both my doctor and nutritionist think that my diet is fine, and I know that my caloric intake is in the range of what it should be to lose weight.

That said, I know I can do better diet wise. And while so far, it has not helped me lose weight, I have learned some good things about nutrition that will get me closer to my goal. Even if I never lose the weight, I know that diet-wise, I will be healthier because of my nutritional choices. One of my friends commented that I am her nutrition example, because she's also trying to lose weight.

Here are my nutrition tips that she said really help her:

  • Always add an extra vegetable. Our diet in America is so vegetable poor. So I made a point, that in every recipe, if it calls for one vegetable, I always add two. If it doesn't make sense to add an extra vegetable, I double the amount of the single vegetable. More veggies = more vitamins!

  • Add protein. This might just be a diet issue I personally have. Back when I tracked calories (I don't anymore, because I naturally eat within a good calorie range), I realized that the area that was always low was protein. I realized that when I'm eating on the go, or snacking, I almost always reach for carbs or fruits and veggies. I wasn't getting enough protein. So now, if I want a snack, I always look for something with protein in it. I also make sure every meal has a decent amount of protein.

  • Eat the best food first. When I start to feel full, and I have a lot of food left on my plate, I ask myself this question, "which of the foods left on my plate has the most nutrients I still need today?" Some days, that's protein, so I eat the protein, other days, it's the vegetable, so I eat the vegetable. If I still feel a little hungry, I eat the next most healthy thing. When I am full, regardless of how much food I have left, I stop eating.

  • Think about leftovers. If you grew up in the clean plate club like I did, think about how you can use the food you didn't eat for another meal. Sometimes, when I am deciding what to eat more or less of, I will choose the item that I can't eat for lunch tomorrow. I am notorious for going out to eat with the intention of taking food home for lunch the next day. If I know that one meal will actually be two, I won't eat as much.

  • Water. I actually hate plain water. However, I am convinced that part of my weight gain started when I started drinking water with the little flavor packets in them. I don't care that they say zero calories. I gained weight in a nightmarish way and I can't get it off. There are nasty chemicals in those things. Throw them away! However, since I hate plain water, I needed something to make it palatable. I do two things. One, I add lemon or lime juice to all of my water. It give it a little flavor, plus extra nutrients. Two, I drink tea. Now, I know that cup one is full tea and doesn't technically count as water. But then, I re-steep that tea ALL day. So by the time I'm on cups 3, 4, 5, and on (yes, I drink that much tea), it's really glorified flavored water and the caffeine and bad stuff is gone. I DO NOT ADD sweetener. I wouldn't make it as a Southerner.

  • Breakfast. I used to be firmly in the "don't make me eat breakfast" club. It took a while to get used to, but now that I make breakfast a priority, I've found that I get less hungry during the day and make better food choices. My ideal breakfast (I'm still working on doing this every day, but I feel best on days I do this) consists of protein, a complex carb (if I omit the carb, I'm hungry by 10 am), and some kind of fruit or vegetable.

Those are the tips that have worked for me. Like I said, I'm still trying to lose the weight, but I think if I weren't doing these things, I'd probably weigh more. Our bodies need good nutrition. My focus isn't on going on a diet, but on having good nutrition and taking care of my body.

What nutritional tips work for you?


Becky Daye said...

Great tips, Danica! I will be working on this in just a few short weeks- after my baby is born!
Love your writing!!!

DanicaFavorite said...

Thanks Becky! I'm glad you enjoy it.