Eating happily and staying at a healthy weight for life remains a mystery for more than a majority of Americans. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of books and magazines and companies trying to make money off our need to know how to accomplish what should be a simple task.
I’m here to tell you it is a simple task. You do not, and should not, need to embrace a complicated diet. And while exercise is important for a healthy body, it is not necessary for maintaining a healthy body weight. Body weight is a very basic result of mathematics. Calories in versus calories burned. That’s it.
I was overweight for some of my childhood and some of my early twenties. I tried many methods to lose weight, including restricting my caloric intake and exercising daily. Nothing really worked until I finally figured out how to make friends with my food. Yes, make friends.
I have a simple concept. There are foods that our bodies were designed to take in and nourish us and there are foods that were processed in a factory that our bodies have no idea what to do with. The former is what will create health and wellness in addition to a healthy body weight. But therein lies the problem for many of us. Most Americans are so accustomed to highly processed, salted and preserved foods that natural foods like fruits, vegetables and grains taste just so, well, boring.
Step one toward making a change in your relationship with food is acknowledging that your body does not want, nor know what to do with, almost everything that is offered in the center aisles of any grocery store. Nearly anything in a box, bag or can is going to cause your body some sort of confusion. But, food is supposed to be enjoyable as well. So, step two is to begin a search for flavor. Flavor is the key to everything. Find big, bold flavors you love and use them liberally. If you love garlic, then use BOWLS of garlic when you saute your spinach. If you love honey mustard, then dip your carrot sticks right on into it. If you love spicy hot peppers, then add them to EVERYTHING. Keep experimenting. NEVER eat something you don’t truly enjoy. And NEVER make drastic changes. If you are attempting to change what you eat, do so gradually, making small adjustments over several weeks.
You must be kind to yourself. Over time, you will find more and more meals and snacks that you love. Stay focused on keeping these foods simple, close to their natural state (not processed), and rich with the flavors you love, and you will have found the key to balancing your body weight.
And remember, just because American restaurants tell you that it is normal to eat a three-course meal…it’s not. Your stomach is only the size of your fist. Think about that.
Eat every time you are hungry. Never eat when you are not. Stop when you are full. And enjoy!