Ok. You’ve read Part 1 and realize your health/weight struggles are NOT all your fault.
What a relief!
You know the crappy, unhealthy foods like pizza, potato chips, baked goods, rich sauces and ice cream are…
-too calorically dense (has too many calories)
-too artificially concentrated with sugar, fat and/or salt
-everywhere in our environment
You know the odds are stacked against you.
You know things can get tough and sometimes you want to give up. Those of us that keep trying to eat better and lose weight are right beside you. Please know, you are NOT alone!
But…you’ve decided you WILL NOT GIVE UP!
You will NOT let those foods unleash any permanent power over you.
Like me, you want to fight back. You want to fight back against the unhealthy, crappy foods that keep luring you into their body-damaging, fat-cell-producing world.
What are we Fighting?
We need to arm ourselves to fight against the carefully designed, created and marketed food that shows its ugly face everywhere.
We need to arm ourselves to resist the highly prolific world of fat, sugar and salt.
We need to be on guard, especially, for the sneaky ones…the addictive-like, rich combinations of…
–fat and salt (potato chips, cheese, rich sauces, deep fried food)
–fat and sugar (desserts, cakes, cookies, ice cream, baked goods)
–salt and sugar (salted caramel syrups/toppings)
–fat and sugar and salt…the triple threat (salted caramel popcorn, ice cream flavours with salted treats)
That’s a lot of food waiting to attack. We need to use mighty weapons to fight back, and willpower is not one of them. Willpower often runs out of steam in the long run.
How do we arm ourselves in this insanely crazy food world that surrounds us?
Create Rules Decide you will not, under any circumstances, bring crappy food into your house. If you find yourself in a restaurant or at someone’s home, you may or may not be able to resist the power of unhealthy foods, but you can decide you will NOT sabotage yourself by bringing it into your house. You CAN control the environment in your home. A couple of weeks ago, there were potato chips and a super-yummy dip in my kitchen. The kind of dip I can’t stop eating. Mmmmm….The odds of me eating it were high. It was right there, steps away. I held off for about an hour. Then I dove in. What if those chips and dip hadn’t been there? If they weren’t in my kitchen, I wouldn’t have eaten them. I would not have jumped in my car to go buy some. Although it is possible to get in your car and drive to the store to buy what you crave, we are MUCH less likely to eat the crap if it is not in our home.
Keeping crap out of your house is an example of a rule that is one of the easier ones to follow. Why is it easy? If you don’t buy it, it won’t be in your house. If you have a hard time resisting chips, cookies etc. while shopping, ask someone you trust to shop with you, to help keep you on track.
Now, if you don’t do the grocery shopping, that can be trickier. Sit down with the person who does buy the groceries, and other family members, and ask them to keep the unhealthy foods outside of the house. If they give you a hard time, ask for even just a month to help you get going on a healthier path, more consistently.
Even if you do buy the groceries, ask family members to please enjoy the unhealthier foods outside the house, at least until you can get a handle on things. Avoid hosting any parties/dinners in your home for 30 days to help you get on track, as well.
No Food Before Bed This is an example of another rule. Avoid filling your stomach with any food before bed. Some say you shouldn’t eat 2 hours before bed. Others say 3 hours or 5 hours. Give your body a chance to digest your food, so when you sleep, your body can do what it is supposed to do…repair and maintain. Based on your own schedule, your rule might be: No eating after 6 p.m. Only liquids like tea or water after those times. Is that doable? If you think it might be tough, work on the next tip to help you achieve a light belly before bed.
Eating Window A similar rule is you eat only during an 8-12 hour window. If you eat breakfast at 9:00 a.m., and you decide on a 10-hour window, then your last meal needs to come at or before 7:00 p.m. Maybe 10 hours is too difficult? Try 12-hour windows for a week, then move down to 11.5 hours, then to 11 and so on. Whatever it is, start with a window that works for you, and ease into making your eating window shorter. I’ve started to track my eating windows, and I notice how much better I feel when I eat at 5:00 p.m. and go to bed at 10:00 p.m. I haven’t mastered this yet, but I see the benefits and want to work on this habit.
Don’t go crazy here…keep the eating window no shorter than 6-8 hours. You still need to get in enough calories for your body each day, and you want this way of monitoring your eating, called intermittent eating, to be sustainable over time. If you shave your eating hours down to 6 hours per day, over a month, and lose a bunch of weight, what happens when you go back to a 12-hour eating window? Take it slow and let the weight come off slowly; you’re more likely to keep it off if you do so. Work towards and establish an eating window you can live with most of the time. Aim to have your eating window 12 hours or less.
Have a Support System Whether it’s a close friend or a Facebook group, make connections with others who are in the same boat as you. Being able to talk to others who also struggle with food and their weight can be very helpful. It helps to know you ARE NOT the only one! If you don’t have a support system, you need to put on your armor and get out there! Find someone or a group of peeps you can relate to. Don’t ignore this crucial way to fight. This might be scary for you, but it is super important. Feel free to contact me for support.
Move When we move our bodies, we’re less likely to eat rich, unhealthy food. We also feel energized, and even inspired. Begin your day with a walk or make that a priority when you get home from work. A priority means you don’t dismiss it. A priority means you do it, no matter what. Do it BEFORE dinner, if making dinner throws off your plans. Figure out how to do it. Start small. Ten minutes of moving. Who can’t fit that in? If your health is important to you, you WILL fit it in.
Moving our bodies doesn’t have to be at the gym. It doesn’t have to be sprinting. Even simple yoga or stretching is a start. Maybe you can find a buddy to walk with you. If you have stairs in your home, maybe you commit to climbing them 5 times per day. Then 8 times per day, and so on. Find simple ways to move and then build from there. I like to walk and record the distance and the number of minutes it took me. Over time, I can see if I’m moving more quickly and easily. For others, it’s the distance they want to increase. Start with 1km. Then 1.5 and build up to 5 km. It takes me about 50 min. to walk 5 km now (depending on my pace). If I improve my fitness and increase my speed I could jog/run it in about 30 min.
Your goals need to work for you. Remember…baby steps can be your best friend because they allow you to feel a sense of accomplishment. Jumping in and deciding you’re going to run 10 km may not be best for your body, and you can end up sore and/or injured, making it likely you won’t continue. Keep it simple to start.
Education Learn how nutrient-poor, rich foods are damaging your body. Even though I veer off track now and again, for days or weeks, I eat well most of the time. Why? Because I know what the crappy food is doing to me based on what I’ve learned from books, documentaries and from how my own body responds to foods I eat. I’ve also earned a Plant-based Nutrition certificate from the ECornell program, which gave me incredible, science-based information. There are so many resources out there. Have a look at the books on my shop page. Also, check out the My Vegucation blog post to get more ideas on books and documentaries.
Once you learn about how fats/oils damage the endothelial lining of your arteries, for example, you start to realize what is actually happening inside your blood vessels minutes after you eat a cheeseburger, a piece of pizza or a piece of cheese. This is INSIDE YOUR body, not in some distant land. Once you discover how so many chronic and autoimmune diseases today are caused by what we put in our mouth, you begin to think about whether you want to eat white bread and white rice, or whole-grain bread or brown rice.
Even though everyone in our society seems to be eating unhealthy food, you start to realize that so many people are getting sick. You see how people’s bodies have seemed to deal with it all until they reach their 50’s or beyond. Then you see how it’s getting worse and people are getting diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases at younger ages than they used to. When you spend time researching the value of nutrient-rich foods and the dangers of nutrient-poor foods, you become empowered and look at your food choices differently.
Baby Steps Choose one type of food that’s an issue with you. Soft drinks or ice cream, for instance. Give it up for 2-4 weeks. Don’t worry about the other stuff. After 2-4 weeks, if you’ve ditched the soda pop or ice cream, look for something else you can get out of your diet, like cream in your coffee, or cookies.
Give up the bad things, one by one, over time. This can work for many people. And yes, I said “bad” things. Some people don’t want to call any foods “bad” and say they can have them once in a while. Beware: “all things in moderation” usually doesn’t work. If it did, we wouldn’t have a huge weight-loss industry. If people could moderate their intake of pizza, ice cream, donuts, potato chips etc. obesity wouldn’t exist.
If instead of moderation, you face the music and recognize what your food weaknesses are, you can make a decision to get them out of your life. You can work at giving up the food-like products that are really toxic to your body, and over time, you won’t want/crave them. If you eventually achieve your ideal weight, and then you want to dabble in those danger foods a bit, well, you’ll have to decide if it’s worth the risk of getting “hooked” again.
Cold Turkey On the other hand, baby steps won’t work for everyone. Some people need to go cold turkey. Make a big change, all at once. Eat clean and that’s it. Get the fat and sugar-laden foods out of your house and get the good stuff in. Prepare foods in advance and be ready to eat only healthy foods. Chop veggies ahead of time, so you can grab them and throw them in a pan to sauté and serve with rice and your favourite sauce. Even if the sauce isn’t perfectly healthy, if it helps you eat a bowl of healthy food, go for it. You can always transition away from the sauce later if it has too much fat or sugar.
Almost always, I have the following in my fridge: cooked grains (more than one type is ideal: rice, quinoa, cous cous, barley, oatmeal), cooked potatoes and/or yams (baked), cooked beans (from a can: black beans, white beans, kidney beans, chickpeas), fruit, and raw veggies ready to eat (snap peas, mini cucumbers, grape/cherry tomatoes). When I make dinner, I usually make enough so there are leftovers for someone’s lunch the next day, or for dinner the next day. This works especially well with chilis and soups. Make lots, so you have leftovers to eat or freeze. Try the cold turkey method and have ONLY healthy, ready-to go, clean foods in your fridge.
Snacks on the Go You’ve got to have healthy food at work or when you’re on the go. If you don’t, you’re really setting yourself up to surrender to one of the powerful foods like pizza or cookies. One of my favorite snacks is snap peas and grape/cherry tomatoes. So fresh and tasty. Another is a baked potato. I microwave it, cut it in half, add salt/pepper and wrap it in foil. Even if it’s only room temperature later, it satisfies me and prevents me from eating something I’d rather not. You can bake a bunch of potatoes at the beginning of the week and cut and wrap them in advance. Then, you just need to quickly unwrap one, microwave it and you’re ready to go.
When you leave the house, be prepared with a snack or two. Even if you think you’ll be out for an hour doing errands, sometimes that can turn into 2-3 hours. Be prepared. Apples and Mandarin oranges are quick and easy to grab and provide a juicy, refreshing snack. Prep your snacks in advance, or prepare for a growing waistline.
Be Kind to Yourself Avoid beating yourself up. The food’s doing that to you already! When you decide to indulge, do it. Choose indulgence only if you can do it without feeling guilty later. Eat the pizza and enjoy it. Roll around in bed with it, if you want. Eat the pizza and then get back on track as soon as you can. Don’t let the pizza rule you. YOU rule YOU. You are strong and can accomplish anything. This struggle with food and your weight doesn’t have to be forever. It’s just the way it is right now.
The above ideas are more than “tips”. They are specific weapons we can use to fight back against the lure of the crappy food and can help us take in more of the healthy food.
For me, I’m still struggling. I have about 40 lbs to lose.
I’d like to lose the weight to decrease my odds of getting a chronic disease.
I want to lose the weight to feel energetic and to be healthy.
I WILL accomplish my goal.
Even though I continue to have my ups and downs, I will NOT give up.
Please do not give up!
Say, “HELL NO!”, when you start to doubt yourself and when you start to speak horribly to yourself in the mirror.
Wishing you health and success on your journey,