This is the simplest part of healthy eating to understand but it is a very difficult transition for many. Anything other than water has a good chance of being a problem. Soda, coffee, fruit drinks, beer and alcoholic drinks have a high number of refined carbohydrates. Everyone is conditioned by TV and a never-ending string of advertisements to consume drinks that are loaded with “bad” carbohydrates. But water is the best liquid you can consume. And it should be consumed in large quantities. One ounce for every two pounds of body weight. This is the minimum. If you weigh 180 pounds, you should drink three quarts per day.
Did you know that your body is composed of more than 75% water? That is why it is so important to keep drinking it. Don’t forget. The worst thing you can do is to sit in front of the TV with a beer or soft drink and a bag of chips or popcorn. No one says it will taste bad, it is just the worst way to assure that you will never lose weight. There is no middle ground. If you eat the wrong foods, there is only one possible outcome. You have a choice.
There are a few very good reasons to eat smaller meals with frequent snacks. The smaller the meal the smaller the insulin response. Your blood sugar level doesn’t roller coaster (fewer cravings to fight). If the meal is smaller, there is less stress on the digestive system. The goal is to have a steady blood sugar level. Small meals with
frequent snacks is the road to follow.
It is best if you have protein at each meal. This is very important because protein is digested more slowly than carbohydrates. The trick is that by eating protein with carbohydrates you slow down the absorption of the carbohydrates into the bloodstream. This will lead to less insulin production. The less insulin produced the lower the odds of having the carbohydrates stored as fat. This is the secret. Slow down carbohydrate absorption and lose weight. It is best to eat protein frequently; 2-4 ounces at each meal. If you are having a snack, don’t do the coke and chip thing.
How about some cheese (protein) with an apple?
Good protein choices include white meats such as turkey and chicken, fish, low fat cottage cheese, eggs, lean beef (under 15% fat), lean ham, lean pork, and low fat cheese. Avoid frying and don’t overcook your meats because they will lose their nutritional value.
Fat is not the bad guy in our story. Olive oil, sesame seed oil, or even butter are not bad for you. You must avoid all hydrogenated oils such as margarine. Your body can’t handle them. Eat all the avocados or raw nuts you want. Eating fat has certain advantages. Like protein it is digested more slowly than carbohydrates. It doesn’t jump start your pancreas to secrete insulin. It is a great way to slow down the digestion of carbohydrates. That is why it is important for all meals to have a balance between carbohydrates, fats and proteins. It is the best way to introduce food into your system.
If you can think of food as something to eat not just for pleasure but as a way to control your weight and improve your energy throughout the day, then you will see the importance of eating carbohydrates, fats and proteins at each meal, and hopefully with each snack. It is the system for success. One of the other benefits of fat is that they send a chemical message to the brain. This message slows down the movement of food out of your stomach.
You feel more full than if you had loaded up on a ton of carbohydrates. But don’t forget you must choose your fats wisely. Fried or processed foods do not work.
Favorable carbohydrates include asparagus, green beans, broccoli, mushrooms, spinach and squash. Some fruits that fall in the favorable category are apples, berries, oranges, peaches, and pears. These are sweet and should probably be eaten with some protein to slow down their absorption. Some vegetables such as carrots and corn are less favorable as they are high in starch and sugars. Grains are also carbohydrates. Their use should be limited. Unrefined grains or sprouted grains will trigger less of a response than store bought processed breads. It is important to sty away from white bread, muffins, cookies, candies, white rice, rice crackers, and pasta. They are the worst things you can eat. Why? They are processed. They are very easily digested. This means the carbohydrates are broken down and digested quickly.
The simple sugars pour into your blood stream and are gobbled up by the insulin that is released by the pancreas. They are converted to fat. You gain weight and now you are craving more and more of the same. This is the vicious cycle of weight gain that must be broken. And it does not help that there is a potato chip or candy bar ad on TV every 5 minutes, the grocery store is loaded with cookies, candies and cereal that make your mouth water, and there is a donut store on what seems like every corner. This is what you are up against.
The American diet has been bombarded with junk food. We are swimming in a sea of these bad carbohydrates and they are easy to get “addicted” to. If you can’t break the junk food carbohydrate cycle, you can’t prevent these carbohydrates from being converted to fat. You can eat some unprocessed rye, brown rice, or rolled oats to give you variety. Your meals must be built around good carbohydrates, protein and fats.
Craving carbohydrates shows that you have a diet imbalance. Pay attention to these cravings. If they diminish, it is a sign of progress. Keep in mind that this is a hard battle to fight. Nutritional supplements are available to help you get over the hump. It is bet to eat carbohydrates late in the day. If you start early, you might end up fighting the urge to splurge all day long.
Cottage cheese and plain yogurt are good sources of fat and protein. Goat and sheep cheeses are great alternatives to milk products if you are allergic to cow’s milk. Cheeses are an excellent source of protein for snacks. Ice cream is a no-no. Just too much sugar which will cause your carbohydrate ratio to be all wrong.
Whenever possible it is best to buy organically grown produce, meat and dairy products from animals raised on organic farms. These products are higher in nutrients and are free of chemical fertilizers, insecticide residues, and added hormones, all of which have been shown to to detrimental to healthy living.