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  1st Key - Eating

08/20/06

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We love to eat; we have to eat.

If you say that you donít love to eat, then you are lying to yourself. You have a favorite food, or at least foods that you like. How do you decide what youíre going to eat? You choose based on your likes and dislikes and what youíre ďin the moodĒ for. You may not love to eat, but you sure as hell like it a lot.

Eating is the problem with fat people. Most of us can push ourselves to get up and move around, but when it comes to food, we have to have it, literally. It would be so much easier if we didnít need food. We must have food to survive so we must face our biggest enemy daily. We canít just put food out of our minds; we canít just ignore food in the hopes that it will go away.

Since we must eat, we need to learn how to control food, not allow food to control us.

This becomes harder to do because ďbadĒ foods are so cheap. Letís look at something everyone loves - brownies. Go to your local supermarket and chances are you will see the same thing that I see; regular (by regular I mean loaded with calories, fat and chocolate) brownies are around $.99 - $1.50; now check out the low-carb, healthy brownies, they are usually around $4.99.

Those of us that fall into the lower to middle class income brackets usually have a set amount of money to be spent on food for a month and $5 brownies arenít in the budget.

Vegetables are usually cheap, but letís admit it; most of us donít like vegetables. We like the chocolate. We like stuff covered in cheese and chili and anything else you can pile on there that isnít green or leafy.

Another problem that many of us donít recognize is frozen foods. Itís much easier and cheaper to buy some frozen dinners and just throw them in the microwave. There is very little food, so we think that canít have that many calories. Wrong! Frozen dinners are loaded with calories and fat. They donít fill you up and you are usually end up eating again within a few hours. You basically just added to your calorie and fat intake for no reason. You even have to be careful about the types of frozen vegetables that you buy; this is where checking those labels come in handy. You have to check the labels to see if there are ďaddedĒ calories or fat, such as in ďcheese or butter saucesĒ. Here is a good experiment - the next time you are at a store, check the label for a frozen pizza (Tombstone or Red Barron Regular Size) and then multiply that by the number of servings in that pizza, that use to be my lunch.

Iím just like you guys, I donít want to live off of salads and carrot sticks and I refuse to do that. I thought that in order to lose weight I had to give up all of those wonderful foods that I love. The fact is any food can be worked into a healthy lifestyle.

My lifestyle probably will not work for you, but you can try what I do and then adapt it to fit your new healthy lifestyle.

I try to keep my calorie intake between 1,300 Ė 1,500 calories per day. Anything less than 1,000 for anyone is unhealthy. Allowing yourself anything less than 1,000 calories a day is basically starvation and starvation does not work, that is a proven fact.

Calories are not the only thing to worry about though; there are some high calorie foods that are very good for you, for example Ė peanut butter.

There are 12 ďpower foodsĒ which should be in your daily menu. The more of them you eat, the better your body will be able to increase lean muscle mass and avoid storing fat, of course this is where sensible eating comes in. Eating an entire jar of peanut putter for dinner is a bad idea. You should include two or three of these foods in each of your three major meals and at least one of them in each of your snacks.

Almonds and Other Nuts
These help to build muscle and fight cravings. Nuts are high in protein and monounsaturated fat.

Beans and Other Legumes
These help build muscle, burn fat and regulate digestion. They are low in fat and packed with protein, fiber and iron.

Spinach and Other Green Vegetables
Vegetables are a critical part of your body-changing diet. Spinach supplies a full day of Vitamin A and a half a dayís worth of Vitamin C in a single serving.

Dairy Products
Dairy is good for building strong bones and firing up weight loss. Be sure to go with the fat-free or low-fat.

Instant Oatmeal
Instant Oatmeal boost your energy and sex drive, reduces your cholesterol and helps maintain your blood sugar level.

Peanut Butter
Peanut Butter is packed with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that can increase your bodyís production of testosterone, which can help muscles grow and fat melt.

Eggs
Eggs are great for both building muscle and burning fat. The protein in eggs is more effective at building muscle that protein found in other sources. Eggs also contain Vitamin B12, which is necessary for fat breakdown. Eggs are high in cholesterol, so donít go out of control with them. More and more research shows that eating an egg or two a day will not raise your cholesterol levels.

Turkey and Other Lean Meats
Not only do these help build muscle, they help improve your immune system.

Olive Oil
Olive Oil helps lower your cholesterol and boost your immune system. It also helps control your cravings and burns fat.

Whole-Grain Breads and Cereals
Whole-grains help prevent your body from storing fat. Your body craves carbohydrates because your body needs them; the key is to eat the ones that have all their heart-healthy, belly-melting fiber intact. Whole-grain bread keeps insulin levels low, which keeps you from storing fat.

Extra-Protein (Whey) Powder
Whey protein contains essential amino acids that build muscle and burn fat. The powder is good because it has the highest amount of protein for the fewest number of calories.

Raspberries and Other Berries
Berries help protect your heart, enhance eyesight, improve memory and prevent cravings.

I usually eat 3 meals a day with 2 snacks in between. The key is to schedule yourself to be eating about every 2 Ė 3 hours; this helps control hunger. I was never a breakfast eater and that was one of my mistakes. You are always told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day for a reason, because itís true.

Eating first thing in the morning, at least within the first 30 minutes, gives your body energy and kick starts your metabolism. Another metabolism kick-starter is exercise, which is in the next section.

ďThe vast majority of obese people get at least half if not three-quarters of all their calories after 6 in the evening,Ē says Dr. Jay Kenney, R. D., Ph. D., nutrition research specialist at the Pritikin Longevity Center. Mr. Kenney also goes on to say ďwhen you eat less, your body will burn fewer calories in an attempt to minimize weight loss.Ē Your body doesnít care if your overweight or not, your body is trying to keep you from starving.

This was always my biggest problem. I would either starve myself or I would skip breakfast and lunch and eat everything at night, and I mean EVERYTHING.

This hurt me in other ways too. Any time you eat a large meal, your body puts out an excess of insulin which prevents your fat cells from releasing fatty acids into the bloodstream where they can be picked up by other tissues and burned. The less insulin you have, the more fatty acid your body will burn. Eating several small meals a day instead of a few large meals takes care of this.

I usually eat a bowl of cereal (no character cereal) with some skim milk. A cereal with a cartoon character usually isnít a good cereal for weight loss. I try to stick to cereal with flakes, some almonds and maybe even some fruit. Any cereal with the word ďbranĒ in it is usually good for you. The healthy cereals are usually on the top shelves, far from the eye level of sugar loving children. Those kid cereals may have the same amount of fat or calories but they are loaded with sugar and that is something to stay away from.

If you donít like cereal or milk, you can go with oatmeal or some peanut butter toast. Peanut butter is loaded with calories and fat, but its GOOD calories and fat. Iím not going into all the nutrient stuff because I really donít understand it myself. You can do research on the internet, read books or get your self a good health magazine; I recommend Menís Health or Womenís Health. I get Menís Health monthly and itís a great source of information.

Many people donít like to count calories but for me, counting calories is a huge part of my success. There are several online food journals that will help with this, I use www.fitday.com, and it basically does the work for you. Itís a good practice to keep track of everything that goes into your mouth throughout the day. Every chip or drink of soda should be written down. I always lied to myself; if I ate one potato chip, then I figured it didnít count because it wasnít enough calories to matter. The truth is that I was eating one potato chip, 20 times a day, which added about 150 calories to my daily count that I didnít keep track of. 

The journal should be kept for you, not anyone else. There is no point in lying about what you ate or how much exercise you did for a day because you are only lying to yourself. Keeping track of what you eat and how much exercise you did throughout a day allows you to find those little problems that are keeping you from losing weight. Itís usually the little things that make the biggest differences.

Itís also good to use your food journal to write down your feelings and thoughts for the day. Keep track of how often you go out to eat. You will be surprised at the number of times you spontaneously go through a drive through. A journal helps you take control of the situation and allows you to see that you are probably eating more than you realize.

A big part of controlling what you eat is using the nutrient labels that are on all foods. Donít just glance at the label and throw the food into the cart. Look at the label, read the label, understand the label. The more you do this, the more you will not have to do this. You will start learning how many calories are in certain foods. This helps when you canít read the labels, such as going out to eat or to a friendís for dinner. You will be able to look at the food and make a reasonable guess as to the calories, fats and carbohydrates that a food contains.

I try to break down my day as follows Ė
 
6:30 am Ė breakfast Ė 400 calories
10:00 am Ė snack Ė 100 calories
12:00 pm Ė lunch Ė 300 calories
3:00 pm Ė snack Ė 100 calories
5:00 pm Ė dinner Ė 300 calories
7:00 pm Ė snack Ė 100 calories

That is 1,300 calories; sometimes it goes up to 1,500 calories depending on what type of snacks I have. You can clearly see that I eat all day, it really does seem like Iím always eating and Iím never hungry. You will be hungry at first because your body is so use to eating so many calories, but once your body gets use to the new schedule, hunger is a thing of the past.

I try to have a snack around 10:00 am, which is usually a granola bar, a fruit and nut bar or a 100-calorie pack of something, which you can find at your local supermarket. There are several healthy, low calorie snacks out now and they are usually reasonably priced. Applesauce or a piece of fruit can be another great morning snack.

I eat my lunch around 12:00pm. A great food for lunch is tuna fish. Itís easy and has countless health benefits. I may eat a tuna fish sandwich on multi-grain bread, some light chips and a pickle. If you donít have time for good size lunch then you can get a quick mini-bag of popcorn, throw it in the microwave for about 3 minutes and munch on the go.

Some more ideas are a grilled chicken salad or a trip to your local subway for a 6-inch Chicken Teriyaki sub.

I have an afternoon snack around 3:00pm of usually fruit or a mini-bag of popcorn. When you're shopping for popcorn, remember that a regular bag of popcorn usually has around 3 servings. So if the box says its 100 calories per serving, a bag actually has 300 calories, this is why I look for the mini-bags; they are single servings.

One of my favorite things to have for dinner is grilled chicken, sugar snap peas with garlic and maybe some corn, peas or rice.

Then if Iím still hungry, Iíll have a small snack around 7:00 am while Iím watching some television. I usually have some kind of fruit or light ice cream. Then I do some exercise from 7:30 Ė 9:30, watch some television and head to bed.

The next few paragraphs are the most important aspect of controlling your food. Allow yourself to eat ANYTHING (control the amount) you want one day a week.

To most people, this sounds crazy; however, I have found that this is perfect for me. I watch what I eat 6 days a week and then on Sunday, I donít worry about counting calories and I eat one meal of whatever I want- hamburgers, hot dogs, Chinese food, fried chicken; it doesnít matter. Donít eat until you make yourself sick, but try to teach yourself to recognize that full feeling. You will gain a little bit, but this will keep your metabolism going strong and will allow you to burn more fat the next week.

If you eat 1,300 to 1,500 calories everyday, then your metabolism will adjust for that amount of calorie intake and it will take more exercise to keep burning the same amount of calories and fat. I have found that by allowing myself one day a week, I donít get frustrated with counting calories, I donít miss any food that I love and I keep my metabolism going strong.

If you are like me, then you love going out to eat. You can eat healthy at just about any restaurant that you choose to go to. The key is to do the research before hand. Most restaurants now have nutrient guides. Many restaurants offer healthy choices and even post the nutrients on the menus. If the restaurant doesnít offer these guides, then check out their web pages or do research on the net. A great website that I use is www.dietfacts.com; this web site has every type of restaurant that you could imagine. If you canít find the restaurant you are looking for, then try something close to it and try to make a reasonable guess.

As an example, lets take a restaurant that you wouldnít think could be healthy, Taco Bell. My fiancťe loves Taco Bell, so we eat there regularly. Itís not healthy but it is doable. I usually go with a three-taco meal, no cheese. Each taco is about 150 calories, which I found on www.tacobell.com. The cheese adds calories and fat but you usually canít even taste it, so take it off. Keep the lettuce as a filler and if you donít like the taste of lettuce, throw some taco sauce on there and it gives the lettuce that taco flavor and you canít even tell that your eating lettuce. Adjust the rest of your meals to allow this 450 calorie meal to fit into your calorie range.

Most people donít realize that a majority of their calorie intake comes from drinking sodas (ex. Pepsi, Mountain Dew or Dr. Pepper). Sodaís can contain as much as 170 calories per 12-ounce can. Those calories can add up quick. The best thing to do is stay away from regular sodaís and to limit the amount of diet soda that you drink. A lot of diet sodas are not good for you because of Aspthemine. If you choose to drink diet soda, look for the ones made with Splenda; Diet Rite is an excellent choice. 

The best drink for you is obviously water. There are ways of finding out how many ounces of water that your body needs per day but most of us hate water and Iím not going to drink 80 ounces of water a day. I push myself to drink one 20-ounce bottle of water before lunchtime and one after lunchtime. I drink another 20-ounce bottle during or after my workout. The more you drink water, the more you will actually start to crave it. Regular sodas start tasting like really sweet syrup after you havenít drank them for a while and you will get to the point that you drink only water because everything else just taste yucky. I have a diet soda from time to time but I stick mostly with water, itís not really a choice anymore, it just natural now.

A big part of eating healthy is doing the research and knowing what youíre eating. 

You only have one live and you should eat the foods that you love but if you control your intake of those foods, then you can both be healthy and enjoy food. Eating healthy is all about compromise.

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