“But it’s nuts!” –The importance of educating yourself on the food you are eating.
A few weeks ago I was on a road trip with some girl friends and we stopped at a convenience store. One of them picked up a bag of nuts to munch on, I don’t remember what kind of nuts, but it was about about a $5 bag and I’d eyeball it at 5-6 handfuls. We resumed our road trip and she took over driving while snacking on her nuts. I eventually couldn’t help myself and reached for my own helping of nuts. They were good. I wanted more. So I picked up the whole bag and read the label to see what was up with these good nuts. The calories were insane. This tiny bag of nuts had almost double the amount of calories that the typical female even needs in a day. I really didn’t want to be that girl, “Ohmygawd, do you know how many calories are in this???” But she asked. So I kindly told her. And she said,
“But it’s nuts! Nuts are good for you!”
A really common misconception is that “good” calories (nuts) aren’t as detrimental to your weight as “bad” calories (ice cream). The unfortunate reality is that a calorie is a calorie. A “good” nutritious calorie will keep you fuller longer, give you more energy and probably provide a better mental state but at the end of the day consuming too many calories of ANYTHING will still make you gain pounds. You could eat a pint of icecream a day and lose weight rapidly. You would feel awful but you’d lose weight because a pint of ice cream has roughly 600 calories. An average weight maintenance calorie amount is 2000 calories so eating 600 calories a day would put you at a major deficit even though yes, it’s icecream.
On the flip side–you could eat 4000 nutritious calories of organic lean meats, fresh vegetables and whole wheat pasta a day and gain weight rapidly. Once again, average weight maintenance is 2000 calories and even though these foods are great for you a calorie is a calorie and that’s 2000 calories too many.
Now, do NOT get me wrong. I would never ever in a million years endorse “the icecream diet” to lose weight. I am simply using these as extreme examples to prove a point.
One of the most monumental commitments you can make to create a healthier version is to educate yourself on the food you are consuming. Read labels. I repeat, READ LABELS. Be realistic with yourself about how many servings you are eating. The healthy mid-morning snack of apples and peanut butter could easily be a 500 calorie snack. The same goes for that healthy lunch salad you packed because let me tell you, salad dressing adds up annoyingly quick. Cheese and alcohol are my biggest struggle. I indulge in both but I do it sparingly and often use them as “rewards”. You have to be vigilant and it’s actually a lot of work and very time consuming.
I have a pack of measuring cups I use at almost every meal to measure portions. If I’m ever unsure then I overestimate the portion of what I’m eating because hey, better safe than sorry. Utilize Google. You can Google almost any mainstream menu item to get the calories quick. I will sit in a drive thru and speed Google things like STARBUCKS MOCHA FRAP GRANDE CALORIES or CHIK FIL A SANDWICH CALORIES and it will come up instantly. I know I’ve mentioned it before but MyFitnessPal is an amazing food diary app and I religiously log my meals on it.
The ultimate diet is one that aligns with your calorie goal AND keeps you feeling energized and full. This should be your focus. I promise you guys this is actually possible. Protein is so important (See 5 Delicious and Versatile Ingredients to Increase Protein in Your Diet) because it fills you up and keeps your body going longer. Calorie counting isn’t a long term solution for everybody but anybody looking for that first step in the whirlwind of diet advice out there then this is my piece for you. Start by making yourself aware of how much you’re really eating and drinking.
Finding this balance is a challenge every single day. Throw in two kiddos and a husband that loves his red meat and potatoes and it seems impossible for me sometimes. In the end, it’s all just part of the journey. I love referring to this as a “journey” because I feel like that indicates infinite challenge, change and effort. Do not expect for this journey to ever be easy but trust me when I say it gets easier. Reading labels and portion control does eventually become a second nature. Seeing and feeling physical results helps tremendously and if you stay conscientious of these things it truly will not take long to get that.
With that said, have a beautiful weekend my fellow readers! My little family and I are off the grid for the weekend enjoying some quiet time and beautiful weather in the country. Until next time…