Most people who set out a plan to lose weight know the feeling of intense hunger. It happens not only because we’re limiting calories, but also because our body is craving certain unhealthy foods that have become part of an addictive cycle.
The good news is, changing to healthy eating habits and losing weight does not have to mean starving yourself or getting stuck with a very limiting diet plan.
If you don’t have a lot of nutritional knowledge, it’s time to get educated.
Here’s a general formula for how to eat for healthy weight loss.
Make it about lean and nutritious protein.
Protein feeds our muscles, including our brain. Choose healthy protein at each meal, but especially when you’re feeling stressed and ravenous.
Lean meat sources of protein include chicken, white meat pork, fish of all kinds, turkey breast.
Protein also comes in meatless forms such as egg, nuts, beans and legumes, and low-fat dairy.
Your portion of protein should be about the size of your palm and no bigger. Be sure to chew thoroughly and focus on mindful eating. You will be able to slow down, get better at reading your body signals and know when you have had enough.
Include healthy vegetables every time you eat protein. You may not be used to it, but veggies can even be enjoyed at breakfast time. Think side salad with your egg, omelette made of egg white, lean turkey breast broccoli and a bit of cheese.
If you’re not used to having a veggie snack multiple times per day, make it a habit to stock your fridge and food prep once per week.
You’ll be able to just grab what you need, like carrot and celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices and other favorites to take with you and help you stay committed to your new eating plan.
Get carb conscious.
Unhealthy carbs lurk in your favorite foods and snacks. They’re used as a tasty, empty calorie filler to keep you craving these. For food companies, this is all about keeping costs low and creating big profits.
Avoid these carbed-up foods if you’re looking to lose weight:
- White bread, pasta, rice, cereal, and bakery goods made with processed white flour.
- Sweet snacks of all kinds. This includes things like flavored yogurt, granola bars, store bought muffins and foods that are billed as healthy but actually are loaded with carbs.
- Jarred and prepared foods that taste delicious but have hidden sugar and undesirable additives.
- Things like prepared soups, sauces, boxed convenience foods, and bottled condiments. These are often loaded with sugar, salt and other unwanted ingredients that cause us to gain weight and can contribute to our development of chronic disease as we age.
You’ll also want to cut back on or eliminate the following:
- Saturated fat. The low-fat way is no longer the right way, but even so it’s important to choose the right kind of fat that’s going to get your blood work into a positive range. (See below for ideas.)
- Severely limit hot dogs and other processed fatty meats. Trade big servings of cheese, butter and commercial frying oil for healthier fats.
(Did you know that french fries and chicken nuggets are fried in oil that isn’t good for us when consumed in great amounts?)
Extra virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds and nut oils of all kinds, and deep sea fish like tuna and salmon all provide a source of healthy fat to keep your body in balance.
Replace white bread, white rice and white pasta with whole-grain versions.
Also find an appetite for hearty whole grains cooked on the stove top with delicious healthy additions like garlic, onions, veggies and spices that are good for you. These are called complex carbs as opposed to simple carbs like white bread and white rice, which have the fiber removed.
Fiber is present in whole grains, and fruits and vegetables of all kinds. It is a necessary component to healthy digestion and can help you have a flatter belly.
Good digestion also keeps your energy levels up and revs up your metabolism so you’ll be burning more calories. Imagine that, eating for weight loss, now this is a great concept… and if you choose the right foods, it really works.
What about fruit? Some people say that you should avoid eating fruit when you’re trying to lose weight because of the high amounts of sugar, even if it is natural sugar.
Fruit is an important part of our diet and provides enzymes to the body to help you process other foods. We also get energy from the naturally occurring glucose in fruit.
Better to limit your portions of fruit than deny yourself fruit entirely. Keeping fruit in your life while changing your eating habits might actually prevent you from going off the rails and having a junk food sugar binge.
Focus on halving your fruit portions and only having a small serving of fruit maybe two or three times a day.
Look for the fruits that are less sweet, including berries and citrus. These also help you digest.