You might assume that eating healthy means you will never gain weight and you will shed those pounds easily. Now yes of course eating healthy will definitely help you in so many ways like having better energy levels, better skin and general health; but you can still struggle to lose the extra weight despite your choice of salad instead of a plate of French fries for lunch if you are using the “eating healthy” excuse to indulge.
Many people think “well raw nuts are very healthy, I can keep snacking on them instead of those crackers”. Yes, the nutritional value in raw nuts is much better than those crackers but they are still packed with calories. One major problem—that I see my clients struggle with —is that so many healthy or weight-loss programs that they have done in the past minimize the role of calories in food and fail to help them learn balance and moderation. They seldom focus on changing the habits of the person and just focus on the dogmatic food choice of what to eat and what not to eat. As Charles Duhigg said in his book The Power of Habit; “Rather, to change a habit, you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine.”Both aspects – learning about food choices and changing mindless snacking habits – are important and work synergistically to not only help you lose weight but to turn it into a lifestyle which becomes the new you. I will discuss a couple of points where you can make use of to be more careful with your habits and choices:
1 || It is not a food spree!
When food is nutritious and healthy; it is usually calorie dense due to its rich nutritional value, therefore you will be adding hundreds of calories to your day without realizing when you snack irresponsibly on dried fruits or raw nuts. Most healthier, lighter foods don’t have this effect and are easier to control. But if you’ve struggled with bad food habits such as eating when you are bored or picking up junk food on the way back home from work, choosing healthier foods is only half the battle. Eating healthier doesn’t mean it will diminish your cravings to snack on something flavorful. It’s common to replace junk foods with nut butters, granola, quinoa chips, and healthier dessert options like date balls or cakes made with honey instead of sugar. These foods do have healthier ingredients, yet they’re calorie dense and can sabotage your weight loss goals.
2 || Eat your veggies
A diet rich in vegetables can lower blood pressure, reduce risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower risk of eye and digestive problems, and have a positive effect upon blood sugar which can help keep appetite in check. In addition to all that, the fiber and water content will fill you up.
Eat a variety of types and colors of vegetables in order to give your body the mix of nutrients it needs. Try dark leafy greens; brightly colored red, yellow and orange vegetables.
The key to healthy eating, and achieving and maintaining a weight you’re happy with, is a balance between high-calorie and low-calorie foods. Therefore, it’s crucial that your diet is abundant with vegetables. However, you need to be careful – if you eat only salads and skimp on the fat and protein, you’ll probably feel unsatisfied and either give up altogether or find yourself over eating and ruining all your efforts.
I would start my meal with a nice bowl of salad, to give my body the vitamins and nutrients it needs, and to tame my hunger so I can eat a reasonable quantity of the main meal.
3 || Macro-imbalance
I get so many clients that have failed to lose weight because they decide to remove a macro-nutrient from their diet; that is usually either carbohydrates or fats. Low carbohydrate diets can help you lose weight temporarily but you will unfortunately put on back the weight very quickly. Same with high fat diets; they are very healthy and satisfying but fats pose a challenge when your goal is not just healthy eating but also weight loss. Having too many healthy fats can slow your weight-loss progress because they are calorie dense. You need to find the right balance between fats, protein, and carbohydrates. Fats will make you feel satisfied, so instead of loading up on them with abandon, use them wisely to accompany foods that have fewer calories like fruits, vegetables, beans, and lean proteins. Unless you have a health issue like diabetes or high cholesterol then you need to discuss your macronutrient balance in your diet with your nutritionist.
4 || Too much “healthy” processed food
Granola, trail mix, roasted peanuts, protein bars; all of these packaged foods can be organic and healthier than other options but they are still calorie dense and can be packed with sugar. When you see these allegedly healthy foods you think to yourself “it won’t make me gain weight so I might as well indulge and have two of those!”. Even if you try to make trail mix at home or your own granola you will realize how much honey or sweetness it has. I suggest limiting these snacks or treats to once or twice a week; this way you don’t have to eliminate them altogether and you will not feel deprived. Eating healthy is the way to live, but to maintain your ideal weight and make sure you stop yo-yo dieting, it has to be based on a balanced diet and moderation so that you teach yourself how to eat the foods you love as part of your weight maintenance regimen.
Zein Nimri is an AFPA certified sports nutritionist, NESTA kids nutritionist, long distance runner, cyclist and traveller with big dreams. Follow her on Instagram @Zeinutritionist