You’ve probably heard it a million times: calories-in vs. calories-out is the magical weight loss equation. But we all know how daunting and unpractical tracking calories can feel, and recent research shows the method to be about 25% inaccurate. If fat loss and or muscle gain are part of your health and wellness goals, you need to know two important concepts : 1.) Mindful eating practices and 2.) quality over quantity. Both are simple and the key is building the habits. Habits create results.
EFFECTIVE MINDFUL EATING PRACTICES
- Paying attention to the physical feelings of hunger. Are you physiologically hungry and actually in need of nutrition? Or are you psychologically hungry and experiencing cravings of food because you're thirsty, stressed, or bored?
- Identifying cravings. This is your body communicating with you, possibly indicating that you need a specific nutrient. Example: Craving salty foods like pickles or chips could mean you need to replenish sodium and/or electrolytes. Try adding ConcenTrace Mineral drops to your water, or make your own kale chips for a healthy snack. Craving onions could mean you need more sulfur in your diet for liver function. Chocolate cravings often indicate that your body is deficient in magnesium, which is a common deficiency. You can try adding mineral drops to your water, or if you’d prefer statisfying your chocolate sweettooth, try adding cocoa powder to your smoothie or a moderate amount of dark chocolate.
- Sensation of fullness. Fullness is also known as satiety. Including fiber, balanced protein, and healthy fats in your meals and snacks will help you feel full after eating.
- Taste satisfaction. Enjoying the food you eat is important for your body to get the most nutrition for your cells. Clean eating doesn’t have to be boring! Explore new spices, fresh herbs and seasonings. New recipes will excite your meal planning.
- Gratitude. Take a moment before you consume your meal to think what it took to get from farm to table. It is recommended we chew our food 20-30 times before swallowing. Focus on feeling satisfied about how you have chosen to fuel your body.
QUALITY VS. QUANTITY
Introducing the Simple Six meal plan, involving 3 meals and 2-3 snacks per day. This comes from the online support group Strong Confident Living, whose main focus is on eating quality, nutritionally-dense foods and making sure we look ahead throughout the day and week to plan accordingly. For portioning your proteins, carbohydrates, and fats per meal we suggest using your hands for reference instead of a scale.
Generally speaking, a serving of protein is the size of your palm. A serving of vegetables is the size of your fist. A serving of carbohydrates is one cupped hand. Lastly, a serving of healthy fats is the size of your thumb. Men and women nutritional demands vary for many reasons. Most men can have two servings of protein, two servings of veggies and one serving of the other food groups per meal. Another important concept: choose colorful whole foods fresh from the farmers market or grocery store to build your meals.
Try adding a serving of healthy fat and protein to your usual snack to provide a sensation of fullness. Add almond butter to a quarter of an apple or banana, combine almonds with cottage cheese, or mix quinoa and diced almonds with roasted beets.
Seems easy, right? Eating clean and understanding what and why is easy. Actually following through consistently seems to be the more challenging part. In summary, pay attention to the words and thoughts you have about nutrition. Awareness is 80% of the change.
References: 1. Daubenmier J, Kristeller J, Hecht FM et al. Mindfulness Intervention for Stress Eating to Reduce Cortisol and Abdominal Fat among Overweight and Obese Women: An Exploratory Randomized Controlled Study. J Obes 2011;2011:651936. doi: 10.1155/2011/651936 2. http://www.precisionnutrition.