While exercising and staying active is a huge part of a healthy lifestyle it’s not the only thing you need to do. Your body needs fuel to run well so it can keep up with the activity that you are putting it through.
now’s a perfect time for my disclaimer! I would like to say one thing before I start. This is what worked for me. I am not you…you are not me…everyone is different and that is what makes this a little tricky. Some of you may look at what I did and be all…”You’re cray cray! I’m never doing that!” Do what works for you. No one person’s diet is going to look exactly the same as someone else’s. I’m no doctor or nutritionist either. So please take what im saying with a grain of salt…its my opinion and nothing more. Got it? Cool.
Our body’s are not made to survive and thrive on no food. It just doesn’t work that way. They are also not made to survive in crappy food. You’ve got to give your body food…but not just any ole food. It needs to be good food! Food that makes your body run well…in the right quantities. I mean you could work out like crazy all the time whilst eating horribly all the time. But I bet at some point your body will revolt on you in some way shape or form.
I would say when I started this journey I ate OK. Not horribly but not awesome either. I don’t think it was what I ate that gave me issues…it was how much I ate and why I ate it. So lets look at those two things.
My portions were totally screwed up. I had no idea what a serving size really was supposed to be. “you mean a serving of chips is not eat as much as you want until you are full?” no. not at all. So I taught myself how to read nutrition labels. Now I read the back of EVERYTHING. (or look it up on my phone…more on that later) This took a while to get used to. At first I was horrified as how bad my portions were and how many calories where in some of the things I used to eat (and how much of it I would consume in one sitting!) And be careful! nutrition labels can be sneaky! My sister and I were at the grocery store today and we were looking at those cups of soup…you know…the ones you just peel off the metal lid and pop in the microwave. Well it said that one serving was 200 something calories…not bad for soup…but there were two servings in the one container! And if you are anything like me you rarely eat just that cup of soup for a meal…maybe you’ll have some crackers or carrots and hummus or a dessert with it. Well pretty soon you’re way up there in your calories. ANYWAY! All that to say…I’ve now gotten vigilant on eating one serving size of most things at any given time (salsa would be an exception…I’m sorry but 2 tbs of salsa at one time is just not a realistic serving size for me) It’s not hard…it just takes some time to get used too.
One resource I cannot recommend enough is an app/website called My Fitness Pal. I can honestly say this app has totally changed my life. I started using it at the beginning of my journey and it has not left my side. It not only helps me keep track of my food and calories. (I have a calorie limit for the day and the app adjusts it as I intake food and burn calories with exercise…and yes I put everything in there…everything.) it also helps me choose what to eat. This is especially helpful when eating out. I’m often using the app on my phone while looking at the menu to help me make smart decisions in what I eat. I can’t tell you how important the keeping track of what I eat has been for me.
While we are on the subject of reading food labels lets talk about allergies. Yup…I’ve got em…which makes reading the labels all the more important. I’m allergic to shellfish (not a huge issue…it’s pretty easy to avoid) and all dairy products. This has been a new one for me this year. And can be a little complicated. When i say all dairy products i’m talking milk, cheese, cream, butter, milk chocolate…basically anything that comes from a cow. I used to just stay away from lactose with the occasional ice cream treat…now…my body pretty much rejects all forms of dairy…in one of two ways…I’ll leave the rest up to your imagination. So this has bee a pretty big part of my dietary needs…finding dairy free alternatives to things and really reading the ingredient lists for dairy or dairy bi-products. On the plus side…dairy can be pretty heavy on the calories so this frees me up quite a bit. *if you’d like to read my story of how I discovered an alternative to milk you can read that here.*
Another big thing for me in taking control of my food is understanding why I’m eating. This may sound silly but it can be a big thing. I didn’t just eat when I was hungry. I ate when I was bored, I ate when I was stressed, I ate to not offend, I ate when I was upset. I basically turned to food to comfort instead of fuel. This is still something I struggle with. But now that I know where my weakness is I’m better able to conquer it. Food will never satisfy your emotions the way you think it will when you dive into that bag of chips or pint of ice cream or that package of cookies. Search your heart to figure out what issue you are trying to solve with food. Change like this doesn’t happen over night. It will probably be something I struggle with my whole life. But knowing your triggers and how to deal with them is huge.
OK. We’ve talked about how much we eat and why we eat it. Now lets chat about what we eat. I’ve chosen to (as much as I can…there are always some exceptions) eat clean. This basically means if my food doesn’t come from the ground or have a mother I try not to eat it. Like I said…this isn’t a hard and fast rule…it basically means I try to not eat a ton of processed food and I to eat as much vegetables, whole grains and protein as I can. I avoid dairy and refined carbs as much as I can. This is what has worked for me. I do love looking into my grocery cart and seeing the majority of it taken up with fruits and veggies! So colorful! Something fun I’ve started doing is if and when I shop at trader joes or the farmers market I always pick a fruit or vegetable that I’ve never had before to try for the first time. It keeps me on my toes and helps me not get stuck in food ruts. Some successes have been spaghetti squash, golden kiwis and pomegranates! This is could be a fun activity if you have kids or have just moved to another country (hint hint any missionary families who may be reading my blog)!
Well this has turned into a really long post…Is anyone still with me? Maybe i should have split part two up into two parts! Oh well it’s all really important!
One last little thing then I’ll stop for this part.
We all love it…but eating out can be a minefield when it comes to eating healthy. Lots of restaurants are offering healthy alternatives now but if you are anything like me you may not eat at those places a ton. I love trying out new restaurants with unique menus. This can be tricky at best. What I’ve gotten used to…especially with my allergies…is asking for alterations to certain menu items. I try and explain to the server my allergies when I first get there so they are aware and can (hopefully) relay the message to the kitchen, Then I order and then change the dish completely to fit my needs…yup…I’m that person. I used to get embarrassed and apologize a ton but I’ve gotten used to it now. And I know I’ve confused/frustrated/annoyed a fair few servers…but you need to do what you need to do. Don’t be embarrassed!
For crying out loud…Longest post ever!
So part one...excercise
And for part three…YOU! Oh it’s gonna be hard…but really good.
See ya then!
PS – here’s a really cool infographic that I found helpful