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You Are What You Eat

April 22, 2011 - Dalia Jakubauskas
It’s a cruel, hard fact that even if you work out like a maniac, you will not make progress if you are putting vast amounts of garbage in your body. Taking an educated guess, I can safely say that 80% of the battle to lose weight is controlling what goes in your mouth. The formula for weight loss has not changed in thousands of years. You have to burn more calories than you take in. This isn’t easy. We are hard-wired to crave the bad stuff – simple carbohydrates, sugar and salt. Unless your palate has been trained from infancy to relish healthy foods, most of us engage in unhealthy eating habits. In particular, we eat way to many processed foods. Supermarket shelves are flooded with the stuff. It is low quality, high calorie food that comes in a bag, box or carton. It’s easy to fix, tasty and emotionally satisfying. It’s also making us fat, poorly nourished and sick. It has been stripped of the nutrients our bodies need to covert to energy. Take a white loaf of bread for instance. The manufacturer removes the wheat grain’s outer shell, which contains fiber, essential fats and vitamin E. What’s left is the starch in the grain that is ground into a fine powder and bleached white. In the process, other vital vitamins and minerals are also lost. In order to meet FDA requirements to qualify as “food” the manufacturer has to add fortified man-made minerals and vitamins, which are chemicals. Then, to make it palatable, sugar, salt, artificial flavors, preservatives and hydrogenated fats are added. Yum! But here’s the kicker. Eating that loaf of white bread with its empty calories does not satisfy your hunger. When your body doesn’t get the nutrients it needs it tells you to eat more and the result is obesity. So, all those Lean Cuisines you’ve been eating that are advertised as helping you to lose weight are actually making you fat. The main ingredient in most processed foods, like frozen dinners, are simple carbohydrates and sugars. Eating these increases the production of insulin from your pancreas to lower your blood sugar when it becomes too high. Insulin causes your body to store fat and, get this, also prevents your body from burning fat stored for energy. This double whammy causes rapid weight gain. So if it comes in a box, bag, can or carton and contains ingredients that have more than 10 letters that you can’t pronounce, don’t buy it. Eating foods that are as close to their original form as possible is the only way to go. That means eating lean proteins like fish and poultry; lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains like whole wheat, barley, and quinoa. Legumes like beans and lentils also provide a good source of protein and fiber. Eating healthy isn’t that complicated. But it does take a little bit of work. To eat healthy, you have to eat fresh and be willing to take the time to fix real meals for yourself. I finally learned to cook for myself and cook healthy using recipe websites like and Sites like these offer easy instructions for preparation and helpful information like fat and calorie content. Here are some other tips for eating healthy.

-Lose the white food! If the color of the food is pale as snow, chances are all the nutrients have been bleached out of it and it contains mostly starch and sugar. Think white bread, white potatoes, white rice, etc. These are simple carbs which you might as well paste to your thighs as fat.

-Substitute complex carbs like green leafy vegetables, for simple carbs and eat lots of them. Vegetables like spinach, broccoli, kale and Swiss chard are all nutrient rich, low in calories and hydrate the body.

-Eat 4 or 5 small meals during the day instead of 3 large ones. Eating small portions every few hours keeps you from feeling hungry and is easier for your body to burn off than several large meals. For instance, try breaking up a large meal into small portions to use for snacks during the day.

-Reduce the portion size of proteins and simple carbs, like rice and potatoes to what will fit in the palm of your hand. Then load up on the vegetables.

-Eat breakfast! Just like a car that needs gas, your body has laid dormant for 7 or 8 hours. Your metabolism slows and stays slow until you put fuel in your tank. Skipping breakfast only slows it further and your body has a much harder time burning calories you put in you body later in the day.

-Conversely, avoid eating late at night before you go to bed. In sleep mode your body is not able to burn the calories that are now just sitting in you belly.

-For a balanced diet, don’t forget your fruits.

-Drink lots of water. A well hydrated body functions better, heals faster and has more energy.

-Lastly, indulge once in a while. Eating absolutely perfect will drive you crazy after a while. So go ahead and have that small slice of chocolate cake or that cup of Ben and Jerry’s, Chunky Monkey ice cream. Reward yourself for a job well done, just don’t overdo it. After all, life is about balance.

It is absolutely true that you are what you eat. So, which would you choose to look and feel like -a big sloppy cheeseburger or a light and sunny garden full of fresh fruits and vegetables? The choice seems pretty clear.


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