Nutrition and weight management
What to eat
Let’s face it: nutrition information can be confusing and frustrating! With varying opinions and conflicting research, you may wonder at times how to eat healthy.
Evidence continues to point towards a Mediterranean style of eating to support health. And it doesn’t need to be complicated – the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating more seafood; filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables; switching to fat-free or low-fat milk; nixing the sugary beverages; watching the sodium; and enjoying your food, but less of it.
How many calories should I be eating?
A safe weight loss goal is 1-2 pounds per week. One pound is approximately 3500 calories, so if you were to lose 1-2 pounds per week you would need to create a daily deficit of 500-1000 calories per day.
Menu planning and preparing quick and healthy meals
Healthy meals don’t just happen without a plan. When you are stressed, tired and hungry it becomes more difficult to access the part of the brain in charge of making decisions. Failing to plan is planning to fail, so take some time to plan and prepare meals for the week and set yourself up for success!
Try at least one new recipe per week to expand your cooking repertoire. You may begin to see cooking healthy meals as a creative outlet and an act of love for yourself and family.
If you’re living with a health condition, try these meal solutions with you in mind:
- Blood pressure: Learn about the DASH Diet Eating Plan.
- Diabetes: The American Diabetes Association has some meal ideas and resources on how to feed you and your family.
- Cancer prevention and survival: Get the tools and information you need to reduce your cancer risk by visiting The American Institute for Cancer Research
- Anti-inflammatory diets and arthritis: What exactly is an anti-inflammatory diet? There are a lot of different definitions out there. Read this evidence-based article highlighting foods that truly can make a difference with your health.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Manage IBS by eating a low FODMAP diet.
Track your food
The first step to change is to know what you are eating. It takes only 100 extra calories per day to gain 10 pounds per year. Our calorie needs decrease by about 100 calories a day for each decade of life, so if you are not doing anything different with your lifestyle as you age, you could be gradually putting on extra pounds each year. Tracking food, even if it is only 2-3 days a week, can provide insight and awareness about your personal eating patterns and the calories and nutrients you are consuming on a regular basis.
Food and water tracking apps to try
MyFitnessPal is a mobile app and website that gives you a wealth of tools for tracking what and how much you eat, and how many calories you burn through activity. MyFitnessPal has a very simple design, excellent interface, enormous database of food and huge network of supported apps and devices – which make it one of the most popular apps on the market.
Lose it! allows you to consolidate your workout journal and food diary into one. Each food type includes accurate calorie, carb, fiber, fat, sodium and protein values, which you can track on a separate page. Add in your daily exercises – including the intensity and hours spent – and it calculates how many calories you ate, how many you burned and how much more you can eat that day.
Plant Nanny turns virtual-you into a plant and sends occasional push notifications to encourage you to drink water. When you download the app, you input some personal information (height, weight, physical activity level) and then pick out a plant. Plant Nanny tells you how many cups of water you have to drink per day.
The majority of people eat for reasons other than hunger from time to time. When we are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired it is best to HALT. Take a moment to tune in to understand your emotions and feelings. What do you need? Is it really food? If not, ask yourself what you need to meet the need directly. For example, if you are tired, take a nap or engage in restorative activities such as a bath or meditation instead of trying to get more done around the house. Delaying the act of eating for two minutes can help your brain to cope in a different way. The majority of the time the urge to eat goes away. If you still want to eat, choose a balanced snack with carbohydrate and protein and do it without guilt or shame.