Shifting from Dietary Quantity to Quality for Weight Management
Never go to the grocery store on an empty stomach? You have probably heard that rule a few times, and it makes sense. When we are hungry, we make visual and emotional choices about the food we eat, without necessarily spending the time to consider whether that snack or meal is a benefiting our health and well-being.
From nutritionists, celebrities and models who seem to make it look ‘so easy’ to be fit and fabulous, we only see what is on the outside and presented to us about their lifestyle. What we know is that many of the people we admire, have a disciplined meal and fitness plan. It takes work and thoughtful consideration about our meals and activity level every day, to achieve it and sustain a healthy body weight for long-term health.
The Battle Against Unhealthy Food Cravings
Why is it that the second we become stressed, we want to eat something? And that ‘something’ that we want to eat, is usually not good for us. Two major things have changed in our daily lives, that make cravings more difficult to resist; first, we have more food availability than ever before in human history. Second, food (particularly high-carbohydrate snacks and beverages) are marketed to us relentlessly, on a daily basis.
What we see, we want. And physiologically, since human beings evolved surviving through food scarcity (cavewomen didn’t have Krispy Kreme drive through), our brains are actually wired to consume food when we have the opportunity to do so. Check out what Kent Berridge, professor of psychology and neuroscience (University of Michigan) had to say about these biological triggers.
You aren’t a ‘bad person’ because you are craving something. There are complex hormonal, psychological and physiological signals processing in the background, that compel you to eat. The trick is not to try to suppress those urges, but to train yourself to seek foods that are higher in nutritional quality. So, if you do eat, you are picking something healthy, that will keep you satisfied.
Why Protein and Fiber Are Dietary Weapons for Weight-Loss
We don’t eat enough fiber. Even if you think you are getting enough, chances are that you are not. And when you are working hard to achieve your weight-loss goal, fiber is critically important because it keeps you feeling full longer. It helps reduce cravings, by providing the nutrients your body needs.
Proteins can feel a little difficult to source, unless you know where to find portable, easy to prepare foods that you love. Unlike other vitamins and nutrients, the body has no mechanism to really store protein. It’s a ‘use it or lose it’ situation, and when your body is running low on proteins, it triggers a hunger or craving sensation to convince you to consume some. Right away.
Some high protein dietary sources include:
- Dairy foods (milk, cheese and yogurt)
- Tuna, shrimp and other types of fish
- Beef and chicken
- Greek yogurt
High-fiber foods are a little easier to source, because food manufacturers are innovating new and healthier ‘convenience’ foods that are fortified with fiber. But natural sources of fiber are healthier, and include avocados, apples, raspberries, popcorn (plain), chia (add some to your smoothie) and dark chocolate.
How to Stay on Track for Successful Weight-Loss
Keeping a positive mindset about all the healthy benefits that you are going to enjoy when you reach your weight-loss goal matters. Don’t dwell on the kinds of foods or treats that you are depriving yourself of, but rather stay focused on how good you will feel, and how great you will look when you accomplish your goal. Remember that every positive choice you make (and each time you avoid the temptation to choose low-nutrient valued meals and snacks) will put you one step closer. Take it a day at a time, and plan a healthier treat every now and then, to reward yourself for staying on track.