Confused about what to eat to lose weight and maintain a healthy body?
Busting common nutrition & diet myths.
By Sandra Swami, Personal Trainer & Wellness Coach
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a guest blog by personal trainer & wellness coach, Sandra Swami. Sandra helped me achieve my -200+ lb weight loss and I work with her now to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Sandra is also a nutritional coach, and when I saw she was teaching a class titled: “Debunking Common Nutrition Myths,” I asked her to write this blog. I’ve heard from many people post New Year asking, “What should I eat to lose weight?” I get it.
If you’re confused about what to eat, how much, when. Or, don’t know what to believe on food labels and in the nutrition advice you read online, start here. Feel free to post questions and Sandra will answer them.
Do a Google search on “nutrition and diet myths” and you get 7,720,000 results. WOW!!! And when you delve in and start reading you discover that one article makes certain claims such as “A High Protein, Low Carbohydrate Diet is the BEST one for weight loss.” But wait! Another claims that that is a MYTH and the BEST weight loss program is to cut calories.
Another says to eliminate all gluten. Another to replace your soda with diet soda — then you’re golden! Eggs are bad, but dairy is good – or is it that dairy is bad and eggs are good? Never skip meals, but NEVER eat after 8 pm! But… what if you haven’t eaten dinner yet because you work late and it is 9 pm?
Try a vegetarian diet say some experts but others say to be sure to eat enough lean meat to ensure adequate protein intake. What about potatoes? Are they ok to eat? Bread? Is it ok if it’s whole grain? It is, right? What about bananas? Some people say they have too much sugar and contribute to belly fat. Oh yeah, so do carrots.
You get the point: The plethora of conflicting information about diet and nutrition is CONFUSING, at best! What should you believe and what should you do?
First, I hope that everyone can remember that it REALLY is important to your overall short and long-term health WHAT you eat. The human body needs a variety of nutrients and they are best absorbed from food — not supplements. While it is not necessary to get every single nutrient or a particular type and number of amino acids/calories/vitamins/minerals each day, it IS ideal to consume a variety of foods every day. By following this simple strategy it is more likely that you will actually consume enough of those all-important nutrients.
One really good and fun way to do this is to eat a “Rainbow” of foods. Here’s an example of a sample day: Try an egg with spinach and tomatoes for breakfast. Go ahead and pair it with a delicious slice of toasted sprouted grain bread spread with some peanut butter. You will feel comfortably full and energized for the entire morning! A few hours later eat an orange and enjoy the tangy and fresh taste and aroma. For lunch how about 1/2 of an avocado, some shrimp flavored with a little vinaigrette, organic baby greens with cucumber slices tossed with olive oil, lemon and a little balsamic vinegar. Yum! Then mid-afternoon reach for a small banana along with a small handful of almonds. Dinner can be a stir fry of chicken breast with bok choy, red onion, red cabbage, slivered carrots flavored with fragrant Asian spices. A bowl of frozen mixed berries topped with some plain Greek yogurt and chopped pecans is the perfect and delectable dessert.
One of the hardest parts of eating well is planning and knowing how to prepare and package tasty to-go food. But with a little practice anyone can do it. And, it doesn’t take longer to make a quick meal at home than it does to drive somewhere, sit or stand in line, pay, and wait for your food to be made. There are many ways to make your job easier for you — groceries can be ordered online and delivered to your home or work (Lori does this to avoid temptations in the grocery store.)
Many products abound that make healthy eating easier. Did you know that Trader Joes and other grocers sell already-hard-boiled eggs? Salads in a bag are a great starting point. Add some broccoli slaw (also at grocery stores), cherry tomatoes, and top with smoked salmon (another grocery store item). You can make a big batch of steel cut oats one evening and divide it into portions in plastic bags or bowls. Grab one out, add frozen berries and slivered, toasted almonds, a little milk if you like, and pop it in the micro. Delicious and nutritious breakfast in minutes! There are many other ideas like these. The important thing is to plan and to make it happen!
Nutrition and Diet Myths
But many of us know that the really hard part of eating well is avoiding the “off-limit” foods and breaking bad habits of ____________ (you fill in the blank). It is NO MYTH that this is HARD WORK. Like any challenge it is important to be positive, planful, mindful and determined.
Here are some tips:
- Start with small changes — add breakfast to your day if you have habitually skipped it. Stop drinking calorie-filled beverages (sodas, juices, cocktails, wine and beer) and replace it with water or herbal tea. Get rid of your coffee creamers and artificial sweeteners. You CAN get used to black coffee or tea!!! You get the point… small changes add up to BIG results.
- What does help? Partner with a friend –better planning and help with your “hard stuff”.
- Keep track of your eating with a tracker or journal (paper and pen or use an app).
- Plan to cook/portion/package a number of meals one afternoon or evening. Reward your hard work and efforts with fresh flowers, fun activities, etc.
- Get support from a nutrition coach.
Most importantly — remember that your body is the only one you’ll ever have and that how you eat really does impact every aspect of your health.
About Sandra: My name is Sandra Swami and I am a wellness coach. I can help you improve your overall well-being. Whether you choose to have one-on-one Fascial Stretch Therapy sessions, do nutritional coaching or fitness training, or participate in a Swami Method class that combines self fascial stretch with yoga and other modalities, you will feel better and be on the way to achieving your health-related goals. Visit my website for more information, click here.
Read these related nutrition blogs on intheequation.com:
- Nutrition: Do you know the basics? (includes cool nutrition quiz and facts), Dec. 2014
- Sugar smarts (10 sneaky sugar sources that sabotage weight loss), Sept. 2014
- New nutrition labels: Will they help? (on new federal food label recommendations), March 2014
- Food and activity trackers, Jan. 2014
- Sugar turns you into a junkie, Dec. 2013
- Know your nutrition facts, it matters (busting some of the myths), March 2013
- Nutritionally sound. Healthy as a horse?!, Dec. 2011