Healthy Eating Lifestyle - Is it Making You Fat and Tired?
Is Your Healthy Eating Lifestyle Making You Fat and Tired?
Oh my gosh – nutrition, diet and health eating info is everywhere. And I’ve chosen to join in the mix too!
It can be confusing as a midlifer because our bodies and hormones are changing so the healthy eating advice for a 20 year old is not going to cut it as a 45 year old.
Each expert and association tries to lead you in their direction because they know best and their advice is going to help you. Right?
Everyone has heard (and maybe lived through) the intense focus on how much you eat. This has gotten way too much attention because while this does affect your weight and energy level, it's certainly not the “holy grail” of health. And if, like me, you’ve done any of the slimming clubs, this tends to be a short lived strategy that only works as long as you stick to it.
Let's focus a bit more on the often overlooked (and proven) benefits of what you eat and drink and how you eat and drink it.
Healthy eating - WHAT you eat and drink
The “calories in, calories out” philosophy (i.e. how much you eat) is being drowned out with research on other factors that may be just as important. Don't get me wrong limiting calories, carbs or fat can certainly help you lose weight but that's simply not the only factor for long-term weight loss and maximum energy for everyone.
When the intense focus on how much we ate didn't work in the long-run it wasn’t really a surprise. We kind of knew that already, didn't we? I used to end up either feeling deprived or I was forcing myself to eat at times that I didn’t want to and then not feeling satisfied at other times. And there’s only so much weighing of food that I could take!
You can certainly still continue to count your calories, carbs, and fat, if that’s your thing, but don't forget to also pay attention to what you eat as well.
You already know that ideally, you need a varied diet full of minimally-processed foods (i.e. fewer “packaged” “ready-to-eat” foods). This simple concept is paramount for weight loss, energy and overall health and wellness. We know this in relation to the obviously packaged goods like crisps, ready meals and fizzy drinks, but don’t forget that seemingly innocuous things like bread, cereals, soups and condiments can be highly processed and contain a list of ingredients that read like a chemistry experiment. Read your labels, or even better, eat foods that don’t have any labels!
Every day this is what you should aim for:
A colourful array of fruits and veggies at almost every meal and snack. You need the fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Enough protein. Making sure you get all of those essential amino acids (bonus: eating protein can increase your metabolism; check out this blog post on metabolism). This doesn’t have to be meat, fish and eggs – think beans, legumes, nuts and seeds too.
Healthy fats and oils (never “hydrogenated” ones). There is a reason some fatty acids are called “essential” - you need them as building blocks for your hormones and brain as well as to be able to absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins from your uber-healthy salads. Use extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil, eat your organic egg yolks, and get grass-fed meats when possible. You don't need to overdo it here. Just make sure you're getting some high-quality fats.
If you want some support to reduce the amount of processed, sugary foods in your diet, why not jump on board my FREE 5 day Ditch the Sugar challenge to kickstart your healthy eating habits?
Healthy eating - HOW you eat and drink
Also pay attention to how you eat and drink.
Studies are definitely showing that this has more of an impact than we previously thought.
Are you rushed, not properly chewing your food, and possibly suffering from gastrointestinal issues? Do you drink your food?
When it comes to how you eat let's first look at “mindful eating”.
Mindful eating means to take smaller bites, eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and savour every bite. Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture. Breathe.
This gives your digestive system the hint to prepare for digestion and to secrete necessary enzymes.
This can also help with weight loss because eating slower often means eating less. You probably already knew that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full but if we’re not focussed on eating (maybe watching the TV or flicking through Instagram) it’s easy to overeat (check out this blog post on how to avoid overeating).
We also know that more thoroughly chewed food is easier to digest and it makes it easier to absorb all of those essential nutrients.
And don't forget about drinking your food
Yes, smoothies can be healthy and a fabulously easy and tasty way to get in some fruits and veggies (think leafy greens!) but drinking too much food can contribute to a weight problem and feelings of sluggishness.
Don't get me wrong a green smoothie can make an amazingly nutrient-dense meal and is way better than stopping for convenient junk food – just consider a large smoothie to be a full meal not a snack. And don't gulp it down too fast. Go easy on the fruit and make sure there’s spinach or other greens in there too.
If your smoothies don't fill you up like a full meal does try adding in a spoon of fibre like ground flax or chia seeds, or some extra protein like a slice of tofu (you won’t taste it, promise!).
Consider not only how much you eat but also what and how you eat it.
How can you make healthier eating work to prevent weight gain around the middle?
Take time to eat! I know it’s hard but try your best to remove distractions while eating. Turn off the TV, put your phone on silent (and out of reach) and sit at the table. Your stomach will thank you for it.
Consider using smaller plates, bowls and glasses – research shows that we automatically consume less without really noticing. It’s a simple little thing that might just make the difference.
You know the drill: focus on getting lots of colourful veggies and fruit into your diet for the full range of benefits they offer.
Include protein and ‘good fats’ in your meals to maximise your essential amino acids, to feel satisfied with your food and to support your hormonal health.
Try to remove as much processed foods as you can and focus on whole, unprocessed foods. But make your food interesting and get lots of flavours in there.
If you’re struggling to ditch the junk while keeping your meals interesting and satisfying, then why not join my 5 Day Ditch the Sugar challenge to give you some motivation and support?
The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this blog are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this blog. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this blog. Midlife Menu Ltd disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this blog.