You need to shed a few pounds fast. To get that beach body, “diet is more important than exercise,” Craig Ballantyne tells us. The only problem? Deprivation diets suck. So does “No.” And so do padlocks, or child locks, on the cupboard cabinets.
Well, guess what? If you’re a food lover like me, getting your poolside-worthy figure can be easy. All you have to do?
Keep loving food.
(The right food.)
Getting Up Close and Personal with What You Eat
“Nutrients.” This word has almost been lost from our vocabulary, thanks to the nation’s widespread disconnect with our food sources (and our strange indifference to nutrition labels).
“According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics, the average American family spends 37 percent of its food dollars at restaurants and fast-food joints,” writes fitness go-to guy Joe Kita in the February issue of Reader’s Digest.
We eat out a lot. The problem with that, aside from a serious dent in our budgets, is that we become estranged from the food we’re putting in our bodies. We are forced to trust the contents of prepackaged and restaurant meals. Should we?
Another problem is that we’re slowly forgetting what real food tastes like. We’ve been conditioned to taste ingredients that simply aren’t there. Before we know it, we’ve counted guacamole Doritos as one of our daily vegetable servings, and chicken nuggets as a protein source.
The first step to slimming down: get closer to your food. Ask it some questions, like what are your nutritious properties? Where did you come from? How were you prepared? Kita’s advice is to eat at home more often than you eat out: the more healthy, home-cooked meals you have, the better you’ll be able to appreciate quality food and shun its chemically-manufactured cousins.
Where’s the Value, Again?
Feeling the economic pinch of the last two years, more Americans have been cruising the drive-thrus. The $4 billion spent annually on fast food advertising is reinforcing the idea that dollar menus are a windfall for the busy and the broke.
Even trusted health authorities are trying to fool us into enjoying fake food. Take a look at this surprising deal between McDonald’s and Weight Watchers. Starting in New Zealand, this renowned weight loss program has assigned points to McDonald’s menu items. Consumers recognize this sanctioning emblem and eagerly place their orders, thinking they’re on their way to losing weight. But Weight Watchers’ points system is leading you astray: it’s not enough to eat less crap. You’re still eating crap. And it’s still going to keep you out of that swimsuit.
I’m all for quick and cheap food, but fast food is not the solution: it isn’t quick, it isn’t cheap, and it isn’t food.
In less time than it takes to do the Wendy’s drive-thru loop, you can pack these healthy snacks into your lunch bag. That frees up your lunch break for something better, like taking a walk (double points!).
But I can have a “value meal” for under three bucks, you say? True, fast food can be cheap. The consequences of habitually eating out are not. Your health, mood and, of course, your figure will pay for it. And think of all the money you’ll fork out to undo the damage—doctor visits, prescriptions, weight loss programs… When you look at the bigger picture, devoting just a little more dough to quality food seems like pennies on the dollar, doesn’t it?
Worst of all, fast food is a grab bag. This I learned from working at a few fast food places as a teenager. In fact, that behind-the-scenes peek has cured many of their trust in fast food restaurants. Maybe you’re a risk-taker, or you just can’t kick your stubborn hankering for hamburgers. Well, when you decide you’re curious about what you’re eating, you might want to read this piece about the sketchy ingredients in popular fast food.
Forgive a Little
Back to loving food. A miserable food relationship is not the ticket to getting in shape. It usually makes the problem worse, provoking us to run with open arms right back to bad eating habits. So, instead of diving headfirst into a tyrannical diet, learn to love healthier food. This approach is sustainable for life! Appreciate the taste and appearance of fresh, healthy, high-quality ingredients. Junk food will start to look and taste gross pretty quickly, and voila! You have overcome the biggest obstacle between you and your coveted figure.
Real food—even the higher calorie stuff—is a hundred times better than non-food. So if you’re going to indulge in an occasional hamburger, have a hamburger, not a 20-ingredient “industrialized chemical.”
You don’t have to stay confined to fruits, veggies and whole grain toast; eat balanced meals with lots of variety. And it’s healthy to treat yourself to a few calorie-packed things you enjoy once in a while. Go with Ballantyne’s 90/10 rule: eat healthy 90% of the time, and give in to temptation the rest!
From IdealShape, more tips to slim down by loving what you eat.