10 Tenets of Effective Weight Loss – #5 – Diet – Food as Fuel

5) Think of food as fuel, not for pleasure

We’re all guilty of overeating because a particular dish was really tasty or it’s your favorite dish, etc. But, since access to food is not really an issue (i.e. you probably consider yourself overweight) there’s no need to treat any meal as if it were your last. Remember, 3500 Calories equals 1 pound, and “calories are calories” when talking about weight – it’s just a measurement of the heat content of food and your body doesn’t much care if it comes down your throat or through an IV. Where those calories come from does matter, but not for the purposes of long-term weight gain. 10,000 calories from chips and candy will put 3 pounds on your belly just like 10,000 calories from chicken and broccoli.

At meals, eat your reasonable-sized portion and save the rest. The key is to separate yourself from the pleasurable aspects of eating, getting the appropriate amounts of proteins/carbs/fats with a balanced supply of vitamins and nutrients.

By all means, you should enjoy your food. Our sense of taste protects us from unpalatable items, but it also gets us into trouble. There’s really no nutritious value of sugar-laden candy or soda. Same thing goes with excess fat, and yet fat contains the most dense calories (most calories per gram). Why is Black Angus beef so popular? Because it’s infiltrated with a lot of fat compared to other lines of steak – it basically comes from cows who were genetically engineered (OK, selected by breeding techniques) to develop steaks that are more “marbled” (aka, loaded with fat). Fat tastes good – ever try fat-free cheese?

My number one rule about diet is to avoid processed foods. Foods are not meant to be able to sit on a shelf for months (or even weeks) at a time. The shelf-life of food in supermarkets is made possible by preservatives. It’s unfortunate, but it s actually rather difficult to interpret the ingredient list on most foods these days or even figure out what is really inside a package. If you can’t pronounce the ingredient list, put it down.

Stick with produce. You may be familiar with the recommendation to shop the perimeter of the grocery store only. Once you venture into the aisles, you will be bombarded with “junk” (with a few exceptions, e.g. tuna, oatmeal, frozen produce). Here’s an interesting analysis of the health values of grocery store departments. Think about the typical grocery store layout – the majority of them are the same, and there’s a reason behind that. There’s a complicated psychology of grocery store layout with the intent of making customers spend more. I used to peruse the grocery store, walking each aisle, calculating my need for the things I saw, looking for my familiar food items, falling prey to other things that weren’t on my shopping list. Now that I try to avoid processed foods as much as possible, I do a quick loop through the store and I’m done. That’s an unexpected time-saver, for sure. I know exactly what I need every time, and I don’t have to dodge shopping carts in aisles.

Select healthy foods –

1) Fruits

2) Vegetables

3) Lean meats – primarily chicken and fish

4) Complex carbohydrates – whole grains, oatmeal (not instant) , brown rice/pasta

The closer the food is to coming right from the ground (or plant) or off an animal (swimming or flying), the better it is for you.

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