Why eat seasonally?
Choosing local, seasonal produce not only means you are eating fruits and veggies at their peak flavor, but also gaining the benefits of nutrients at just the right time. For more info, check out the Why Eat Seasonally.
What is clean eating?
I am a HUGE supporter of clean eating. Considered a lifestyle, not a diet, clean eating consists of choosing food as close to natural and organic as possible, eating seasonal produce, drinking plenty of water, eating several small meals throughout the day, learning to avoid refined or processed foods and limiting alcohol consumption to a healthy limit for the body. Check out more info on clean eating here.
Why does snacking increase your metabolism?
When you aren’t eating enough throughout the day, you send signals to your brain that makes it think you are giving up on eating. Your body then begins to “hoard” food in the effort to have a supply in the event you might not give it a meal. Throughout this process, your metabolism begins to slow down as well, making it harder to digest the food you are eating in a normal time frame. You may eat two meals a day and not even be hungry, but your body doesn’t care. It’s prepared for survival against you. Eating this way also tends to mean you are going to eat larger portions at one time, giving your body more of a “mess” to clean up. When you add up the fact that eating a huge meal decreases your metabolism and increases digestion time, you have a growing (pun intended) problem on your hands…and thighs…and stomach…
If you begin to feed your body on a more regular basis, it starts to calm down and not hold on to so much excess “in case of emergency” fat. You also begin to increase your metabolism which in turn gives you a higher energy level, decreased cholesterol level, promotes weight loss and helps in developing lean muscle mass.
Of course you could eat anything as a small snack, but you also risk a slew of other health problems (ex: diabetes, immune disorders, heart disease, cancer, etc.) if you continue to stuff your face with fried, over-processed starch filled junk. That’s why it is so important to think carefully and plan ahead before putting food into your mouth. This website will help you effectively do just that; become more health conscious and learn to enjoy it!
How should I go about eating more frequently?
First things first: Don’t skip BREAKFAST!! This is the meal that will jump start your metabolism for the day. Many people are not hungry in the morning and that’s ok, but you should still have something small and light, like a piece of fruit, if your stomach doesn’t handle food well in the morning.
Try to find a schedule of eating that works for you. You do not need to eat more than six times a day or your risk of obesity will go up. I eat about every 2-4 hours. A usual day for me is Breakfast at 7:30, Morning snack at 10:30, Lunch at 1:30, afternoon snack at 5:30, and Dinner at 8:30. This schedule works for me. You may not want to eat dinner so late (in fact some studies say this may increase obesity as well, although I have not noticed a problem myself). Consistency is key. Once you train your body to eat smaller meals more regularly, your metabolism will begin to re-train itself to speed up and your body will become less of a food hoarder.
Can’t I just exercise instead of cutting down on my portion size?
Funny, you would think so, but no. It doesn’t work that way. You would literally have to be working out several hours a day or training for a super-competition like the Ironman for that to be effective. I have run several half-marathons and even competed in marathons where people with extra adipose were faster and more athletically trained than I was at a smaller size. To be painfully honest, if the average person decides to start ‘working out’, they usually only go to the gym maybe 3-4 times a week from 30 minutes to an hour at a time. That’s definitely not enough time to make an impact without adjusting any eating habits. It doesn’t make sense at first, but once you understand how your body holds onto food based on how often you are feeding it, the picture becomes very clear. You just can’t eat huge meals and then run it all off. And you certainly can’t work out, eat whatever you want and expect to see fantastic results. You may lose a little weight and be a more toned than when you started, but all that hard work and lackluster results will wear a person down over time.
I don’t have time to make fresh snacks. Why are pre-packaged foods so bad for me?
This is a good time to take an evaluation of how you spend your time. You may really be going going going 24 hours a day, but most of us have time we could be doing something good for our bodies vs sleeping too long, watching tv, etc. It’s a balance in deciding how far you are willing to go for the greater good of your health. I am no stranger to this. In fact, I thought I had not extra time in the day to cram in one more activity. Some days that is true, but if I am honest, I have some spare time to throw together a basic healthy snack. Does this mean I give up any free time to be a slave to the kitchen. Nope. I just learned where I needed to adjust my schedule. For me, it was too much sleep. I slept in way too long, which made me feel tired for the rest of the day anyway. I now get up earlier and put together the food for the day. I even have enough time to make food for my husband to take as well!
Another misconception is that cooking healthy is super time consuming. It really shouldn’t be unless you are using a complicated recipe. Most of the snacks I make take less than 30 minutes and have less than 10 ingredients (many have less than 5!) You can make some of them in one batch and eat them for a few days too. Sometimes things need to marinate or soak before you can cook them, so you marinade it, stick it in the fridge and go about your day. It’s that simple. Knife skills increase over time. I wouldn’t rush that area. You don’t want to lose a finger. Nobody likes bloody snacks. No seriously, slow down. Yikes!
The reason you want to stay away from pre-packaged snacks is that many of them are sitting there on a shelf for quite some time and they are still fresh when you get them home to eat them. If you look at the date, several of them are even good for 6 months or longer. Aside from canning and freezing, there are not many preserving processes that allow for a single food to stay fresh without some added potentially dangerous chemical. Does that raise any red flags to you? It should. Even if a product claims to be “healthy” that doesn’t mean it’s not loaded down with preservatives and salt which is a major cause of heart disease… not to mention just pesky old bloating. Yuck. Doesn’t pair well with a good beach body day. And don’t get me started on how many pre-packaged foods are genetically modified! We are a consumer driven society and if a company selling a product think you are looking for anything ‘healthy’, those will be the biggest letters on the box to get your attention. Don’t be fooled by the 100 calorie snacks either. They are still loaded with sugar, salt and other preservatives. Remember, it’s not only portion control we are after here…it’s the content of food we are consuming as well.
I am willing to eat healthier, but my family isn’t so accepting. How can I get them to eat what I am eating?
So many families are living in what I like to call the “easily accessible junk food era”. The problem is that your kids and spouse sometimes don’t see it as junk. Especially the kids. After all, it doesn’t taste like junk. If they have been raised to be able to eat whatever for a majority of their life, the challenge becomes even more difficult to remove it out of their life. There are a few things you can do to help lessen the “blow” of changing to a healthy lifestyle for your children, and who knows, your spouse might even be re-trainable too!
1) Replace a favorite junk food with a food they enjoy. Everyone likes something that is healthy. Start there. Make a healthy snack with a food that your family is into and start to exchange that for the bad snack. You might even be able to turn them on to a healthy snack if you offer them some while you are eating it just to gauge facial expressions before weeding out the old snacks. After you find a few things they like, start the transition.
2) Don’t throw everything out at one time. If you get rid of all the bad stuff at one time, your family will not only call you a few choice words, but also view the whole experience as negative. When you have reached the point to eliminate a certain food, don’t announce it. Just have the new snack they enjoy ready to eat in place of the old snack.
3) Encourage your kids to help you make snacks. If they are little, this is a really good way to not only teach them about cooking, but also makes them more likely to want to eat what they have made. It’s like a fun science project.
4) Once you have the snacks transitioned, start slowly changing the main meals. It is important to try and add as many fruits and vegetables into a dish as you can. Jessica Seinfeld has an amazing website called Do it Delicious where you can find recipes to “hide” the veggies in everyday meals. Kids continue to fall for their parents veggie deception….muuuaaaahhhhh!!!
Overall you need to ask yourself if you truly care for your family. The answer is of course a unanimous YES! Start to view changing the family diet as a loving gesture. There are probably many things as a parent that your kids are mad at you for now, but they will understand one day. It is meant to be for their best interest and protection. I am sure you don’t want to lose your spouse at a young age, or have your children grow up unhealthy, or even morbidly obese as so many kids are these days. Give them a good start and knowledge about the right foods to eat before they head out into the world alone, making their own choices. There are enough obstacles to overcome in the world. Food shouldn’t have to be one of them.