The Basic Diet Shift

SHAPE UP FOR SUMMER CONTEST 2012

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The Basic Diet Shift (two weeks)

Man, do I love food.

No joke. I can eat a bag of Decadent cookies on my own in one sitting. Ice cream is like heroin to me. Chips…well, let’s just say they have a seat next to Southern Comfort and cigarettes in the lobby of the hardest things I’ve ever had to give up.

Listen, we all know what is and isn’t good for us. And we can go on and on at length about the dangers of sugar, preservatives, saturated fats, alcohol, and just about everything else that’s tasty. But that doesn’t make for a good strategy. It’s too easy to just say, “I’ll eat better tomorrow…or start next week.”

What most of us need to do — and I’m no super hero…I need to do this too — is recognize what needs to change, and then change those things, a little at a time.

For my strategy in the contest, I’m taking a gradual approach to diet change. I can do this, because I know what works. I’ve done it before. But I like ice cream. Nevertheless, here’s the plan:

1. Take a lesson from my kid.

Kids often eat instinctively, and you might think it’s weird, but my four-year-old loves raw vegetables; especially spinach and broccoli (no, I’m not joking). She also eats according to her body’s needs, which is something we lose track of as we get older and get caught up in cultural or societal tendencies.

By this second point, I mean the timing of her eating. Given the option (that is, when she’s at home with me and not at daycare where they schedule food), she prefers to eat most of her calories before lunch. She munches pretty much non-stop from breakfast (after she has a big gulp of water…more on that shortly) until lunchtime. I have seen this kid eat for breakfast, and through lunch:

  • a bowl of cereal with fresh blueberries and raspberries;
  • a cup of yogurt;
  • a cup of applesauce;
  • two cheese strings;
  • a glass of milk;
  • a juice box;
  • a quarter cup of almonds;
  • two pieces of fruit;
  • another slice of cheese;
  • a cup of Goldfish crackers;
  • two scrambled eggs;
  • half a plum;
  • another glass of milk.

Is it any wonder she hardly eats at suppertime? In fact, I’ve stopped fighting with her about eating her supper, because she eats most of her food for the day during the part of the day experts tell us we’re most metabolically charged to handle it (yes, I realize it’s not all health food, and we’re going to be working on that as well). And before you start waving the finger of childhood obesity at me, let me point out that she’s just reached 34 lbs. She’s the farthest thing from overweight…in fact, doctors have suggested we feed her more…but you can’t put more in a kid than they’re willing to eat.

2. Eat less sugar.

Everybody eats too much sugar. It’s not just cavities we need to worry about now though. Sugar (and its sneaky cousin, starch) has been linked to everything from behavioural problems to heart disease, right up to Alzheimer’s and, of course, diabetes.

Well, we now also know that sugar, and not fat, is responsible for the majority of our health issues concerning extra body fat as well. It’s not as easy as it sounds to give up sugar. We’re addicted to it. It does many of the same things to our chemistry as drugs like heroin, and that’s precisely what is getting in our way as a society trying to lose weight.

I know for a fact that I can beat sugar. I’ve done it before. Now, however, I have a kid. And the simplicity of processed meals makes this a lot more complicated. But it can be done.

It has to be.

3. Eat when it counts.

I have a great diet strategy that I’m looking at following. I’ll let you in on a secret: it’s all about fuel and repair. Most people eat for today only, and that’s where our hunger kicks in. But if you eat to fuel what you’re planning to do tomorrow, your metabolism reacts in a very different way.

Some of my greatest diet successes have come from focusing on what’s coming up. I’ll eat almonds as a morning snack to get me through the afternoon, rather than eating an apple to give me a sugar rush right now, and have to repeat it later on.

 

This list represents the three biggest challenges I need to overcome in my eating strategy. For the next two weeks, however, as I get my system lined up for the work to come, this is all I’m going to be doing:

  1. Have 500 ml. of cold water first thing in the morning.
  2. Add cinnamon to my coffee every time (I’ll explain this one in an article later on).
  3. Eat more protein at breakfast.
  4. Wean myself off sugar, even in my coffee (I’ll opt for one stevia and a dash of cinnamon).

In the next phase, I’ll be working on something a bit more involved…but I’ll save that for the blog.

What do you have in mind for your weight loss routine? Are you planning any major dietary changes for summer, or have you already found a lifestyle shift that works? Let me know.

 

Image: rakratchada torsap / FreeDigitalPhotos.net