How to Eat Well

Fruits are a big part of eating well

Let’s focus on your plate.  When was the last time you really considered what you ate?  We’ve got our lunch spots, our zombie breakfast routine, and the automatic grabs in the grocery store.  During the weekly challenge we’re going to really focus on food.

Some of us are great at this, balancing healthy living like it was a breeze.  If that’s you, then forward this post to a friend and otherwise enjoy your day.  For the rest of us (including me sometimes), we need to be reminded on how to eat well. Some guidelines:

Focus on Fruits & Vegetables

Get your fruits and vegetable servings in first and the rest of healthy eating will fall into place much more easily.  Why would you spend all that time prepping vegetables and then put something beige and fried next to it?  This first decision sets the tone for the rest of your meal.  It’s one of the best tricks I learned from my nutritionist.

It’s Always About Portion Control

The French enjoy their desserts.  Think about it, though; in France it’s called a macaroon, but in American culture it’s a Whoopie Pie!  Keep the portions in check.  Eat from a smaller plate, purchase a food scale, or grab the measuring cups and measure out your meals until you can eyeball it like a pro.  The best way to avoid obesity is to put the right amount of foods into your body in the first place.

Stop Blaming Your Slowing Metabolism

There, I said it.  Yes as we get older our metabolism slows down.  We also slow down.  The couch potato lifestyle is insidious and hard to avoid.  You have to consciously get your bum out of the seat.  Our culture actively promotes a sedentary lifestyle. How often do you meet a friend for coffee versus meet a friend for a workout?  How often do you go to the movies versus taking an evening stroll?  We burn less calories mostly because we move less.  And any adjustment over time would be easily fixed when you noticed a pound or two creeping on.  Not twenty.  It’s not your metabolism, it’s you.   Harsh I know, but I’m saying it anyway.

Eat the Right Amount of Protein

The vast majority of people only need three to six ounces of protein per day.  It is the rare, rare individual who needs more than that.  Here’s a great protein calculator from the University of Maryland (they have an outstanding nutrition program).  I come out to only 76 grams a day or 2.68 ounces.  Surprised?  It’s way less than you think.  A lot of people eat more calories than they need simply by serving larger portions of protein than they need.

Ditch the Processed Crap

Think of white bread as a treat, just like you would an ice cream cone or a bar of chocolate, something to have only occasionally.  Anything with white flour is just a pile of empty calories doing nothing for your body.  The only thing you’ll get is a blood sugar spike and then a low blood sugar aftermath leaving you feeling tired and cranky.  Stick with whole grains whenever possible.

So this is a pretty radical, subversive post.  I’m suggesting you eat real food, keep portions in control, and only eat the amount of protein you really need.  I’m hoping you’ll ditched the processed crap and truly eat well.  I didn’t even whisper the word “diet.”

What do you think?  Is this a wake up call to examine your eating habits?  How could you improve?  Do you want to improve?  If you want more ideas, please read my post on the Top Ten Food Rules from Michael Pollan’s book.

By the way, if you’re a fan of my site, please join the mailing list.  It’s over in the right hand column.  I’d love you to join us for a slightly more irreverent take on fitness and healthy living.

Lisa

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.

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7 Responses to How to Eat Well

  1. Health Votes September 27, 2010 at 10:14 am #

    Fruits are great for breakfast and even as an after breakfast snack. I like the idea about putting the right foods into our stomach first, if we have an empty stomach, the chips and stuffs will always be entertaining thoughts. Over all my eating habits are good and my metabolism is real fast, so whatever i eat it just get digested/burned and am always skinny :P

    So, i would just take your suggestion and “enjoy your day”

  2. Brooke September 27, 2010 at 2:30 pm #

    Your bit about “metabolism only slowing down a bit” reminds me of my mom…… who used to be so active, but now only goes on a few walks a week, since I don’t live nearby to motivate her. She blames her weight gain on “being in my 60′s and having a slower metabolism”. I call BS each and every time. (Esp being someone who’s been obese 2x in my life, who is currently close to a normal weight by way of healthy eating and regular exercise!)

    But, as always, we hear what we want to hear, right? ;)

  3. Lisa Johnson September 27, 2010 at 3:33 pm #

    Thanks Brooke, that particular point has been resonating with a lot of people. It’s an easy scapegoat but not an entirely accurate one … L–

  4. Joe Williams September 27, 2010 at 5:28 pm #

    Great tips, Lisa. I was surprised that we need such little protein and will check out the protein calculator – thanks for posting the link. I also “took the bait” and signed up for your newsletter :-)
    -Joe

  5. Lisa Johnson September 27, 2010 at 7:55 pm #

    Thanks Joe …

  6. Kris O'Connor September 28, 2010 at 9:26 am #

    Lisa –

    Another great post!

    Portions… sigh… I’ve actually started eating on my salad plates – I got some new pretty ones and it’s worked out really well!

    Fruits & veggies? I’ve been trying to eat a salad for a meal a few times a week – yummy & hearty salads w/ nuts and big flavor. Started sprinkling with pomegranates – crunchy sweet goodness ;-)

    Yes – we must commune with our friends over exercise! I don’t have that completely worked out, but I’ve tossed it out to a few folks. They other day my friend came over and we had a grand time in my back yard to some old school R&B – hehehe

    K

    K

  7. Lisa Johnson September 28, 2010 at 9:47 am #

    The salad plate is a great trick! I use it all the time too. Start thinking seasonally and try some sneaky things like using spaghetti squash instead of spaghetti or I use zucchini and I have a slicer doo-hickey that makes it look like spaghetti and I put some tomato sauce on that. That works great. L–

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