The standard supermarket diet is rich in sugar, saturated fat, and sodium. You know, ice cream, frozen pizzas, chips, cookies, canned soups, Lunchables, mac ‘n cheese in a box/can/freezer… the list is overwhelmingly endless. Perhaps you are all too familiar with some of these goodies?
Research suggests that people aren’t the only critters who like these foods. So do rats! In fact, supermarket foods can cause obesity in rats. That is, rats who were fed their standard rat chow maintained a normal weight. But when researchers fed the rats supermarket foods, they ended up overweight—that is, until the researchers took away the supermarket foods. The rats then lost weight when they returned to eating rat chow.
There's little doubt that fats, sugar, and salt stimulate us to eat more than we need! Hence, your best bet is to eat closer to the earth by choosing more unprocessed foods that have little or no added sugar and salt, and hopefully less saturated fat. When you go food shopping, try to shop primarily on the perimeter of the store, where you can find the fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and lowfat dairy foods.
Of course, you can find healthy foods in cans, jars, and boxes. But try to make more of your meals from fresh ingredients. You’ll help yourself manage your weight more easily, ad also please the local farmers who want you to buy their produce.
Too many of my clients stay clear of bananas. They perceive them as being fattening. As one runner said “I love bananas but I don’t eat them. They are soooo fattening.”
False! While a banana is less watery and more calorie-dense than, let’s say, an apple, 100 calories of a banana is no more fattening than 100 calories of an apple. Both are excellent sources of carbs to fuel your muscles, as well as health protective vitamins and minerals.
What does 100 calories of a banana look like? It’s a medium-sized banana that’s about 7-8 inches long (peeled) and weighs about 4 ounces (peeled).
Now mind you, the same people who avoid bananas tend to eat large apples. That apple could easily weigh half a pound (8 ounces) and cost you 120 calories!
As with every food, there is a “small portion” that offers fewer calories than a “large portion.” Be aware, the calories in all fruits can add up quickly. Yes, fruit is a healthy source of calories, but the calories still count if you are watching your weight. So enjoy medium bananas and large apples -- and rest assured, you will not "get fat" from the banana.
“Can I really eat toast for breakfast and then have a sandwich for lunch???” my weight-conscious client asked me with fear in her eyes. “Why not?” I responded.
“Because carbs are fattening, aren’t they? … Shouldn’t I be limiting my bread intake?”
“Carbs are NOT fattening; fatty foods are fattening,” I assured her and suggested she limit fats -- butter on the toast, mayo on the sandwich. “The conversion of carb into body fat is a tough conversion,” I explained and sent her home to experiment with a higher-carb eating plan.
When she came back a week later, she reported she was really enjoying eating a sandwich instead of a salad for lunch; she felt more satisfied and her workouts were better because her muscles were better fueled. The carbs in the bread got converted into glycogen, an important source of energy for active people. Oil in salad dressing, in comparison, had been leaving her muscles unfueled.
If you are bread-phobic, think again. Experiment with swapping some protein- or fat-calories for some bread, and then observe the benefits:
-You enjoy the bread.
-Your workouts are better.
-You don’t “get fat”!
If you need help with taking the fear out of foods such as bread, bagels. and pasta, I suggest you meet with a sports dietitian (use the referral network at www.SCANdpg.org). The section on weight management in my Sports Nutrition Guidebook can also be helpful.