Today’s post is about the joy of eating, and specifically, the joy of eating more.
But before we get started, I wanted to let you know that this blog post is available via audio as well.
If you’re out and about — driving, working out, on a walk — feel free to catch this post via audio by clicking on the media player below.
OK, onto the topic of eating more…
This post is perfect if you’ve ever thought:
- How can I eat less?
- How can I stay under ___ calories per day?
- The reason I can’t lose weight is because I suck at restricting calories.
- Skipping meals is the only way to lose or maintain weight.
- I don’t understand why I’m not losing weight. I skip breakfast, have a tiny lunch, and a small dinner.
At one time or another, I’ve asked myself these very questions. And sometimes — even after all of the work I’ve done around nutrition and healthy lifestyle coaching — I’ll find myself relapsing into these questions when my body isn’t right where I think it should be. Which is a fool’s game anyway — demanding that your body be perfect. But that’s a different post for a different day, okay?
Today, I want to talk about the concept of quality vs. quantity — and why focusing on calorie restriction won’t deliver the long-term weight loss and health-related results you seek.
Calories: So Over It
Have you ever bought those 100-calorie packs of cookies or crackers?
No need to be embarrassed if you have, or currently do. I totally get the impulse. After all, food marketing and nutrition trends over the last 50 years have focused mostly on calories. That is, when they’re not busy vilifying the grams of fat or carbs.
But let’s take a few moments to really think about this. What do calories even have to do with the bigger picture?
You see, calories only tell part of the story. And the calories that appear on food packages aren’t even specific, detail-driven “calories.” They’re just no-name calories, as if the type of calorie doesn’t matter.
But I think we can all agree that’s simply not true.
Because 100 calories of Oreos is much different than 100 calories of broccoli, right?
Food — and the calories it contains — is so much more than just calories, or fat grams, or carbs.
Food is information.
Yes, we ask food to play many roles in our lives — we turn to it for comfort, entertainment, connection, soothing, stress relief.
But as far as our bodies are concerned, food is really just information.
As Dr. Mark Hyman, bestselling author and Director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, says: “Food contains information that speaks to our genes, not just calories for energy. We are learning from research in the field of nutrigenomics, that good [food] “talks” to our DNA, switching on or off genes that lead to health or disease. What you eat programs your body with messages of health or illness.”
I think this last part is worth repeating:
What you eat programs your body with messages of health or illness.
See how different that is than focusing on no-name calories, as if 1500 calories of 100-calorie cookie-packs, rice cakes, and sugarless soda could possibly reap the same health benefits as 1500 calories comprised of green smoothies, salads, soups, and other healthy fare?
That’s why I don’t even focus on calories when I’m coaching clients on nutrition and healthy lifestyle habits.
But I get why people still cling to the calorie-shame that’s been drummed into their heads over the years. If you still need some convincing, check out what these health professionals have to say:
Why You Don’t Need To Count Calories Ever Again, by Dr. Frank Lipman, for Mind Body Green
Why Calories Don’t Matter, by Dr. Mark Hyman, for Huffington Post
It’s NOT The Calories – Quality is What Counts, by Dave Asprey, Bulletproof.com
Quality Over Quantity
When it comes to coaching my clients, quality is queen (or king!).
Instead of focusing on eating less, I encourage clients to start out simply by adding more unrefined fresh fruit and vegetables to their diets — at every meal, ideally.
Adding more unrefined, whole-food fruit, vegetables, intact whole grains, nuts, and seeds to their plate provides a flood of antioxidants, nutrients, fiber and healthy fats — or, as Dr. Hyman calls it, “information” — that the body can then use to balance blood sugar, strengthen the immune system, support digestion, boost metabolism, power up detoxification, and promote overall healing and longevity.
Focusing on the “adding in” of fruits and vegetables serves additional purposes as well:
- The healthier foods start to “crowd out” the unhealthier foods.
- The concept of adding in is more empowering for our subconscious mind, which can help us feel less deprived, restricted, or bummed out by dietary changes.
- Over time, our palate changes, and we start to crave and prefer healthier foods.
- Gradually, the fiber, nutrients, and compounds in the healthier food can improve the composition of our gut bacteria — by “feeding” the good bacteria and starving the bad — which is a real game-changer in terms of optimal digestion, metabolism, and disease resistance.
How Eating More Can Help You
Many of my clients have a longstanding, calorie-counting past. Which has resulted in common patterns such as meal-skipping or under-eating — punctuated by daily installments of overeating or bingeing. This yo-yo dynamic creates all sorts of havoc with our metabolism, and it’s completely unsustainable. Not to mention completely crazy-making.
So here’s what I recommend: eat regularly throughout the day, and eat enough to make you gently satisfied.
In other words, eat enough so you don’t leave a meal hungry (or skip it entirely). That way, you won’t be starving when your next mealtime comes around.
And at mealtime, eat more — and specifically, I mean more fruits and vegetables than anything else on your plate — and eat slowly. This will give your tummy adequate time to send the “I’m full. Stop eating!” message up to the brain, and as a result, stop you from overeating.
When my clients follow this dietary pattern, they find that they:
- Have more energy and focus for their work and family commitments.
- They’re in a better mood, because they’re not “hangry” all the time.
- They have better energy for their workouts, and a faster recovery.
- Their digestion improves from the added fiber and healthy fats.
- They’re able to lose weight more effectively, and keep it off long-term.
What Eating More Looks Like
It often helps to talk specifics, right? Especially if you’re initially a bit skeptical about this whole eating-more thing.
So here are some examples of that a typical day looks like:
- Breakfast: Your choice of the Mango Kale-Ada Smoothie or Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding with fresh berries
- Snack: Half an apple with 1-2 TB of unsweetened almond butter
- Lunch: Roasted Beet and Arugula Salad with protein of choice
- Dinner: A bowl of Creamy Tomato Soup with a large green salad garnished with olives, pumpkin seeds and red peppers
- Evening: a cup of cinnamon or licorice tea, with a splash of almond milk
This is actually a sample menu from my upcoming coaching program, Camp Kale.
And you know what’s fun about this eating-more menu plan? My clients often tell me they’re still full by the time dinner rolls around. In other words, they’re not starving at dinnertime — so they’re not tempted to overeat right before bedtime. They feel satisfied, satiated and empowered all throughout the day, which is always a great way to feel.
Want to Find Out More About Eating More to Lose More?
If you’re looking to lose weight — or simply balance your body from a summer full of treats and parties — then sign up for my next online nutrition and lifestyle coaching program, Camp Kale.
This 21-day program will provide you with the guidance, accountability, and resources you need to develop significant results — day by day, step by step, and small win by small win.
You’ll learn about powerful practices, foods, and habits you need to design and customize your own personal health transformation.
Camp Kale takes place October 9-29, 2016 — that’s when I’ll be providing live coaching and support, in addition to the meal plans and recipes. However, the content is yours to keep — the meal plans, the recipes, the lifestyle coaching and tips — and you’ll be able to access it long after the live session of Camp Kale ends.
For details and registration, simply click on the graphic below. I’d love helping support you in your long-term goals and dreams for a healthier lifestyle.