Confused About the Eating Thing
QUESTION: I work as a waitress
at a resort and you conducted a seminar there last summer.
I have to admit, I just stopped in for a minute to see what
all the noise was about, and I didn't leave until the seminar
was over (if you want me to send you a check I will). I missed
a lot of it but I got the jist of Supportive Nutrition. I
understand why sugar is going to make fat loss a struggle,
I understand why fat free doesn't mean "good for you,"
and I can honestly say I learned more about reading food labels
than I ever thought there was to know. I also have the exercise
part down. I'm just confused about the eating thing. I've
been doing OK, and I lost 22 pounds (I know I'm not supposed
to weigh myself, but I knew it would be good news) since the
seminar, but now I want to start to do it perfectly. I really
think I can get myself into the kind of shape the fitness
girls are in, but I'm not sure how to improve my eating. I
still live at home and my parents always eat beef and pork.
I'm driving them crazy trying to get them to eat better. Can
I eat lean ground beef? Is there a cut of steak that's OK?
Can I eat pork? Can I eat penne pasta with fat-free spaghetti
sauce? Is seven-grain bread OK (it has sugar on the ingredient
list), and can I use bread crumbs or some kind of breading
on my baked chicken breasts? You can see I'm confused. Help!
ANSWER: Hmmm . . . . the
first question is, do I answer someone who admits "sneaking
into a seminar" without buying a ticket? Well, since
you were complimentary . . . why not?
I answer the questions you asked, let me assure you if you've
lost 22 pounds and maintained or gained muscle, you're doing
great. Sometimes little shifts in training and/or slight adjustments
in caloric intake can be all you need to take things to the
After a brief response, I'll refer
you to some other articles that might help you get a better
grip on Supportive Eating, and you can always order my EAT!
book or ENJOY! recipe guide for actual meal suggestions.
Lean ground beef is OK, assuming
it's really lean. As I'm sure you've found after coming to
understand label deception, many foods labeled "lean"
get 40% of their calories or more from fat. Always look at
calories per serving and calories from fat and try to opt
for protein foods that get less than 20% of their calories
Flank steak is typically leaner
than most of the already ground beef you're going to find
in the meat section. You can always ask the folks who work
in the meat department to grind up chicken breasts or flank
steak if you want to make burgers and meatloaf that is supportive.
The leaner the pork, the better.
Think of it as a matter of degree. No food is necessarily
"bad," but you want to make the best choices that
are both possible and comfortable.
It's far simpler to get lean cuts
of chicken breast and turkey breast than it is to find equally
lean cuts of beef or pork, but you don't have to eliminate
beef and pork if they're foods you enjoy.
Don't attempt nutritional perfection,
as it really isn't possible. What I try to do is provide people
an awareness and then empower them to make better choices.
If you're going to use no fat spaghetti sauce, that's fine,
but choose the one with the lowest sugar content. Also note
that you don't have to use an entire serving. With sauces
and dressings use just enough to provide the taste you enjoy.
The less sugar something has the
better. If there are a few grams in a meal that's high in
protein, complex carbs, and fiber, it's OK. Pastas, breads,
and breading are not going to be optimal. They are manufactured
and refined which means a machine somewhere did some of the
work your body was going to do. That makes the meals less
"thermic" and less likely to contribute to a metabolic boost.
Refined carbs are easily converted to triglycerides and stored
as fat. That doesn't mean never eat bread or pasta. Just don't
consider them staples in your nutrition program if fat loss
is a goal.
You can make the best bread and
pasta choices possible so explore ingredient labels and you'll
likely find the better options in a natural market (as opposed
to a mainstream supermarket or grocery store). Continue to
examine labels. The words "bleached, processed, and enriched"
can be translated to "return it to the shelf." Look for breads
made with whole grains, recognizable grains, such as oats,
Also be on the lookout for hydrogenated
fats. I hope that's enough to put your mind at ease and allow
you to take things to the next level as far as your own fitness.
If the day comes that you ever opt to compete in a fitness
competition, give yourself 8-12 weeks before the event to
eat "really clean," avoiding breads, pastas, etc.
completely and striving to make every meal a supportive balance
of vital nutrients.
The following articles might
[ When Supportive Eating Gets Boring
[ Healthy Foods? ]
[ I Know What I Should Eat .
. . But . . . ]
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