It happens to all of us who have made this lifestyle change sooner or later. A complete reversal of the way we look at food. Sure, it starts out innocently enough, lower calories, have a single cheeseburger instead of a double, and that works for a while, but then it changes. Food becomes more than just food. it becomes fuel. The things they say about sugary sodas and pure sugar candy being empty calories is true. You need more than just energy calories, you need protein, unsaturated fats, vitamins and minerals. You have to feed your body, especially as you increase your workload and exercise load such as training for a half marathon.
It struck me this morning in the kitchen, as I looked around at some of the things in my kitchen, things I wouldn’t have touched six months ago. Two different flavors of Kashi cereal full of nuts and granola and “fiber twigs”. Kashi 7 grain pita crisps (which I am snacking on now with some hummus). Ground turkey. Turkey burgers (which are delicious). Sweet potato fries. Weight Watchers Ice Cream. Even Michelob Ultra, low calorie beer, which I used to laugh at but now it makes perfect sense.
Low calorie is great, but it has to have some substance. Take the Kashi cereal. It actually has more calories in a half cup serving than a sugary cereal. But, in exchange for a couple more calories you get a ton of protein and fiber to energize you and keep you full. What do you get from your 110 calories of Lucky Charms? Sugar. Carbs. No protein, no fiber, hungry again in an hour. The sweet potato fries, higher carbs and higher sugar than white potatoes, bad right? No.. less calories, lower fat (in prepared/frozen fries obviously raw is no fat), higher protein. Also, most vegetables are freebies. They are mostly fiber and water. Pickles? 0 calories. Salsa? 10 calories per 2 tablespoons. (Yes, you gotta go easy on the chips, but load up on the salsa). My salad? 25 calories for the lettuce, so just go easy on the cheese, light dressing and croutons and maybe 200 calories.
I read labels now, and I don’t just compare calories. 300 calories of protein beats 100 calories of sugar and I know that now. Not all low cal foods are created equal, and I know I’ve complained about this before, low sugar foods are high fat, low fat foods are notoriously high carb. I’ve started leaning towards things that are more overall healthy, like Kashi, Fiber One, Special K etc rather than something that is only low in one macronutrient. Like Snackwells. I used to love them. Low fat cookies right? *shakes head* Just as much sugar and carbs as a chips ahoy. Reduced Fat Chips Ahoys? Oh yeah.. love those… not….. good…… I haven’t bought a single pack of cookies since I joined MyFitnessPal. I ate what I had in the house, logged their calories but bought no more. I still eat potato chips when I make a sandwich at home, but I don’t eat them as a snack. Now I am more into chips and salsa, cheese and crackers (good protein), pita and hummus like I just had. My one sweet thing I have in the house right now is some Weight Watchers Ice cream sandwiches. 140 cal, 1.5 gram fat… not too bad. I’m eating more lean protein. Fish and Turkey. Not nearly as much beef, and chicken only occasionally. I have frozen 4 ounce Tilapia filets in my freezer. Bake em up in the oven, it’s like 120 calories, even with a coating of bread crumbs it’s less than 200. Good unsaturated fats, although tilapia is not a particularly fatty fish.
My diet has completely changed. And it shows in 70+ pounds of weight loss. If you want to make a change in your life, you have to change your relationship with food. It’s not easy. I’ve been at this over 2 years and some of these revelations have only come in the last 2 months. But you can do it. We all can.