If we needed any more reason to get healthy and start eating a balanced, and nutritious diet, a Swedish study suggests short term over-eating could impact your long term health and increase the difficulty of weight loss and maintenance (I've included the study at the end of this post). This study has wide reaching implications, as many people put off 'healthy eating' or starting to live a healthy lifestyle- always procrastinating, and going overboard now, while promising to make it up next week etc. If you are a person who has ever said "oh, I'll start healthy eating on Monday, and indulge until then", know that putting things off will make them that much harder in the long run. Besides a declining metabolic rate, we also lose substantial muscle and our levels of CoQ10 diminish as we age. It's not black or white, all or nothing. Think of it as a lifestyle, not a diet. Start making healthy, incremental changes: think at the margin. So whether or not you have that extra spoon-full, extra bag of chips, glass of wine... take into account what you're giving up in the long run and what the trade offs are. Why sabotage your health now and make it harder for yourself when you finally take your health seriously. Your health at the moment is all we have! Take care of it and nourish yourself with good food.
Balance and moderation is the key- as is mindfulness! Think of the reasons WHY you are eating- is it hunger or is it anxiety, depression, stress, rejection, issues with self-worth, loneliness and fear that you are trying to avoid and numb yourself to? What void are you trying to fill: hunger or an emotional void?
This is the time to reach out and ask for help. If you struggle with binge eating, stress/emotional eating, know that you are not alone. Asking for help is the hardest but most rewarding part; if separates us from the shame we carry. Putting it off won't make asking for help and getting help any easier! Learn to cope with stress in other ways than turning to food.
Simply staying mindful of what we are eating will help us maintain our health in years to come. Enjoy the taste, and focus on the food you are eating. If you want the slice of cake, by all means- Go for it! Indulging is part of a healthy lifestyle and mindset; just don't eat the entire cake! Don't take the box of cereal/ bag of chips, pint of ice cream with you to the computer or TV. You'll be so focused on what you're doing that you won't notice your hand reaching in until the box is empty!
I like to use the analogy of eating like we are trying to set an example for our younger selves. What does healthy eating look like to you, and how would you want your child to eat? Be proactive, act now and start to treat yourself the way you would want to be treated. We are adaptive by nature- pretty soon living a healthy lifestyle will come as naturally as breathing.
-Substitute high fat items for lower fat/calories/sugar options.
-Cut back on your sugar intake and processed foods. They offer no nutritional benefits.
- Make sure you eat every 3hrs or so. This way you maintain stable blood sugar levels, and you never become ravenous as a result (and then consuming the entire contents of your fridge).
-Plan ahead, and prep before time. Have healthy snacks ready to go. Make meals 'ready to go' and freeze extras or make large amounts that you can then have ready during the week.
-Add veggies to your meals and baking items. Use cauliflower/pumpkin puree, butternut squash/yogurt/cottage cheese/apple sauce in your baked good instead of oil. Adding broccoli, asparagus, spinach, artichoke, peppers on your pizza will increase the antioxidant and vitamin levels, as well as filling you up with more fiber, so that you are less likely to eat the entire pie. This also cuts calories, as it limits the amount of unhealthy ingredients you can put on it.
-Buy frozen veggies. I always have frozen broccoli and cauliflower in my freezer. This is fantastic for when I make large pasta bowl- I simply dump the whole bag (once cooked) into the pasta and stir it all up. This provides fiber, bulk, nutrients, as well as limiting the simple carbs from the pasta.
It comes down to asking yourself "what am I worth", because we truly are what we eat, and what we are is in our circle of influence. It determines our self-respect, because it mirrors how we view ourselves. As the saying goes: "The person I am today, is because of the choices I made yesterday'.
What are some strategies you use/could use to be more mindful of what you eat? If you could set an example for your 12yr old self, what would you tell her and what would you do differently?
What are some minor adjustment you could make in the short term, that would help you in the long run?
Do you struggle with emotional eating? Sometimes getting to the root of the problem requires us to face some ugly truths/feeling that we are trying to suppress. Other times, it really is about making better choices and practicing mindfulness. Take a personal inventory, and see if your lifestyle is in alignment with your goal, and how you want to feel and live. Our health is such a strong determinant in all that we do, and knowing we can set ourselves up for a lifetime or energy, vitality, and health is empowering and motivating.
If you have concerns, or need help, I am including the link to the National Eating Disorder Information center:
Here is the study:
Short-Term Overeating Could Make Long-Term Weight Loss Tougher
Swedish study suggests pounds put on during high-cal, low-exercise periods stick around
By Alan Mozes
(HealthDay News) -- If you think a few weeks of slothful behavior and caloric overindulgence can be easily worked off at the gym, think again.
New Swedish research suggests that just a month's worth of unhealthy living changes physiology, making piled-on fat even harder to lose.
"A short period of [over-eating] can have later long-term effects," said study co-author Dr. Torbjorn Lindstrom, an associate professor in the department of medical and health sciences within the faculty of health sciences at Linkoping University. "Based on this, it can be recommended to avoid very high food-intake that might occur during shorter periods in normal life."
Lindstrom and his colleagues report their findings in the current issue of Nutrition & Metabolism. They focused on 18 normal-weight healthy participants (12 men and six women), averaging 26 years of age.
For one month, all 18 were placed on a restricted physical activity regimen that involved the equivalent of no more than 5,000 steps per day. Five thousand steps, the team noted, is the threshold for a "sedentary" lifestyle, whereas a "physically active" lifestyle involved 10,000 steps or more.
In addition, participants embarked on diets involving a 70 percent jump in daily caloric intake -- mainly from fast food -- amounting to about 5,750 calories ingested per day. The research also included a comparison group who did not change their diet/activity.
By the end of the month, the feasting group gained an average of 14 pounds. Their fat mass, specifically, was found to have gone up from about 20 percent of total body weight, to nearly 24 percent after the month-long intervention.
Participants lost most (more than 10 pounds) of that new weight over the ensuing six months. However, one year after the study's end, participants still registered a noticeable gain in fat mass (of about 3 pounds on average) compared with their pre-study status.
This fat stuck around despite the fact that the participants had returned to their lower-calorie pre-study diet and more active routines.
Two-and-a-half years after the study, fat mass gains were even greater, registering just under 7 pounds on average, the researchers found. There was no such long-term change among the control group who had stuck to their usual diet.
Based on the findings, the researchers conclude that a brief period of excessive over-eating, coupled with reined-in activity, may change body composition and lead to a significant boost in in body fat levels. And these changes appear to endure, despite a return to healthier behaviors.
Study author Asa Ernersson, a doctoral candidate at the university, said it's tough to tell whether older individuals might be impacted any more or less than younger people.
"Of, course there is a possibility that age has an important role for losing body weight gained after a short term period of overindulgence," he said. "But from this study we cannot draw any such conclusions, since most of the participants were between 20 and 30 years old."
Both Lindstrom and Ernersson said that more research exploring such questions is needed.
For more on healthy eating, visit the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
SOURCES: Asa Ernersson, doctoral candidate, Linkopings University, Linkoping, Sweden; Torbjorn Lindstrom, M.D., associate professor, department of medical and health sciences, faculty of health sciences, Linkoping University, Linkoping, Sweden; August 2010 Nutrition & Metabolism