Over the past year I’ve gotten lots of questions about eating and diet. I never think I have a good answer either; there are so many factors that go into what works and what doesn’t (metabolism, activity level, age, sex, etc) that it’s nearly impossible to give accurate advice. It took me having an awesome trainer for about 8 months to figure it out and that’s only because he gave me a good base diet to work from. That being said, I have managed to work out a few things that are pretty applicable all around.
- Drink lots of water. By lots, I mean as close to a gallon a day as you can get. This does not include cokes, coffee, tea, or anything else. Be prepared to visit the little boy’s (or girl’s) room frequently.
- Eat more, smaller meals. Right now I’m doing 7 meals a day, but that’s not really necessary unless you’re exercising strenuously. Even breaking things up to 4-5 a day is good, like having a mid afternoon snack of raw veggies.
- When snacking, eat lots of vegetables. Fruit is good too, but be wary of the sugar content. Avoid dried fruit at all costs due to the extra sugar (dried pineapple is my kryptonite, fyi).
- Don’t eat out.
- If you do eat out, try to eat salads. Honey mustard the condiment in the grocery store is ok to eat, honey mustard dipping sauce and dressing generally are not. Try to go with salads that have grilled salmon, tuna, or chicken on them.
- Don’t eat the free bread.
- Do a little preemptive calorie legwork. Most big chains have their nutritional information posted online. Read up and make informed choices before you get there.
- If you’re like me and like Asian food, look for menu items with oyster sauce and make sure to ask for light sauce. Avoid eating rice too!
- In general, avoid restaurant starches like pastas, bread, potatoes, etc. The portions are huge. Try to swap it for a side salad instead.
- Many restaurants have vegetables on the menu. If they’re not steamed or grilled, it’s probably best to just get a side salad. Green beans aren’t that healthy cooked in bacon, and neither is corn steeped in butter.
- Speaking of vegetables, the order of general “good-for-you-ness”: green -> red -> orange -> yellow.
- Stick to lean meats as much as possible like chicken, fish, and turkey. Beef should be rarer in your diet. A good general rule of them is the fewer legs the better.
- Avoid sauces for flavor. Seasoning is ok, but get the sauce on the side or not at all.
- Don’t go to fast food places!
- Try to plan your meals in advance for the week. I’ve found that if I plan the menu in advance (and the nutritional info) I tend to eat out less.
- Carry your lunch to work- “quick” lunches at Hooters are an easy way to pack on the pounds.
- Last but not least, avoid alcohol like the plague.
There are literally tons of little substitutions you can make and never notice: light bread instead of regular, fat free cheese, fat free / light yogurt, sugar free jello, rice cakes (flavored are ok), I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. Do a little investigative grocery store shopping. Don’t worry about cheating; yes you will slip up from time to time. There will be that pie, or that beer, or whatever. Try to keep it in control and cheat only about once a week. Of course all of this is tons more effective with exercise, but we’re all busy people right? Worse comes to worse if you’re in the Mobile area, I can recommend a guy who will sweat it off of you pretty quick.