Eating less is NOT the solution. The solution is to eat BALANCED for a healthier diet.
Restriction is the restraint or limitation against the use or enjoyment of something. Going on and off “diets” and focusing too much on numbers can drive you crazy. It drove me crazy. Truth is, it can damage your metabolism & your relationship with food. It may begin with healthy intentions but later develop into bad habits. There is no quick-fix!
Restriction use to control me. Restriction made me content at first because I ate less, but it hurt me emotionally in the long run. I saw food as an “enemy”. I knew I needed food to support my body but I tried to limit my consumption as much as possible. I ignored hunger signals from my body. The entire time, I kept convincing myself I’ll be okay. So I continued to under-eat and overexercise.
I use to be afraid of consuming too many carbohydrates. My main carb intake was from fruits and vegetables. I stayed away from grains – breads, muffins, rice or pastas. I also use to be afraid of fats. I was trying to limit my caloric intake so restriction on these two food groups were my solution. How did it turn out? Not well. Carbohydrates is your body’s main source of fuel. It provides energy to your cells and necessary for many other functions of your body! Fats help you absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K). Fats also insulate your body and fills your fat cells. The fats you consume gives your body essential fatty acids. These essential fatty acids (omega 3 & omega 6) are only available from foods.
My restriction of carbohydrates & fat caused me to develop migraines that would last for weeks. It would intensify during random times of the day but become mild when I’m less active/resting. I also had low energy, low blood sugar & irregular hormone levels.
How does weight gain happen?
Weight gain happens when you consume more calories than your body expends. This is all about calories in vs. calories out. There is no standardized caloric intake that works for everyone since we are all different. I don’t count calories, I listen to my body. I don’t plan out the calories I will consume at each meal. If I am hungry, I will eat foods that will fuel my body well. I will enjoy each bite and stop when I feel myself getting full.
Think about this…
If your goal is to consume as little food as possible, it will not work out in the long run. It’s not a decision you can keep for the rest of your life. It’s not sustainable! Also, if you eat foods you don’t enjoy, whats the point? You deserve to eat the foods you love. You deserve to eat that donut, cookie or slice of cake when you want. You deserve to enjoy your food.
How did I overcome restriction?
It took a lot of stepping out of my comfort zone. It was uncomfortable but I knew they were changes that needed to be made. I had fear that eating “more” would make me gain weight and lose all my results. I put away my scale & deleted my calorie counter app. I began developing habits of incorporating more balanced meals. This meant whole grains (higher in carbs), protein & healthy fats are EACH meal. At first, it felt forced but eventually, I began feeling much better in terms of alertness & energy levels. It was so so worth it! This process took several months. I can’t pinpoint the exact time or moment because it was all gradual.
1. Don’t starve yourself.
If you’re hungry, eat food! I’m not saying go splurge on a large bag of chips of entire box of cookies. Eat a balanced meal or snack. For breakfast, lunch and dinner, I always have a balanced meal with carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats! If I’m hungry mid-day, I’ll have some fruit, yogurt, crackers, carrots w/ hummus, snack bar or a baked good. I always try to have a healthy snack in my bag whenever I go out because I get hangry!! I don’t let myself get hungry so I snack VERY often.
2. Make most of your decisions/goals doable in the long run.
I have nothing against calorie counting but if it develops into an obsession, that’s when you should evaluate your purpose of using it. Most of the time, I make my decisions based on the future. If I don’t see myself sticking with it in the future, I don’t want it. I understand there are some short terms goals which are reasonable but I recommend to make MOST of your goals doable in the long run. You want to make goals that you can reach but not fall off track after reaching it. Restriction is not something doable in the long run. A balanced diet is something that is doable in the long run. There is no fad diet or quick-fix that will be permanent.
3. Everything in moderation.
This is so important but also very difficult. I admit, I still have trouble with this. When I eat something I really enjoy, I can’t stop! It’s normal to do that once in a while but when it happens too often, that is a habit to pay more attention to so you can fix it. I have a huge sweet tooth so I have my favorite sweet foods in moderation. I love donuts, cookies and ice cream a lot! I’ll have it several times a week. It keeps me sane.
4. Listen to your body & have patience.
We all need different amounts of food according to your body needs. Height, weight, body fat, muscle mass & physical activity all play a factor in calories expended. The best approach to understand how much you need to consume is listening to your body. Overtime, you will be able to estimate the amount of food you eat to get full. Creating healthy habits is not something that will happen overnight. Getting rid of bad habits will not happen overnight. This is why you need to have patience and understand that it will be worth it in the long run when you decide to make changes. Slowly incorporate gradual changes.
5. Love yourself through the whole process.
Restriction is a difficult thing and I understand that. Change because you care for your own body. Change because you love yourself enough to do so. Change because you want to look after your health. Change because you know it’s the better choice to do so! Don’t beat yourself down if you still have tendencies to restrict. It takes time. As long as you do everything with the right intentions, you’re on the right track. Appreciate & look after yourself emotionally, physically and mentally. Think about what choices are best for you long term.
What is a balanced diet?
A variety of fruits and vegetables lay the foundation of a healthy diet but it doesn’t stop there. You also need to consume whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats to get all your essential nutrients. Having a balanced diet is NOT restriction. You consume healthy foods but you also allow yourself to eat the “unhealthy foods” you enjoy in moderation. Remember that! A balanced diet is a diet that contains a variety from all food groups, focuses on portion sizing & emphasizes on moderation. Basically, making healthy choices when you can but allowing yourself to eat your favorite desserts/sweets without feeling guilty.
What do I eat now?
I eat almost everything! I stray away from foods with added trans fat, high fructose corn syrup, sugar alcohols, corn syrups, food coloring, MSG, gums, sodium nitrates/nitrites & other additives.
Carbohydrates: whole-grain breads, pasta, brown rice, quinoa, all vegetables, all fruits
Protein: grass-fed beef, chicken breast, turkey breast, salmon, tilapia, all types of fish, egg whites, beans, yogurt
Healthy Fats: olive oils, avocado oil, coconut oil, ghee butter, grass-fed butter, avocados, nut butters, nuts
If you go on my Instagram page, you can see all the foods I regularly eat. I have my staples but I really like to change things up every once in a while 🙂
I always try to choose whole-grain and whole-wheat products. However, I don’t restrict myself from eating refined grains. Sometimes, I just want it & that is totally fine!! There is nothing wrong with eating it from time to time.
Balanced eating has been something I’ve been emphasizing for the past year. It was why I changed my Instagram handle a year ago! I wanted my IG name to have a clearer representation of who I am and what I stand for. I focus on balanced eating, no restrictions & real foods. I have SO much appreciation for food now. I understand how important it is to fuel my body the healthy way. Carbohydrates and fats are not the enemy, they’re really my best friends now 🙂 I really see all of these past hardships as blessings in disguise. What once were weaknesses are now brought to the surface to make me stronger. They’re all lessons learned and I’m so grateful for that! I’m so grateful for God’s blessings in my life, the people he has provided me & the impact I’m able to make. I’m so thankful for each and every one of you!!