Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Healthy weight loss and maintenance. Is it all about calories or is it about just eating real foods?

Happy New Year!

Since it is the start of another new year, a time when frustrated people try all kinds of things to lose weight I think a post about healthy eating is in order.

I belong to the website Sparkpeople so I can track the micro-nutrients in my food from time, I am not really big on consistently tracking though because I find I get a little OCD about it.  I find myself eating because I have extra calories for my day left even though I'm not really hungry or conversely, beating myself up because I am extra hungry on a given day and eat over my "limit".

So my question is, Can one maintain/lose weight without obsessively tracking calories?  Most weight loss websites and message boards participants would have you believe that it is simply not possible, and on the message boards if you dare to suggest such a thing may be possible your intelligence and sanity will be put into question because everyone knows weight loss and maintenance is all about the laws of thermodynamics.  Eat more than you burn = weight gain.  Eat less than you burn = weight loss.  Right?

Or is it?

What if every single human isn't exactly the same?  Our bodies are complex and ever changing.  Since the day we were born and every day since what we eat, drink, put on and even breathe into our bodies affects how our bodies function.  Our digestive systems are seemingly the same and yet the types of bacteria and organisms that live in our bodies and help us digest food could never be exactly the same in any two people.  Two different people can eat the exact same meal and digest different amounts of nutrients from that food based on how well they chewed, how much stomach acid they have and how efficient the bacteria in the gut are at extracting nutrients from the food.

I am also of the opinion that the human body is better able to digest real foods, foods that have no additives, preservatives and "modified" foods in them.  I think that these additives, preservatives and "modified" foods confuse the body so it doesn't know what to do with these foods.  That's why I choose to eat a clean diet.  Whole unprocessed foods, low/no added sugars, limited grains.  When I shop I buy ingredients, my cart looks like a rainbow and I love it!  The more colour the better.  If it comes in a box, read those ingredients carefully.

I don't subscribe to everything in moderation either.  I don't believe things like Skittles should ever be eaten as part of a healthy diet.  Although I do like to eat homemade apple/rhubarb crisp with fresh whipped cream on top or a homemade gluten free cookie from time to time so I do enjoy treats.  I just think even treats should be made from real foods.  And believe it of not treats can have nutritional value too!

Amazingly I have been able to maintain my weight for years without tracking every single calorie consumed.  And considering all it takes is 20 extra calories a day to gain 10 lbs over 10 years I'd say my body is doing a fantastic job of regulating my weight on it's own.  Is it because I only eat real whole foods?  I think so.

So before you try any new diet ask yourself is it sustainable and healthy?  Eating real foods is something everyone can do to be healthy and happy in 2013!

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