How I Got Started...
When I finally decided to make a change in myself, I would venture to guess that my eating habits were very similar to the average American. I do know that they were very similar to my peers.
Looking back, I do not think that I ate an exceptional quantity. In fact, there were many times when I would go without eating all day. I usually ate at home during the week and went out to dinner on the weekends. It was my 'date' time with my husband. I have never liked sweets much so my poor nutrition came mainly from other areas.
Eating 5 Times A Day:
The first alteration I made was eating five times a day. As I mentioned previously, there used to be many times I did not eat all day. It was a dramatic change to eat by the clock. In fact, I still eat at 8am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm, and 8pm. This might be adjusted somewhat due to my workout schedule.
While I admit this was difficult at first, I cannot deny the huge impact that just this one activity made in my energy level and my digestive system.
I did not have the highs and lows normally associated with eating a couple large meals during the day. I felt steady and constantly fueled. I did not feel hungry and, in the beginning, I even had to force myself to eat when it was time.
Our typical American portion sizes are way out of control! I ate portion sizes that included proteins that were about the size of my palm and carbohydrate portions about the size of my fist in the beginning. I found it too overwhelming to be weighing and measuring at first so those were my guidelines.
Later down the road I did weigh my portions until I got to the point where I could tell just by looking at the food it's approximate weight. They were and still are about 4-6 oz. of protein, 4-6 oz. of carbohydrates and 2 tsp., 3 times a day of flax oil. I also eat green, fibrous vegetables as much as possible.
It can be real tempting to not follow through on 5-6 meals a day. Not eating became cheating to me. It takes a lot of planning and preparation to eat that many times every day and have it consist of nutritionally clean foods. However, it is worth it. It can even be fun facing the challenge of finding foods to bring with you when you will not be at home.
I have been seen at several Scottish Festivals walking around eating 4 oz. grilled chicken breast on a stick that I prepared at home while those surrounding me were eating funnel cakes and sausages on a stick!
Eating The Best Choice Of Foods:
Next, after I committed to eating 5 smaller meals a day, I had to make sure that I was eating the best choice of foods. My number one change was to cut out absolutely as much processed food and sugar as possible. This ended up being monumental! I am convinced that action played an extremely important role in the change of my body composition.
As I stated previously, I have never been a big sweet eater, but you know the phrase, "I never met a carbohydrate I didn't like..." that was me! Now I am NOT knocking carbohydrates. I love carbs and think they are vital for energy production.
The problem was that most of my fun, comfort, unhealthy, processed foods that I had previously enjoyed were carbs. Things I gave up included chips, crackers, non-whole grain bread products, etc. I began eating whole grains and very natural foods. I asked myself how much that food had gone through after being harvested until I ate it. The less, the better. My favorite carbohydrates are oats (I eat rolled, steel cut and stone ground) and yams!
I slowly changed my proteins to healthier, leaner selections. I initially changed from regular ground beef to a leaner longhorn beef. I also ate a lot of grilled chicken breast. As I began to get more and more used to removing fat from my diet, I continued to switch over to almost all fish, whey protein and egg whites.
For me, it would have been too difficult to jump to a drastic change all at once. I had to 'detox' my body from craving and expecting the fat found in my previous choice of proteins. As things progressed and I removed the fat from my diet and switched to lean proteins, an occasional cheat of my former foods would make me sick and I lost the desire to cheat.
It is for that reason that I do not think that cheating every now and then is such a bad thing. It actually kept me on track when I realized that my body did not tolerate those foods any longer.
It is also good to keep some selected fats in the diet. I opted for flax oil as my healthy fat and use it daily. I try to avoid fat from other sources as much as possible with the exception of the good fats found naturally in fish and oats.
Cut Out Sugars & Soft Drinks:
Additionally, I cut out sugar and soft drinks, including diet sodas. It was not until I started solely drinking water that I realized how terrible all that carbonation really made me feel. Water is refreshing and keeps my energy up. It is also less expensive than other beverages.
I cut out sugar by giving up alcoholic drinks and whatever sweets were left in my diet. I did, however, discover sugar-free Jell-O. It helped to satisfy my urge for sweets without sugar and fat. A whole box of Jell-O is only 40 calories and you get the benefit of additional water intake.
Read Will Brink's Book:
I mention yet again that I read and reread Will Brink's book, "Diet Supplements Revealed".
I got involved with his member's forum and used his nutrient calculators. It made it so much easier to figure out what percentage of each nutrient I needed to eat per meal and per day. If you want to help avoid the temptation to make excuses, get hold of that book and use it.
Remember, I did not go from step one to step 10 overnight. I went through a progression. Just changing to five smaller meals a day was a big adjustment. I never would have stuck to my plan if I tried to change all of my foods to perfect choices overnight. By gradually making better and better choices, my body adapted and appreciated it.
At this time I am no longer tempted by the wrong foods and know that I would most likely get sick if I did not eat properly. I have conquered my battle with food so that I now eat for nutrition and to fortify and energize my body. I no longer eat just to fit in, or for self-comfort or boredom.
My relationship with food is now a respectful one. By choosing whole, nutritious foods I can appreciate their value and taste the way they were created. I no longer find the preservative and chemical taste of processed foods appealing and addicting. I certainly do not miss the feeling I used to get in my abdomen after eating fatty foods.
I now respect myself and my efforts enough to choose only the best foods to enter my body. There is some truth in the saying "You are what you eat." My food choices no longer make me ashamed of 'what I am.'