What is healthy eating and can you lose weight doing it? It seems like a strange question that should have a resounding “Yes” answer. I think the answer is not so black and white.
Recently, I asked someone what a typical day was like for her, including what and when her meals were, she said, “I eat healthy. I just can’t get this weight off.” I asked her to explain to me exactly what she was eating and at what times. Here’s, basically, what she said: Healthy Brand X cereal with flax seed and whole grains for breakfast, yogurt with fruit for lunch, almonds and raisin for a snack, and some dinner that was apparently not that healthy for she didn’t’ reveal what it was and said typically it was salad with chicken.
A number of things went through my mind. One, what she was eating may or may not be that healthy. Two, if she didn’t eat a healthy dinner last night, I bet there are many “atypical” nights when she doesn’t make the optimal choice. Three, she’s not eating enough protein (maybe not enough calories, too, based on what she described her activity level as.) Four, eating healthy doesn’t mean eating to get lean (this was a real eye opener when someone said that to me – I realized I eat for health and weight maintenance, but I’m not going to get “cut” eating what I eat!) Let’s break it down some more.
1. Her food may or may not be healthy. She’s eating grains and dairy, which is NOT considered healthy by many nutritional coaches, authors and doctors. While this is far from the mainstream belief, the consumption of grains in this woman’s breakfast cereal and dairy from the yogurt at lunch is considered a big no-no by authors and researchers (check out The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain, just one of the many books on the subject.).
Here’s another point. Many, many people have food intolerances to dairy and gluten, the protein found in wheat, and don’t know it! This is really important to consider because you’ve been eating dairy and whole grains your whole life and think you’re fine. It’s just that you can’t seem to lose any weight, you constantly feel bloated, get foggy brained, get headaches, and have gas (this is not normal.)
My point is this: eating foods that your body doesn’t agree with is not healthy.
2. Her “atypical” unhealthy meal that night was probably very typical. It’s amazing how often people are describing what they just ate the day before and then proceed to tell me how that’s not their usual eating patterns. More than likely it is typical. They’re probably eating garbage more often than they’d like to admit to me, or themselves. Get real and write it down. You can lie to me and you can lie to yourself, but you cannot lie to your body.
3. She’s not eating enough protein. Clean, lean protein should be consumed at every meal. It slows down digestion, it maintains and builds muscle, there’s a higher thermogenic effect when you eat protein (more calories are burned digesting protein compared to some other foods) and it makes you feel full so you don’t over-consume at your next meal.
4. Eating healthy doesn’t mean you are eating to get lean. You might be eating some of the best foods in the world, but if you’re not eating the proper combination of foods, enough or too much of them or your timing of eating is not optimal, than you are not necessarily eating to get lean. Walnuts provide your body with healthy omega-3 fatty acids, but eating too many will prevent you from losing weight.