For some of us humans on the planet (like me!) eating right and weight management have been life-long struggles. It hasn’t been easy to learn how to eat without always being on a diet or feeling bad when I “cheated” on that never-ending diet. If I gave into my comfort foods, which was usually due to stress, I would end up gaining weight and feeling more helpless to change anything.
Then once middle-age hit, it was even harder to keep weight off or lose any. I just kept creeping up the scale every year. (Insert silent screaming emoji here). Until…
I finally found some secrets to transforming my eating habits and getting a healthier outlook on food overall. Now, while I make sure I’m eating healthy, I don’t feel like I’m on a diet all the time. And I FINALLY managed to lose those extra pounds that crept me up to 20+ pounds over my “happy weight” (the weight I’m happy with, not society).
When you haven’t been able to wear 75% of your wardrobe for years, it’s like getting all new clothes when you can finally fit back into them (well, most of them!).
So, what super secret stuff did I learn? It’s simple really… and by that, I mean it IS simple, it’s going back to basics and learning to think of food differently.
Key Secrets to a Better You
My discovery process about these “healthy eating secrets” actually started back in 2013 when I was on a business trip in Norway. I noticed that all the food there was very simply made but tasted wonderful. And the biggest thing I found was that I didn’t have a bloated or “too full” feeling during the whole time I was there. Even if we had a generous meal which included the most amazing fingerling potatoes I’ve ever had along with a little libation (aka beer), I still had that “feeling good and fit” feeling about my midsection.
Why? I wasn’t eating any processed foods. In Norway, the food was cooked simply without preservatives, and even prepackaged cafeteria food at the trade show I attended was made with all natural ingredients. While it took me a few more years and a health scare to finally register that and use it daily, the seed was planted during my visit to Norway.
Get to the Good Stuff!
So, what does that mean to you as you’re scrolling through this page? What can you do right now to transform your eating habits and get to your own happy weight?
Here’s a snapshot to get you going, then I’ll go into a little more detail.
Food Secret Details
For those of you who like to get into the nitty gritty, here are a few more details on those Food Secrets.
Eat Food for Nutrients
If I could go back to my younger self and give a piece of advice, I’d tell myself to eat a banana once in a while! Actually, to pay attention to my potassium and magnesium intake. I can’t tell you how many foot and leg cramps I used to get, and never realized at the time it was due to low magnesium. I also passed out once in my 20’s due to low potassium. I really never paid attention to the nutrients in food at all, it was all about calories and not wanting to “get fat.”
If you’re eating low-cal processed foods or drinking diet sodas regularly, you’re eating on empty without the vital nutrients that your body needs. And when your body is out of balance and lacking something, it often takes a toll on our health or can also lead to weight problems.
Read those nutrient labels, and also be aware of the recommended daily allowances you should be getting as compared to what you’re taking in. Here is a chart you can reference from the Health.gov (Click “next column” to scroll more age groups).
Bonus: As your body gets the nutrients it needs, it’s less hungry. Meaning as you eat nutrient-rich, foods, you’ll feel fuller and be less likely to empty-calorie snack.
Try to Cut Out Most Processed Food
I changed this from “all” to “most” because, let’s get real… it’s not easy to cut out all processed foods, especially if you have kids that love their Cheez-Its or other favorite snack. But cutting out most of them is very doable. Instead of picking up a frozen lasagna, make one from scratch on the weekend and freeze it. (They’re actually not that hard to make at all!) Or make up a pot of chicken or vegetable beef stew in your crockpot and let it cook overnight.
The point is there are a lot of ways you can choose more REAL food for your daily meals, which will make what I call “The Norway-Factor” kick in! Your body will respond by feeling less bloated and “icky” and having more energy
For Frozen Foods, Buy the All-Natural, Organic Type
Even though I totally am eating a ton healthier every day, that doesn’t mean I don’t still have convenient frozen foods that I like as well. The big Secret here was that I stopped picking just any frozen foods, and went for the all-natural, non-GMO, organic, and gluten-free brands. Not that I eat gluten-free regularly, but you’ll find those types of products tend to also use REAL food without preservatives or artificial ingredients.
My favorite healthy frozen food brands (and where I find them) are:
- Eating Well (Publix)
- Amy’s (Lowe’s Foods, Publix, Walmart)
- Udi’s (Lowe’s Foods)
- Luvo (Lowe’s Foods)
- Evol (Lowe’s Foods)
Pay attention to how different foods make your body feel
I was forced to really “listen” to my digestive system when I started having health issues and was trying to work my way out. What I found was when you take time to listen to your body, you can pick up on things to eat more of that your body likes, and things to stay away from. For some reason my body doesn’t like Avocados… I don’t know why but my stomach complains loudly if I eat one!
This can lead you to nourishing your body and spirit in a much healthier way and hey… get an important two-way conversation going!
Don’t skip meals!
I used to do this all the time, thinking I was doing good by taking in less calories. Wrong! I was causing my body to slow my metabolism since it knew I was going to starve it in the morning by skipping breakfast. When I started eating throughout the day, my metabolism sped back up to normal, and I actually lost weight instead of gaining it. I also wasn’t tempted to overeat at dinner because I hadn’t been skipping other meals.
Schedule Daily 3 Meals, 2 Snacks, and 1 Dessert
Eating regularly throughout the day not only helps keep your blood sugar regulated without large highs and lows, it also helps your metabolism, as mentioned above.
Here’s the daily schedule I follow that allows me my Hobbit 2nd breakfast! Of course, you change the time and foods to fit your likes and needs, this is just an example of one of my daily meal schedules:
- 5:45/6:00 am, Wake up: 7oz to 8oz cup 100% low acid orange juice.
- 6:45 am, Breakfast: 2 eggs scrambled in ½ T. olive oil, 1 wedge of Kerry Gold Dubliner cheese (similar to Laughing Cow, but better!), 1 Dannon 80 Calorie yogurt cup with 1/3 cup Fiber Buds mixed in (for fiber!), 8 oz cup of almond milk
- 9:00 am, 2nd Breakfast: ¾ of a Lara Bar (I love the chocolate chip cookie dough and snickerdoodle ones!)
- 12:00 pm, Lunch: 1 chicken breast cooked in olive oil (or wild-caught frozen salmon), green beans or broccoli, a few beet slices, medium baked golden potato (easy to cook in the microwave), 8 oz. almond milk
- 2:30 pm, Afternoon Snack: A banana or 8oz Dannon 80 calorie yogurt or almonds
- 6:00 pm, Dinner: Eating Well chicken stroganoff frozen meal
- 7:30 pm, Dessert: ¼ cup raisins or yogurt pop
Don’t Obsess Over Your Scale, But Use It to Keep on Track
I went about 15 years without weighing myself. I told myself that I just would know when I needed to lose weight by how my clothes fit. I didn’t want to be made to feel bad by a number on the scale.
But I realized the scale doesn’t have to be my enemy. Once I was in recovery mode for my health and eating better and walking regularly, I used my scale in the morning just to let me know where I was, which would help me adjust my food portions accordingly. It also let me know I was losing weight at a good, healthy slow pace of about 1-2 pounds per week, which helped make it stick.
Switch to Healthier Drinks
This one’s pretty simple. Drink good stuff, like water, milk or almond milk, fruit juices (100%), instead of chemical-filled diet or non-diet sodas. Try changing just a couple per day if you can’t let them go completely, and you’ll find yourself craving the healthier drinks rather than the chemical-filled ones soon.
Walk at Least 5-10 Minutes After Every Meal
I started walking not because I have any love of “exercise” (see Move Happy), but because it aided digestion and I was overcoming a digestive issue. I found that even as little at 5-10 minutes of walking after every single meal made a HUGE difference in how I felt, my energy level, and my stamina and strength. The “secret” is to do it after each and every meal without fail, even if it’s a 5 minute walk around the house, backyard or office hallway.
I naturally worked my way up to 20 minutes after each meal (except after lunch when I’m at work, then it’s about 14-15 due to time constraints). I would just feel so good walking, that I’d go an extra block, then a little later, another extra block. Now I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t walk after I ate. It really does improve how your body digests food and your health, weight, and energy overall.
Do You Have More Healthy Eating/Weight Loss Stuff?
I do! I have a lot more coming on how to Eat Happy and get to your “happy weight” while also giving your body the nutrients it needs.
You can find it in “My Happy Life Jump-Start Guide,” which has 12 tips for living a happier and healthier. life. Get the Guide here!