It's week two of my Losing It! journey. Last week I showed you my first workout, and I am proud to say I have stuck with my goal to weight train three times a week and do 40-45 minutes of cardio 5 days a week. This week it's all about food because experts say it's much easier to combine a healthy diet and exercise to maintain fitness, instead of just relying on one or the other. With so many diets out there and confusing food labels, I brought a registered dietitian with me to the grocery store to show us what we should be eating.
The average American diet is not healthy. As a nation, health experts say we eat too much fast food, fat, salt, and sugar. Some people say they eat fast food because it's cheaper, but registered dietitian Christie Nicholson says you can eat for cheaper at the grocery store.
"So if we go to McDonalds and eat 4 happy meals you're looking at $16 to $20. Where you can go buy chicken breasts, broccoli, salads. I mean you could buy quite a few things for $20 and feed probably more than four," explained Nicholson.
It is called fast food for a reason. It does save time.
"It is hard to have meals done, homework done, and be in bed at a reasonable hour. So you can kind of pre-plan your meals and prep for the week to come," said Nicholson.
Nicholson says it's worth preparing fresh meals for the week, especially if you're trying to lose weight. She says write down everything you eat.
"I know no one likes the food journal, but the food journal is key. I've been working with people and it even comes down to how much gum you're chewing and the itty bitty candies that are sitting on your desk. That's not crucial in the beginning, but when you're coming down to the last 10 lbs and you've got bon bons sitting on your desk that makes a difference."
The USDA recommends men have 2,000 to 2,500 calories a day and women eat 1,800 to 2,300 calories. I'm eating about 1500 a day to lose weight. Nicholson said never eat less than 1200. It's the minimum needed, and starving yourself only messes up your metabolism. Once you know how many calories you need, the big no-nos are fat, cholesterol, sugar, and sodium.
"The dietary guideline is 1500 milligrams of sodium per day- so if you eat out at all- you're done," said Nicholson.
Sodium or salt make you retain water and put you at risk for heart disease and hypertension, but Nicholson says you can flush your system with water.
"It will fill you up if you drink a glass of water before you eat. Your stomach is only so big, so you are going to intentionally eat less. It's also like running a car. Without the gas, you don't really have what you need, so maintaining your hydration status is key. "
One of the simplest rules of good eating is eat a variety of foods.
Christie says think color, " If you keep the color content there then you will most of your vitamins and minerals."
Nicholson says the goal is to have five fruits and vegetables a day, and frozen or canned vegetables are fine. She says even some frozen dinners are better than fast food, but again you'll need more water due to high sodium content.
Christie says get 25-30 grams of fiber a day, but it can be tough. We could only find one type of bread with 5 grams of fiber per slice.
"It does help with digestion. It does help with cholesterol levels. It will keep you fuller longer. It will help with blood sugar regulation so there are a lot of benefits to the fiber," said Nicholson.
Another good tip when reading labels is: keep it simple.
If there's a long label of ingredients like maltodextrin and disodium phosphate, Christie says you want to think twice about eating it.
Christie found a bag of potato chips with simple ingredients. "There's 3 ingredients.When you read a label and you know the ingredients you're automatically at a more natural product. "
Christie says work around your lifestyle, and anything in moderation is OK.
"If you go to a family reunion or you go out to eat or if you have Christmas or Thanksgiving-look at your portions. It's not to say you can't have that food product- you just need to look at your portion control. So if you look at it from that stand point you can incorporate in just about anything you want."
She says she can give a cookie-cutter diet, but it doesn't work because as soon as someone is done they go back to old habits. She says eat things you like so you don't feel trapped in a diet plan you hate.
Next week we'll get inside your head with a counselor and talk about getting motivated to be healthy and all the barriers that keep us from going to the gym or eating better.
Please post your questions for me, my trainer, or Christie here or on my Facebook page at April Davis WITN.