Recently I was asked to talk at a group called 1 in 21 Get Healthy Muskegon. I so commend Muskegon because this town read some terrifying facts about their obesity rates and decided to do something about it by forming the group called Get Healthy Muskegon! Kudos to them!!!
I explained to the audience the importance of reading labels and learning more about the amount of fat that goes into their favorite foods. We talked about the fat grams the Food Pyramid has for the average person (65) but how we can blow that number in just one meal! I wanted the audience to understand that by cutting back on the fat in their diet, it not only helped their heart health but also their waistline. We talked about picking a number of fat grams that a person could manage each day to get started, like 35-40 fat grams a day and if you choose to eat/use a fat be sure it was a good one (like olive oil).
I want to stress the importance of not cutting back everything all at one time. People in the audience voiced concerns of just cutting calories should be enough – no, unfortunately it is not. Cutting calories does not mean cutting fat grams, actually you may find that lower calorie foods may have more fat grams. Choose one thing first to really get started in your new healthy lifestyle. If calories works for you then read your labels and work on that for at least 2 months (it will then become a habit). After you have that mastered working on your calories and are more conscientious of reading labels then work on the fat grams. Trying to cut too many things at once makes you feel like you are depriving yourself of everything and you will not stick to your choice of a healthy lifestyle.
An example that I give everyone is my peanut butter. I love peanut butter and eat it almost every day but when I looked at my favorite brand (Jiff Creamy), I discovered the huge amount of fat grams that were in just two tablespoons. The other thing we have to realize as we venture into our healthy lifestyle is portions. I thought I was only putting two tablespoons on my bagel or toast and I was two tablespoons on each! Measuring your food really does help! Ok, so back to the peanut butter. I scoured the internet looking for lower fat peanut butter and read reviews/blogs on peanut butter (my husband and family thought I was nuts)! I finally discovered a brand called Better’n Peanut Butter and it is wonderful (available at Plumb’s Market)! There are only 2 grams of fat in two tablespoons so that is about 85% less than my old favorite, less sodium and it has 40% fewer calories. The carbs are a bit higher and I know that is to enhance the flavor but when I look at the total picture I can handle 6 extra grams of sugar for all the rest of the positive. I wont lie, I had to really measure for a bit so I learned how much two tablespoon were but it does not take long and soon you can eye things pretty accurate.
A reality check on labels is important for all of us. I do look for the lowest fat content in my products but I also check the calories as well as the extra sugar. Sometimes my “old favorites” were my downfall and I needed to check out new brands which is good for all of us since there are new ones popping up every day. Believe me it’s not just low fat items that you need to watch out for, it’s also “Whole Grain”. they are healthier for us than white because of the sugar issue but unless the label says 100% whole grain it’s basically not worth it.
As with most new lifestyles, I went off the deep end for the first year. You know how we get, we never stray, stay on track and put blinders on. I have since swung my pendulum back a bit. I eat more whole grains (you see they have more fat so that didn’t fit in my plan), watch the sugar from the low fat foods that I love and have an occasional treat by eating something that is not necessarily a low fat choice 🙂 Because I am willing to venture out every once in a while, I believe is the reason that I have stayed with my new lifestyle choices for almost 2 years, kept off the weight that I lost and I feel great. When you choose healthy most of the time, the occasional “treat”, as I like to call it, will not derail all your efforts.
Everything in moderation my friend and I tell each other. We live in the land of plenty but that does not mean we have to consume it all.