Achieving your natural body weight involves a number of factors including what you eat, when you eat, and exercise.
If you have ever spent time training at a gym, you will likely be aware that 85% to 90% of weight loss comes from controlling what you eat while training is only responsible for 10% to 15%. I can attest to that as I love working out but it rarely results in weight loss unless I’m watching what I eat.
Learning what to eat is important and necessary, but I believe focusing on what not to eat is also important. Your Mom may have told you repeatedly while growing up that sugar is bad for your teeth, but she probably never told you that candy or soda will make you fat which could lead to obesity, diabetes, and even cancer. I’m not an advocate of scaring the crap out of our kids, but we need to stop treating sugar like it is ok, when it is NOT ok.
Sugar is the enemy
I know it. You know it. And yet we keep eating sugar.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, three quarters of American men are overweight or obese as are 60% of the adult women. The rate of overweight/obesity in children has escalated from 19% in 1980 to 30% today. Weight gain and the eventual problems it causes has reached epidemic proportions in the USA and elsewhere and sugar consumption is the primary reason.
Sugar is found in foods and beverages in the form of sucrose (white sugar), maltose (molasses), lactose (milk), glucose ( ), galactose (dairy), fructose (fruit), and corn syrup (used in a large number of corn based products). If you are going to attempt to eliminate sugar from your diet, you need to start reading labels, or at the very least, start cutting back and eventually eliminating the obvious culprits.
Why do we eat so much sugar?
* sugars make everything taste great which makes them a natural “first choice”
* we are not aware of the high sugar content in many foods and beverages (ketchup and nutella are weak spots for me)
* a constant barrage of advertising keeps sugar on your mind
* sugars provide an almost instant “pick me up” for fatigue
* sugars temporarily reduce stress for many people
* sugars quickly and conveniently fulfill our hunger cravings
Misconceptions about hunger cravings
Most of us (myself included) don’t need to eat between meals and in the evening as our bodies have more than enough fuel to get us through the day. So, why do we continue to snack when we clearly don’t need to? The answer lies in the fact that your brain doesn’t recognize the subtle difference between the thirst and hunger signals that it receive. We drink fluids to wash food down when eating or as a tasty (sugary) soda or coffee as a pick-me-up, but in general most of us are completely unaware that our bodies are chronically dehydrated and calling out for liquids which we mistake as hunger pains or food cravings.
A Simple strategy for replacing sugar-based drinks and snacks
1) Start the day with a big glass (12oz to 16oz) of water when you first wake up. I drink my first glass after I brush my teeth as it seems to go down easy in the morning because I’m naturally thirsty after a night of sleep. I find that drinking water helps wake me up.
2) Sip water every 15 minutes or so during the day between meals and after dinner in the evening. It’s the between-meal snacking on sugars and carbs (sugar is a carb) that really wrecks havoc on your diet and your health. When I don’t sip water on a steady basis during the day, I will drink a big glass of water mid-morning, and mid-afternoon, and in the evening each day. You will be surprised and delighted to discover between-meal cravings disappear if you drink water. For those that don’t like drinking water, different products offer calorie-free alternatives. The only liquid your body needs is water, so my advice would be to foresake any liquids other than water if possible, or to minimize the amount of artificial sweeteners. I have a favorite, but that is for another article where I will discuss alternatives.
3) Drink a big glass of water a few minutes during each meal. It is a myth that drinking water during a meal interferes with your digestive process. Statistics show that including a glass of water typically results in eating 75 less calories per meal. You can find lots of studies online supporting the benefits of drinking water with your meals.
I’m not advocating cutting back on proportions (but you will cut back if you include a big glass of water or two with your meal). I’m not advocating the elimination of sugars and carbs completely from your diet as you need to live a little and your body can burn off small amounts of sugars and carbs consumed with meals. I’m not advocating fad diets or diets in any form as they just don’t work in the long term. My strategy is to replace snacks between meals and in the evening water. Your body will appreciate the additional hydration and the elimination of unnecessary calories from snacks will begin to show before you know it.