March is National Nutrition Month and as a Registered Dietitian one question I get asked all the time is…What do you eat? Just try walking through the café line at work as an RD without generating lots of stares and comments…it’s inevitable! But, I’m happy to share my top ten most surprising secrets to staying healthy with you.
I’ve never dieted. Being a lifelong healthy weight-er is no accident, but that doesn’t mean that dieting is the answer to staying slim. It’s absolutely not 100% genetics either, although having healthy weight parents helps. But “diet” really is a 4-letter word that causes more trouble than good. It’s all about mindset. I am still human, so after freshman year of college when late night pizza, breadsticks, frozen yogurt and alcohol led to an 8-pound weight gain and my favorite summer clothes not fitting, I didn’t diet. Instead, I simply lived at home that summer, ate my mom’s healthy homemade cooking, went on daily walks and within a few weeks the spare tire was gone.
I’ve got food on the brain. I’ll share a bucket list item with you…competing on Chopped! Hey Food Network, hope you’re reading this! I watch lots of cooking shows, think and talk about food all the time. It’s not because it’s my career, it’s actually the other way around; I’ve turned one of my passions into my work. In fact, my husband was shocked at how often my family talks about food, recipes, shopping, cooking, what we’ll eat for dinner as our lunch topic of conversation, yet no one is overweight. That “outta sight outta mind” adage doesn’t always work, it can backfire and you may end up obsessing over food. Having food on the brain helps you plan and preparation is key for healthy eating success.
Fitness is for Tiger Moms! Counting up calories burned during exercise, as a sort of freedom to eat more, ends up shifting energy balance in an unhelpful way. In other words, don’t look to exercise alone as a weight loss tool, it usually backfires. Exercise is important for health and wellness and as a petite woman I like to look and feel strong. I want to know I can care for my kids in any situation and that being small won’t stop me. I focus on fitness for the many health benefits like: immunity, mood, energy, heart health, strong bones and a sharp mind, rather than a slim waistline, although that’s a nice side effect. While exercise compared to diet isn’t as helpful for weight loss, it is very beneficial for maintaining a healthy weight. Both are always needed – whether losing, maintaining or gaining weight, just in varying emphasis.