How many times do we hear that we lose weight by eating less? Isn’t it about smaller portions? Isn’t my weight a problem because I eat too much? It may seem simple: Eat less, weigh less. Well, not so fast. The equation doesn’t quite work so well. In fact, how much do we know (first hand?) about diet yo-yoing?
When we eat less, our body signals the absence of input and increases the storage of more fat. In other words, eating less triggers a starvation response, which causes the body to go into “store up” mode and slow down in order to protect energy reserves. For dieters, this is neither the intended nor desired result.
Why do we keep doing the same thing and expecting different results? We revert back to the same equation and think if we “cut down” on what we eat, we will lose weight. The problem is, the premise of our equation is incorrect. Eat less, weigh less is a myth!
We must realign the underlying concept in order to correct our misconception. The problem is not how much you eat; it is about getting sufficient quantities of the right foods. The real answer lies in eating enough of the right foods and less of the wrong foods. It is the wrong foods that trigger the urge to eat more of the wrong foods – food cravings – and store up fat. Eating more of the right foods provides a greater source of nutrients, causing the body to be more satisfied and feel less hungry, thus needing to store less fat.
We tend to think that if we eat “too much” of anything, it is bad. The trouble is that it is much easier to stop eating foods that are packed with nutrition! These are the foods we need to eat more of. Add to that, nutritious food takes longer to eat. Raw vegetables, for example, take more chewing and more bites than a hamburger from a fast-food restaurant. The sensation in the mouth is crunch versus mush.
Rather than food quantity, think about eating on a time compendium. How much time does it take to consume a stalk of celery with almond butter versus that Big Mac? When you are in a hurry, which one are you more likely to grab? If you are in between meetings, or on a quick lunch break, which do you think will allow you to get your food and get back to work in the shortest amount of time?
Our problem is not with needing to eat less; it is about what we choose to eat and the time we allot for the eating to happen! We have a perception that scarfing down a Big Mac can be done instantly, but eating a stalk of celery takes too long and is a hassle to prepare. The celery option is loaded in nutrients and fiber. The Big Mac does contain calcium and iron, but more than half the calories are from fat.
Which one has more emotional attachment? What do you want to eat after each? A stalk of celery with almond butter has far greater satiety value to the body than does a Big Mac, but which one are you inclined to follow with a milkshake or coke and French fries?
The good news is that there is plenty of room to eat more good food. When empty calories are eliminated, more good food creates greater fuel efficiency. It is only a matter of eating less when it comes to the junk.