Food Rules for the Real World

I posted this yesterday on the WholesomeRD Blog as a guest blogger since Erin is away on vacation this week. In case you didn’t get a chance to see it yesterday, here it is today:

Growing up I was very active and athletic; so much so that I could eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and in large amounts without adding a single pound. When I went off to college, there was no fear that I would gain the dreaded “Freshmen 15” because I was playing soccer at an NCAA Division I school. And so my life of not worrying about the amounts I ate continued. I could drink calorie-laden beverages,

Giant Caloric Containing Drinks in Vegas

 chow down on burgers,

Back When I Ate Meat

 and bake (and eat) desserts 

Cookies and Fruit Pizza

without gaining weight.

Unfortunately, college and my days as an athlete came to an end. While I have not stopped working out and now enjoy running for exercise, it is just not as intense as my work outs had been for the past 12 years of my life. Furthermore, the “Real World” (aka – not college) is much more sedentary and does not lend itself to several hours of exercise or impromptu games of flag football with friends in the middle of the afternoon (bummer, huh?) Therefore, I have since had to learn how to control my food intake so that I do not gain weight. Here are some guidelines I have incorporated in to my life, since healthy foods still have calories!

1.)    Pack Lunch (and possibly dinner too) – Brown bagging it to the office saves money and calories. It is better to have control over your meals rather than be eating food from the restaurants, fast food places or worse yet, vending machines nearby. Especially, since a study just released indicates that the calorie amount listed on restaurant’s nutritional information is usually incorrect and the actual meals contain more than reported!

2.)    Use Your Watch – This may sound odd but let me explain. I am prone to snacking continuously throughout the day if I have food around even if I am not hungry. Therefore after I eat breakfast I start the timer on my watch. Then I do not allow myself to eat again for at least 4 hours, unless for some reason I am hungry before that (which usually I am not). This allows me to control my urge to “just have a quick snack” or “just a taste” of some treats co-workers have brought in.

3.)    Meat Free Meals – I am vegetarian, but before I stopped eating animal products all together, I first began having at least 2 meat free food days each week. This helps to reduce saturated fat and cholesterol intake, and in some cases even caloric intake as well.

4.)    Brush and Floss Your Teeth – Following dinner I try to brush and floss my teeth as soon as possible. This deters me from going back for more or from late night mindless snacking, since I don’t want to go through the hassle of flossing again!

5.)    Calorie Free Beverages – For the most part the only thing I drink is water. Very rarely will I have anything else – especially something containing calories. Therefore I can spend my calories on food which I enjoy more than calorically dense beverages.  Research has shown that we generally do not compensate for calories that we drink by decreasing food intake. So reduction or elimination of calorie-containing drinks can help prevent unwanted weight gain.

Have you had to change your eating habits since entering different stages of your life? What adjustments have you made? Are there any tips or tricks you use to monitor your food intake so you do not over consume?

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