Good nutrition is vital to feeling your best, putting your best foot forward and for having the energy and focus to be the Dynamic, Intriguing, Vivacious and Audacious woman you were meant to be. It’s important to eat a variety of healthy foods, but changes in our bodies and lifestyles can make that difficult – especially when you’re also undergoing a significant personal transformation.
Consider these facts about nutrition and practical strategies for sticking to a healthy diet.
Nutrition Basics during Transformation
1. Know how many calories you need. Significant weight loss can be accompanied by a slowing of your metabolism, most people require fewer calories as they lose weight. The exact number varies by age, gender and activity level. For example, a sedentary woman over age 50 needs about 1,600 calories a day while an active man may need at least 2,400. Women are slightly more susceptible to changes in their calorie needs as they lose weight because we don’t emphasize the maintenance (and addition) of lean muscle tissue as much as men do.
2. Avoid empty calories. One of the easiest ways to avoid extra pounds is to cut out junk food. Skip the fast food restaurants and munch on a favorite vegetable or other healthy snack instead of potato chips.
3. Focus on nutrient dense foods. Get most of your calories from vegetables, fruits and whole grains. In addition to the nutrients, they provide plenty of fiber which helps improve your digestion. Nutrient dense foods may even help lower your cholesterol and blood sugar levels – and as you continue to lose weight, you may find you simply cannot hold as much food as you used to be able to, so make sure what you’re putting into your body is the absolute best it can be.
4. Select healthy fats. Keep eating fats with an emphasis on monounsaturated and polyunsaturated versions. Limit saturated fats that come from animals and trans fats found in many processed foods.
5. Pick lean proteins. Get your protein from lean sources. Try to eat fish at least twice a week. Make a pot of three bean chili and add your favorite spices so that each day it gets better and leftovers don’t stay around long.
Practical Eating Strategies for Continued Success
1. Talk with your doctor. Your doctor can help you eat right and avoid malnutrition while you are losing weight and then when you switch to a maintenance program. You may need to follow a specific diet initially to help manage conditions like heart disease or diabetes. Ask your doctor if you think a medication is interfering with your diet, and definitely before you stop any medication that you had to take when you were heavier. Your doctor may suggest ways to cope with your changing needs or even take you off of a medication as you get healthier.
2. See your dentist. Your dentist can also help you stay healthy. Proper dental care will help you eat the foods you love. If your mouth is temporarily sore, stick to soft foods like yogurt drinks and soup, but don’t rely on those for too long.
3. Detect food sensitivities. As you lose weight, you may find that your favorite foods are creating new issues. Ask your doctor to test you if you’re experiencing symptoms like diarrhea or gas. For conditions like lactose intolerance, try yogurt or almond milk instead of your usual milk.
4. Outsmart your taste buds. Your taste buds can change as you lose weight because of chemical changes at the cellular level in your body. If you had an intense sweet tooth, you may be able to satisfy it with sugar free gum as your progress continues. You may be less sensitive to salty and bitter flavors, so experiment with spices to help satisfy your appetite for new flavors without adding bulk in the form of more food than you may be used to.
5. Drink more water. Your sense of thirst may declines as you lose weight, but your need for water may increase as your body processes the excess fat. Sip water or decaffeinated tea throughout the day rather than waiting until you feel thirsty.
6. Cut back on salt. As we mature we need less than a teaspoon of salt a day. Go easy with the salt shaker and opt for whole foods rather than processed items, which can also cause you to retain water and hide the results of all of your hard work.
7. Dine with others. Adults on a restricted or low-calorie nutrition plan sometimes lose interest in eating when it’s a solitary experience or they get “tired” of eating the same group of foods – though those foods are the ones supporting their weight-loss success. Join a social club or invite guests over where the focus is on trying new foods and preparing them in a healthy manner. Studies show that we may be willing to eat more new foods when we share meals.
8. Practice food safety. If your immune system weakens due to the stresses of losing weight, you need to take extra precautions in the kitchen. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Check expiration dates. When in doubt, throw it out.
Your future can be brighter than ever if you continue your focus on being healthy and active. Eating a healthy and varied diet plays a big role in maintaining your weight loss and continuing to increase your strength and stamina.