Get real, embrace eating wholefoods
A far easier approach than restricting foods and controlling portions of macronutrients consumed, in an effort to maintain good health and a healthy weight, is to reduce energy-dense foods such as junk foods that contain high trans fat, saturated fat, refined sugars and carbohydrates, artificial flavours and colouring that provide very little nutritional value in terms of micronutrients. Micronutrients being the vitamins and minerals within foods such as iron, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin C, B Vitamins and so on. Instead, choose nutritionally dense, minimally-processed foods, aka wholefoods, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, oils, legumes, dairy, seafood and meats (if desired).
Get real, forget about portions of fat, protein and carbohydrates
When we adopt a wholefood diet, so long as our minimum requirements of fat, protein and carbohydrates are met, further adjustment of the portions has little bearing on our weight and health. What is crucial is that our body is obtaining all the vitamins and minerals it requires, within a sufficient energy range. A recent study found that when individuals switched from a processed to wholefoods diet the portions of macronutrients had little bearing on the weight loss achieved (Veum et al., 2016). Therefore, keeping it real is more important than measuring portions of macronutrients.
Get real, eat nutrient-dense foods to curb your hunger
Further when we eat wholefoods is it far easier to tune into our bodies signals of hunger and know what to feed it. This has been a long-held belief of mine and is a valid theory in the scientific community. A recent study looked at comparing the hunger signals of people when on a standard American diet that is calorie-dense and nutrient-poor, to a diet of wholefoods that are nutrient-dense (Fuhrman et al., 2010). What they found is that the frequency and intensity of hunger reduced when people switched to nutrient-dense foods. Further, mood fluctuations associated with hunger were less extreme, with participants experiencing less irritability with hunger. With less intense feelings of hunger, people find that they can eat what their body requires, without the same tendency for overeating.
Get real, learn to listen to your body
Although I do not wish to impose the rule of eating wholefoods always, it can be useful to explore how your body responds to eating more wholefoods. Switching to a higher consumption of wholefoods, rather than processed foods, can help you to learn to trust our body, as it is getting all the nutrition it requires and sends your brain clearer messages. I encourage all my clients to drop focusing on total calories or macronutrient portions, but rather look at wholefood alternatives they can substitute in their current diet, and notice how that feels for them, without restricting themselves of foods they love. Through learning to listen to their hunger and fullness signals with time it is possible to achieve a balance that is right for you. Enjoy.