The past two weeks we have been working hard on skills designed to help HOW we eat - Keeping a food journal, and slowing down our meals.
This week we are going to focus on our 3rd "Fat Loss Fundamental", and it has to do with WHAT we eat.
Vegetables may be the closest thing we have to the "fountain of youth". If you are looking for the "magic pill" that will help you lose weight, enhance cell health, and have more energy, stop looking and start cooking...
Veggies that is!
Boring you say? Looking for something "sexier", you say?
Establish this habit now and forever, and you'll be looking at "sexier"...in the mirror!
New Habit: Eat Your Vegetables
Wahoo, today is the first day of your new habit. Your goal each day for the next week is to
EAT 5 FISTS OF VEGETABLES EACH DAY
"Why use fists?" your inquisitive mind might be thinking. Well, not everyone has scales or measuring cups with them all the time but most of us have hands with us at all times. Make that hand into a fist and you have yourself the size of one serving of vegetables. Now, get 5 of them in throughout the day.
Remember, you can always modify a habit to fit your unique situation. If the thought of five fists of veggies a day makes your eyeballs pop out of your head, start with three fists instead and work your way up to five. The goal is not to be perfect but to do just a little bit better.
When starting a new habit, we need to start with the basics. Today we will lay the groundwork for your vegetable habit.
Ahh, vegetables, the closest thing we have to a fountain of youth. You probably already know of vegetables but just in case you don't, we will cover a number of them today with you. We are also going to break them into two categories, non-starchy and starchy vegetables, since not all vegetables are created equal.
Characteristics of non-starchy vegetables are:
- Low in calories
- Low in carbohydrates
- Low in sugar
- High in water
- High in fiber
- High in nutrients
Just for the record these are all great things. Actually, you can think of non-starchy vegetables as being (almost) “free” in terms of the calories they will add to your diet. Especially, when you consider how much fiber, vitamins, and minerals they provide for your body. You can eat copious amounts of them everyday without gaining weight. Yes, they are that magical.
In fact, if you’re ever hungry - even after having already eaten an appropriate amount of food, choosing to eat more vegetables to fill up is always going to be your best bet. Low in calories, high in fiber, high in water is a recipe for successful weight loss.
In the end we eat food, not nutrients so let's take a look at the different types of non-starchy vegetables.
Examples of Non-Starchy Vegetables:
- All “leafy greens” (Spinach, Kale, Romaine, etc.Asparagus
- Brussel Sprouts
- Cabbage (all kinds)
- Onions (Yellow, Red)
- Peppers (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green)
- Yellow Squash
This is by no means is an exhaustive list, but it's a good start to get the wheels turning at the grocery store. Eat these freely, we typically don't put a cap on how many non-starchy vegetables you can eat because the calorie content is so low.
Characteristics of starchy vegetables, as compared to non-starchy vegetables:
- Higher in calories
- Higher in carbs and starches
- Higher in sugar
- High in nutrients
- Lower in water content
With starchy vegetables, we DO want to be aware of intake because the calories can start to add up.
Examples of Starchy Vegetables:
- Squash (Butternut, Acorn, Spaghetti)
- Potatoes and sweet potatoes
- Corn (not actually a vegetable but a grain, but most people count is as a vegetable so that's why it's listed here)
How Much Should I Eat?
You want to aim for 5 "fists" of vegetables per day. Ideally, the majority of those "fists" would come from non-starchy vegetables. Strive for 3-5 fists of non-starchy vegetables and 0-2 fists of starchy vegetables.
The great thing about using your own fist as a guideline for portion control is that you always have it with you anywhere you go!
This means you should still keep your veggies in mind at restaurants, when eating on the go, or anywhere else.
It is almost impossible to over consume most non-starchy vegetables, so fill up on these foods without worry. If anything, put your effort towards making sure you eat enough of them, as opposed to too much.