Original Link : https://medium.com/@pbooth1990/whats-in-a-meal-98d2f253e748

Before I started my health and fitness journey, I didn’t pay attention to what was in my food. I ate whatever I wanted just because it was available and satisfying. When I made the decision to live a healthier life, I began to learn how I was failing to take care of my body; I gained new habits and ditched the ones that no longer benefitted me. I lost the weight quicker than I imagined only because I was dedicated to the lifestyle I had adopted. After losing the weight and learning how to properly weightlift, I began to notice how most people carry themselves the way that I did before I “woke up”. My coworkers were interested in how I lost the weight while others worried that I was sick. My experience with healthy weight loss gave me the desire to help those who didn’t quite get healthy eating; To be honest, it’s easier to write a blog about it instead of walking up to people and saying, “Let me show you how easy it is to have a body like *Insert fit celebrity here*”. The following tips helped me turn my health around; I hope they help you too.

Track Everything
I’ve noticed that blind eating is the main reason why most people to gain weight. When you don’t care to know what’s in your food or how much one serving of food is, it’s very easy to overeat. Downloading a calorie counting app really helped me become aware of what I was consuming; the app, which visually represents daily food allowance and information, held me accountable to my diet. The app shows you how your food fits into your daily food allowance which is made up of calories and macro-nutrients (Protein, Carbohydrates, Fats). If you don’t already think about your food critically, having a place to report your meals helps you understand what goes into a meal in a different way. After you get the hang of using the app, you can move away from strictly tracking your food to eating intuitively.

Calculate Your Macro(-nutrient)s
Macro-nutrients are made up of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. You can’t track the macros you should be consuming without the knowledge of a diet ratio that is suitable for your lifestyle. A basic guideline for macro consumption can be found at the bottom of most nutritional facts. Macro calculators can help you find out what macros you should be consuming based on your activity level, fitness goal, and other determining factors. This information will help you eat with knowledge. These calculators will also show that you should let go of your fear of carbs. 😉

Pay Attention to Labels and Ingredients
Once you know how many macros you can eat in a day, you can be picky with your food choices. Take advantage of the ingredients and the nutritional facts when making educated decisions about food. Together, they will help you decide whether or not to buy and/or eat the food that’s being considered for consumption. You can also strategically compare similar products which is a good practice to have when buying food; comparing food will help you buy and consume only the very best for your body. Sometimes I forget to check every detail of an item before buying it and regret it later. Avoid this mistake by being an educated consumer.

Eat Out Less
The problem with eating out more than once a week isn’t how expensive it is, but how mysterious it is. At most food establishments, calories are not always easily displayed; also, calories only tell half the story. When you eat a meal that is not prepared by yourself, it’s very difficult to know the macro-nutrient breakdown is for the meal in question. The cook could have also prepared the food with ingredients that you can not see like oils and sauces that can bump up the fat or sodium content. I personally find it to be easier to make my own food instead of interrogating the chef.

Everything in Moderation
One thing I hear constantly when people give others advice on how to eat is to avoid bread and other foods that are widely shunned by an uneducated population. Most people are terrified of carbs because they don’t understand how most plant foods are made up of carbs. You NEED carbs, but you should avoid excess. Pancakes with lots of syrup, for example, is added sugar (which is a carb in addition to fiber) on top of more carbs. It’s important to avoid things based on fact and not a rumor. If you find a bread that has a nice list of natural ingredients, lower carbs than usual and protein, feel free to stick it into your diet. However, I never had to stop eating bread because I strategically chose the bread I eat based on macronutrients, and I moderate how much I eat within a day. Eat with moderation and knowledge.

Bonus tip: Challenge Your Body
Fitness is only beneficial if it is paired with a healthy diet. Most health professionals and fitness influencers say: fat loss is 80% diet and 20% fitness, I agree. I lost a lot of weight in a short period of time ONLY because I stuck to my diet. If you hate fitness, you don’t have to do it; however, working out will help tone your body. If you are willing to break a sweat, begin by challenging your body at your level of fitness until you are ready for more. When you pursue activities that help you gain muscle, it will assist with fat loss. Soon, you will find that it is fun to push your body to its limit. I know this from experience; if you were to tell me 3 years ago that I would one day enjoy doing 100 weighted squats, I would have laughed in your face. The key to sticking to physical activity is to fall in love with it. If exercise were a relationship, you have to: get to know it, have fun, find out what you like about it, find out how it treats you and the rest is history. Lastly, make sure that you learn proper form. If you stick with it, you will be able to transform your body at a faster rate than you ever imagined.

There is a feeling of freedom that comes with being educated about food and fitness; instead of feeling restricted with a diet, there is peace in knowing that the foods you choose to eat will fit into your daily allowance, taste great, and benefit your body too. Food knowledge will give you the confidence to discern what to eat for health without following a step by step guide. Knowing why you shouldn’t eat something will inspire you to stay away from foods that taste good but are without benefit. Having a fitness regime will inspire you to stay committed to your lifestyle.

Patrice Booth is a graphic designer and author from Northern Virginia. She is passionate about healthy living and spirituality. Her sole mission is to help others with the life lessons she has learned. If you are interested in working with her 1 on 1, feel free to email her at Patrice.booth@outlook.com. Her book, The Spiritual Journey of Self-Love, is currently available for pre-order.