When we think about losing weight, we think that we need some huge intervention to put us on the right track. Unless you are a binge-eater of massive proportions, odds are that the reason that you are overweight and can’t seem to lose, is small everyday indulgences rather than an overall diet disaster. When I worked for a large weight loss business, I saw people come in and buy the most expensive memberships, processed foods, kitchen tools and books only to come in the next week and be furious that they had not lost weight. They thought that because they had made a huge sweeping gesture and spent lots of money, they would automatically lose weight. The last thing that they wanted was to forego a single doughnut in the morning or measure the peanut butter for their afternoon snack. Success or failure is in the details.
I hate to call out peanut butter, but this is possibly the most deceptive food on earth. It has the reputation for being high in protein, but it’s not! A two Tablespoon serving of this heavenly concoction has 190 calories but only 8 grams of protein. By comparison, 190 calories of lean steak will give you a whopping 30 grams of muscle building protein! To make matters worse, most of us will definitely eat more than two Tablespoons of peanut butter. It’s easy to eat a half cup of peanut butter and that will cost you 760 calories. It’s not a meal and it’s considered healthy, so that’s a little thing, right? Wrong. After eating that half cup of peanut butter, you can still eat a full meal in an hour or so. “Little things” add up.
I well remember the sudden popularity of granola when I was growing up. Since it was labeled as “a healthy food”, we ate it with abandon! I mean, how much damage can a handful of oats and nuts do, right? The problem was, we would dig into that bag several times a day, and it was not unusual to eat 1,000 extra calories a day with that one “little thing”. A handful of granola is not a meal and is barely enough to stave off hunger for an hour or so. Since it seemed so innocuous, I was SHOCKED when the scale started climbing with regularity. I mean, it was such a “little thing”. How on earth could that one healthy snack cause me to gain pound after pound? Granola is just glorified cereal, and I won’t even have cereal in the house because I can’t quit eating it once I start. Granola is the same. It frequently has added sugars, sometimes in the form of “healthy” honey. Dried fruit is high calorie and high in sugar, and although nuts are an incredibly healthy food, five handfuls a day will add over 800 calories easily. Add in the rest of the mix in granola and you have a recipe for rapid weight gain.
It’s Just a Drink!
I’m not sure exactly when a coffee-flavored milkshake became “coffee” but those abominable drinks are adding pounds to so-called coffee drinkers all over the world. A 24 oz. Starbuck’s Caramel Frappuccino has 470 calories and 72 grams of sugar and most people that have the coffee drink habit think nothing of slurping that down between meals. I mean, it’s coffee, right? Coffee has antioxidants. True. It’s a good thing that it does, because all of the fat cells created by these drinks is going to create a significant amount of inflammation in your body, so you’re going to need some antioxidants.
Smoothies, fruit juice and sugar-sweetened teas and carbonated drinks add massive amounts of calories and pounds to your frame regardless of any healthy ingredients they may contain. You can’t add pomegranate juice to a glass of liquid sugar and make it healthy and low calorie. NEVER drink your calories! If you need to supplement your protein intake with a protein shake, choose wisely. Keep it low calorie and free of added sugars. Drinking calories bypasses the cue that we’re full. Before you know it, you can drink many more calories than you can eat and never feel satisfied. When you add enough solid food to feel satisfied, your caloric intake will skyrocket and so will the scale. That’s why liquid weight loss plans will only work until you have the need to fill up. Then you will binge for days, and any lost weight returns in a hurry. I know, I’ve been there.
There’s a multitude of protein cookies, meal and snack bars, drinks and even CHIPS on the market. While an occasional protein cookie in a time crunch to stave off hunger and poor food choices is okay, eating these processed foods every day is not a wise choice. One of my favorite protein cookies has 240 calories but only 15 grams of protein. That’s not a lot better than peanut butter for the calories consumed and it’s a PROCESSED food. Processed foods don’t stave off hunger as long as whole foods because processing is the equivalent of being partially digested. They are already broken down into an easier to digest form, so they pass through faster. Whole foods have to broken down and then the nutrients are absorbed, giving your body something to work with much longer.
Another problem with these types of foods is that you remain habituated to snack foods. Again, occasionally eating these “healthy” snacks is not going cause a problem but if you stay habituated to chips and cookies, sooner or later you will most likely fall back into Kettle Chips and Oreos , and lots of them. When we create a new lifestyle, we need to change these destructive habits. If you have a habit of eating chips every night, that habit needs to be broken, not kept in place with processed foods with a bit of protein added. Instead of processed foods choose whole, protein snacks like cheese sticks, beef jerky, Greek yogurt and boiled eggs. All of these snacks are nutritious and portable, so you don’t ever have to get caught without a healthy snack.
Sometimes people will even skip counting the calories of foods that are labeled as “diet” or “healthy”. I well remember when my grandparents went on vacation with another couple. Both women were over-weight and my grandmother’s friend had carried some liquid meal replacement shakes on the trip with her. Every time they ate a meal, this woman would drink a shake with the meal. When they got back home after three weeks in Mexico, she had gained 15 pounds! Beware of “diet” foods that are designed to get your money and keep you addicted to bad habits so that the “diet” industry has plenty of business! A meal-replacement shake in itself is a little thing, but the habit of scarfing down extra calories just because of the “diet” label is not. eat those foods sparingly if at all.
Alcohol is Not Your Friend
Regardless of all the so-called “science” where they try to justify the “health benefits” of alcohol, I disagree. I wrote an article about the absurdity of the claim that wine is a good source of resveratrol, The Benefits of Resveratrol – David’s Way to Health and Fitness (davidsway.blog) You would have to drink so much wine that you would be non-functional to get enough resveratrol to do you much good. Alcohol is a rich source of empty calories from sugars and nothing else. Along with the calories, your inhibitions will be lowered by alcohol and you will ALWAYS eat too much. A cold one seems like a little thing, but there are very few people who can stop with one and after a 6-pack, pizza, wings and all sorts of high-calorie foods are bound to follow. Just say “NO!” You will enjoy a healthy body, and it’s benefits… much more than a drunken stupor. A healthy body is loads more fun.
These things that we perceive as “little things” are simply a way to avoid accountability. When you make up your mind that you really want to be your best self, you will automatically become accountable. Accountability is not a “little thing” either,
MAKE IT HAPPEN.