My social media feeds are sometimes inundated with people looking to change their diets because they are forced to lose weight due to some medical reason. Dietitians tell them to cut their calories but do not tell them to eat healthier. So they eat smaller portions of the crap foods they were already eating. They end up being hungry, so they eat more and more, then wonder why it’s not working. I remember when I was pregnant, the doctor thought I was underweight so he sent me to a dietitian. She told me to eat ice cream and cookies to fill calories to gain weight. I didn’t listen to her as I felt my weight was appropriate, but this is the advice given by someone who counts calories and not nutritional value.

The problem stems from not feeding your body nutritionally. Change the way you eat and what you eat not how much you eat. While I endorse an organic diet, I know that not everyone can afford organically grown foods all the time. Consuming organic foods allows for more nutrition to enter your body, therefore consume less food. Our bodies will actually feel full on less.

If you cannot eat organic foods, there are ways to still get optimal nutrition from the foods that you do consume. Keep pre-processed foods to a minimum as well as heavily sugared foods, especially things made with artificial sweeteners. Make vegetables the larger portion of your meals and limit red meats. If you eat starchy foods, go for nutritionally dense starches such as sweet potatoes, blue/purple potatoes, quinoa, wild rice instead of white rice and such.

Preparing your own meals might be time consuming, but well worth it. Make extra so there will be meals for the next day. This will negate the need for a fast food stop or buy prepackaged foods.

“I can’t eat less, I’ll be hungry all the time!” is something I hear frequently. The American diet trains people to eat more than necessary. Its restaurants serve portions large enough to feed two or more people in one sitting. Fast food places ask if you would like to make it a “large” and therefore you get more fries and larger drinks and before you know it, you’ve just eaten enough calories for several days and your body is still starving.

Be mindful of the foods you eat, the meals you consume. Take your time as you become aware of the flavour of the food you are eating, the aromas your food emits, and the texture of it. We are so used to gobbling our food down to hurry off to the next thing on our list. Many times we eat far more than needed because we do not listen to our bodies.

As an experiment, for a week, try sitting down and eating a home prepared meal with no distractions. See the foods you are eating, take note of the colour, how it smells, the texture, and finally the flavour as it crosses your tongue. Chew each bite slowly, savour it. Don’t think about the numerous things that you must attend to, pay attention to what is on your plate. After a week, notice if your portions have changed. Are you eating less? Are you enjoying your foods a little more? How do you feel after you eat certain foods? Especially note this after eating bread and pastas as well as any pre-processed foods you happen to eat during the week.

Don’t forget to drink enough water throughout the day. Eight glasses is a minimum and is aside from any other liquids you may drink during the day. Flushing out your body is a necessity for maintaining optimal health. If you are a soda drinker, try going 30 days without one. This includes diet sodas.

If we, as a society in whole, took a better approach to nourishment and mindful eating we would be healthier. We need to take our health into our own hands and make appropriate choices as we listen to our body’s needs and signals then we can be successful not only losing weight but living a healthier lifestyle.