While I tend to gravitate towards the mental side of this health journey, we need to be realists and face the fact that some of this game is merely about being practical and prepared as it is about searching out the truth in why we overate in the beginning and continued to treat our bodies in a not so loving way. What does this mean? You need to plan. You need to prepare. And you need to believe there is value in these steps (so, I guess a bit of mental is always part of it!).
I think it’s first paramount to define trigger foods, because we all have them. A trigger food is “ a specific food that sets off a course of overeating where control is lost. The most common trigger foods are calorie-dense, highly palatable foods that are often combinations of sugar and fat (e.g. ice cream, cookies) or fat and salt (e.g. nuts, potato chips, French fries). Research suggests that exposure to certain trigger food cues activates particular areas of the brain that are involved with the body’s reward system”.
So, sit back and think – you need to identify what your triggers are because this is how we became overweight or obese to begin with. I didn’t overeat asparagus to get to over 270 pounds. I overate chocolate, white pasta by the package full, white buns with melted cheese, piles of white rice with sour cream and soy sauce – it was these foods for me that once I started eating them, I couldn’t stop until I felt ill.
As an admitted addict to pasta and anything white-refined, I know that there are certain things I can do now to avoid my trigger foods. A. reminding myself that not eating them makes me feel awesome; B. not having them in the house forces me not to cook them and therefore not consume them; and C. I believe this to be true.
When we talk about nutrition, it can be overwhelming. In one of my close friend’s own words, ” #uck, I’ve just allowed myself to get totally overwhelmed. I don’t want to log $hit, I don’t want to count $hit, I don’t want to constantly think about what to eat, how much to eat or how often..”
Does this sound like you? Are you completely overwhelmed that you don’t know where to start? I can help a bit, but one thing I have learned from experience is that educating yourself on your own body and its needs is always the best thing. This process may take a bit, but looking at where you are now is the best first step.
I would be happy to share some ‘best’ advice on cart and food preparation. As I always say, while I have done my studies in Weight Loss and Nutrition, what I have learned may not be best for you, but it can be a starting point. The following bits of information can be taken as literal as the key strokes were to type this, or a loose guide to get you started. As some studies have shown, nutrition can be up to 80% of the weight loss equation.
Suggestions for a Healthier, Happier Shipping Cart (please note, this information has been adapted by the CanFitPro Philosophy of Weight Loss and Nutrition)
Let’s just get this out in the open – how to fuel your body for weight loss, maintenance and getting strong can be as different as the high and low lights in my hair right now. But what’s important is starting from the basics. The following two charts are a great foundation to start looking at how you feed your body, your organs, your muscles and your brain.
The Circle of Integrated Nutrition
What I love about this visual is that it’s simple – the closer to the center of the circle, the ‘better choice’ the food or better relationship with the choice. We look at how the food is prepped, consumed, processed and produced. For me, how close is white pasta to the lovely glow of green in the center of our circle? Not much – it’s highly processed, cooked, I always ate it completely devoid of being present and it’s non-organic.
Do me a favour (yes, I’m Canadian) – walk over to your fridge, right now if you can. Pick up a vegetable (if you don’t have any, that’s a whole other blog post) and then pick up a bottle of mayonnaise. In your opinion, which is closest to the center of our circle. The celery that was most likely picked, washed and shipped? Or the bottle of food-like product that was chemically borne out of a number of unpronounceable ingredients, globbed together, treated so it wouldn’t spoil, packaged, labelled, boxed, shipped and then stored in storage for weeks before hitting the grocery shelves? And chances are, you aren’t consuming mayonnaise for it’s great health and wellness benefits. Get my point?
Then we move on to the Pyramid of Integrated Nutrition – there have been varying degrees of the the Food Pyramid over the last few decades and it can be argued that it has been heavily focused on grain consumption. Now, I’m not about to start off on that thread, as I have my own personal opinion on the grain drain theory. If you want to talk further, feel free to contact me via my blog, However, this newly revised pyramid has recently been created and breaks down the conventional food groups as “must haves” (green), “enjoy” and “reduce/eliminate”. Again, fairly simple and a good place to start.
Every journey worth starting, starts with a plan. You have some great resources in the above to get a solid grocery list together, set you monetary budget and let’s GO SHOPPING!
The Grocery Store
Along with everything else we have touched upon here, the actual grocery store can be equally overwhelming. I follow the perimeter rule as much as possible. Looking at our circle and pyramid from above, we can easily now enter into our grocery store only visiting the outer perimeter of the store. Meats, dairy, veg and fruit, and really, that’s what we need to get through our days. The center aisles and ‘impulse’ buys at the check out should be avoided as much as possible. Now, we all need a little curry for our coconut chicken curry or a little chili powder for some spice in our lives, but OVERALL, stick to the outside circle!
If there is any consistency in most of our podcasts here at Tips of the Scale it is to prep our meals. This is so very important. Without a full shop done and my meals planned out on the weekend, my life takes over. I have two children under the age of 8, I train clients which keeps me going throughout the day at different locations, and family obligations are a full time job. Even if you don’t have these external factors, work, hobbies, the lack of desire to cook, all can easily ward you off from your goals. Prep your meals. Buy LOTS of storage containers (glass preferred), pre cook and plan your meals for at least the first few days of the week and don’t let those triggers get in the way. Do you know I ate white pasta EVERY DAY of my one year maternity leave with my daughter and the first six months of my son? Why? Easy, cheap and no thought required. D.E.A.D.L.Y.
One Last Thing
This isn’t a diet. This isn’t a fad. This is eating to live. This is fueling your body to get through your day so you have a clear mind, you rest well at night and you no longer are dependent on food to make you happy, excited or joyous.
This is simple but not easy. I know it’s possible. In fact, I’m proof it is.