Eat like a (healthy) kid and other perspectives

In my ongoing effort to slim down and be as healthy as possible, I’ve been working with a personal trainer the past month. As luck would have it, the trainer needed a website and I needed his services so it was a perfect fit. In addition to regular exercise, he has put me on a nutrition plan which has me eating several small meals a day. Although this is not a revolutionary concept, many weight loss programs recommend this, one of the skills I have is making connections and seeing things in a different way.

Small, frequent meals
It occurred me that this is very much how a kid eats: small frequent meals that provide energy but don’t fill you up. Of course if you let kids eat whatever they want, some would eat six small meals of…candy, but obviously that is not what I’m talking about.

Think of your stomach like the fuel tank of your car. If you wait until it’s sputtering on fumes before you put gas in, you cause stress on your engine. Well with your body, if you let yourself get down to fumes, your metabolism goes into panic and sends you signals to fill it up, which causes you to overeat and then feel sluggish. This is true even if you don’t feel hungry — if  you skip meals or go to long between meals, your body feels stress. And since you panicked your body, any calories you don’t need, your body will store (as fat) because it now feels like it needs to keep extra just in case. Now here is where the metaphor ends because with a car, it doesn’t matter if you fill it up but with your body, if your goal is weight loss, you want to get it used to a steady flow of fuel without filling up so your body is always satisfied but if it needs more, it draws upon your ‘storage’.

Healthy, high-energy kids do this naturally. Even kids with a large appetite fuel up enough to give them some energy and then they immediately burn it off. Although with our busy schedules, it is not practical to eat and then play off the calories, you can trick your body into the same effect by keeping your overall caloric intake down and breaking your meals into 5 or 6 small ones spaced through the day.

Plan ahead
This is more of a parent’s role than a kid’s but there is a reason why schools want you to send snacks with your child. This is to ensure that the child has a steady source of fuel to keep them going through out the day. Planning ahead as an adult can be even more challenging as we often put ourselves last as we strive to fit more and more each day. But if we suffer physically as a result, either through loss of energy, poor health or weight issues, we are really shooting ourselves in the figurative foot. Putting ourselves last ultimately will catch up with us and the consequences at the very least will result in a loss of stamina, strength and at the worse our well being.

The good news is that there are tons of tools out there that can help you plan ahead. My personal favorite is SparkPeople — it is a free site with tons of tools to help you plan your nutrition and exercise plus member forums and tons of resources. There is a mobile app too, and did I mention its 100% free??? SparkPeople and similar tools will calculate based on your weight and goals, the range of recommended calories, carbs, fat, protien and exercises per day. If you want to lose weight then go by the low end of the nutrition ranges and the high end of the exercise ranges. Then plan what you eat and record it using their trackers. I can’t emphasize enough how invaluable it is to record what you eat especially. It is key if you want to lose weight or adjust what you eat.

I know it may seem time consuming at first but if you do it for a while you’ll get the hang of it. Think of it in the same way you manage your finances. At first, putting together a budget is hard and sticking to it even harder, but if you are motivated to reach a financial goal, you’ll see the benefit of keeping track of all your expenses. Soon the benefit of staying on track will outweigh the minutes you spend monitoring.

Mix it up
If a child is introduced to a wide range of healthy foods from a young age, chances are they will be healthy eaters. But, even the healthiest kids will vary their diet widely from day to day. My daughter Elsa who is only five, for example, eats many fruits and vegetables easily (if you look at the photo, she choose the fruit first over the sweeter options) but, her tastes flux. Some days she could make a meal out of avocados and other days she isn’t even interested. Some of it is natural to the age as her taste buds develop but I also feel her body is telling her what she needs. I have discovered for myself that the more connected you are to your body, the more you will know just what you need to feed it.

When it comes to weight loss, you can assist your body by consciously varying what you eat. My trainer has me doing what is called “carb cycling”. There are a range of definitions for this but his version is that one day you eat normal — high in protein, moderate in carbohydrates, low in fat. The next day you don’t eat any direct carbohydrates such as grains, pasta, bread, potatoes or other high carb vegetables, while keeping the other elements the same. Your calories are naturally lower and you will still get some carbs from fruits, vegetables and diary, but it sparks your metabolism to use more of it’s storage to have the energy to get through the day.

Mixing it up also applies to exercise — if you do the same routine week after week  you may be fine for maintenance but your body will not be inclined to lose weight. If you vary your exercise, you body stays in a state of surprise and that helps lose the weight.

I still have a long way to go and there are many ways to get there but I thought I would share mine…

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Eliza Alys Young, aka CreativEliza, is a free spirit, world traveler, creative expert, and part of multicultural family… Eliza shares her time between the US, Dominican Republic and beyond. When she is not caring for her high-energy kids, writing her poetry or for her blog, creating art or cooking up a storm, she is designing for her own company, Design Intense.

3 Comments on “Eat like a (healthy) kid and other perspectives”

  1. Hello! Would you mind if I share your blog with my zynga group?
    There’s a lot of folks that I think would really appreciate your content.

    Please let me know. Many thanks

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