What you eat WILL affect how you look.
We've had quite a few questions lately asking if we count calories, monitor our macros or cut carbs to stay lean and healthy. Because we feel there's a much better way to reach your healthy weight (one that allows an occasional French fry or two... thank goodness!), we wanted to share with you what works for us when it comes to watching our weight. Hopefully, it'll help you too!
1. Portion control
I (Kalie) have always struggled with portion control. To help with accountability, I have tried counting calories and monitoring my macros before, but inevitably ended up getting frustrated that I couldn't keep up with it OR becoming obsessed with tracking every last detail of each meal. For me, it became exhausting and took the fun out of eating (and I love to eat!).
Rather than counting macros or calories, we make a conscious effort to pay attention to our portions, as well as balance how much of each food group we're eating.
The guide pictured below has become our holy grail for portions. We're visual girls, so being able to look at our hand to determine how much of something we should be eating (a palm-size amount of meat) or relate portions to tangible things, such as a ping pong ball-size amount of fat (like nut butter), has really helped us.
2. Carbs (a.k.a. the food group we love most)
We don't believe in completely cutting carbs, because a life without bread and sweet potatoes is not a life we could happily live. But we eat them in moderation, which has been a TOTAL game changer for us.
We try to keep our carbs to less than a quarter of our meal (which is also broken down on the plate guide below). Our sandwiches are typically open-faced. We'll eyeball or scoop rice onto our plate with a ¼ cup measuring cup, etc. This is an imperative aspect of our diet. By limiting but allowing ourselves carbs at each meal, we satisfy our carb cravings, reap the benefits of healthy carbs and are able to maintain a healthy weight.
3. Snacking (the struggle is REAL)
We try not to snack unless we're actually hungry... which is another area I (Kalie) struggle with on a daily basis. Since becoming aware of my tendency to want to snack when I'm feeling bored, tired and anxious, I'm now able to control my urges and avoid snacking to satisfy a feeling rather than hunger. To hold myself accountable, I ask myself two questions before eating:
- Am I physically hungry? If the answer is NO, it's likely that my desire to eat is a response to emotion, NOT hunger.
- What is driving me to want to eat right now? How am I feeling?
If eating out of emotion is something you struggle with too, we highly recommend that you check out FfL's incredible article which further breaks down Emotional Eating.
4. Balance baby, BALANCE
We allow ourselves treats throughout the week because, honestly, we couldn't live without a little ice cream or a cookie once in awhile. That's where The 80/20 Approach comes into play (80% of the time we aim to eat healthy, 20% treats). The math is simple: We eat three well-balanced meals a day, so four meals a week are reserved to indulge in our favorites.
5. Self-awareness and accountability
A healthy diet isn't possible without AWARENESS and ACCOUNTABILITY. When we notice we're starting to fall off the portion-control wagon or we're snacking too much, we use the Food and Fitness Log that was created for our blog readers. We don't get too specific by tracking the exact measurements of what we're eating, but we do try to keep it as accurate as possible.
We've found that holding ourselves accountable by writing down what we're eating and visually seeing it snaps us back into proper portion control pretty quickly! (When you know you have to write down those 2 tablespoons of nut butter that you ate simply because you're bored, you think twice before eating it.)
In a nutshell...
- We try to follow serving sizes and portion control.
- We plan our plate based on food groups.
- We love carbs, so we don't eliminate them, but we try to keep them to a minimum.
- We try not to snack unless we're actually hungry, and when we do, we aim to make healthy snack choices.
- We allow ourselves occasional treats but stick to The 80/20 Approach.
- We print and use the FfL Food and Fitness Log whenever we feel like we're starting to fall off the wagon.
Find what works for you
We know there's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to creating a healthy lifestyle, but we wanted to share with you what we've found works best (for us). It may take a little trial and error, but you CAN create a healthy maintainable lifestyle without driving yourself bonkers!