BEWARE of Zero Calorie Foods!

Calories are how we measure the energy needed and used by the body. Leave it to humans to figure out how to consume foods that have no calories but are these foods part of the problem or part of the solution?

If you are an overweight person who can’t seem to walk passed the cookie aisle without picking up a few bags then you probably feel these zero calorie foods are part of the solution. I hate to burst the bubble but these “foods” are actually creating a bigger problem.

How would you feel if you drove up to the gas station, filled your gas tank and then learned that what you put in your tank had no energy value whatsoever? As a matter of fact, even though you saw this new fuel go into the car your car is still registering that there is nothing in the tank. The fuel sensor light is still on and the car will not start. Your body is no different. It still thinks it’s running on empty.

It continues to prompt you for food and you continue to feed it zero calorie foods but your body is a whole lot smarter than your car – it can slow down processes (like your metabolism) in order to run more efficiently. Slowing down your metabolism is why you don’t have the energy to exercise and why it takes a lot of effort to get off the sofa and walk to the fridge or do anything at all.

Another thing your body can do that your car cannot is turn what calorie rich foods you do eat into fat that it can store and use for fuel so it can complete all necessary processes. THIS is why you seem to continue to gain weight even though you are being “good” and eating all that food in the form of zero calorie foods.

One more thing that your body does that your car cannot is to use what is consumed before it taps into what it has stored. Think about it this way…..when you get hungry what’s the first thing you do? Yeah, look in the food pantry, fridge, freezer and all the hiding spots throughout the house. You don’t want to go to the grocery store if you don’t have to so you check to see what you have on hand first. Your body does the same thing. When it needs to complete a bodily process it will first check to see what it has on hand – what have you recently eaten? If it doesn’t find what it needs (calories, vital nutrients, water, fat, protein, etc) it will tap into the fat stores BUT if it is running low on anything it begins to hoard everything coming in and it creates cravings for foods that it can use to create more storage. WHY?

Because it thinks you are in a famine. It can’t see that there is food all around you. Your body only knows what you put into it and if all you are putting into are zero calorie foods then, as far as your body is concerned, you are not putting anything into it so it has to store everything it can to make sure that it survives the famine.

How do you change this? Dump it – get rid of all the zero calorie foods you’ve been eating. I don’t care that some of the boxes and packages aren’t opened yet. Get rid of it and I don’t mean “take it to the food shelter” – zero calorie foods aren’t FOOD and they aren’t okay for anyone to consume, EVER.

Now, look in your food pantry, fridge, freezer and all the hiding spots in the house – and don’t forget about that drawer you have at work – Yes, I know about the drawer…..what snack foods can you put in these places that will feed your body? You’ll most likely end up with lots of extra space in your food pantry because “good-for-your-body” snack foods very rarely come in storage containers like cans, boxes or bags.

What fruit do you love?

What are your favorite vegetables?

What whole grains do you like?

How about lean proteins or dairy?

Forget about everything you’ve read….list the foods that are YOUR favorites; not the foods that someone else has told you that you should be eating. They are not you. You are unique and therefore the foods you eat should be unique to YOU.

Let’s chat briefly about whole grains. I ask this question of my childbirth students as well as my weight loss clients – what whole grains do you like? Inevitably the answers begin with, “100% Whole Wheat Bread,” “Wheat Thins,” “whole wheat tortillas,” etc. THESE ARE NOT WHOLE GRAINS! These began with a whole grain that was then processed and refined in order to make the final product but they are no longer whole grains.

A whole grain would be brown rice, quinoa, barley, millet, etc. There are a lot of whole grains and they can all be prepared in a variety of ways that keep them in their whole state. Some grains are gluten free so if you suspect that gluten might be an issue for you then choose from the gluten free grains like quinoa, millet, brown rice, etc.

Let’s also talk about dairy and lean protein – we live in a time when it has become more and more important to seek out organic sources. Raw milk is better than pasteurized and homogenized. Recent reports have stated that our daughters are starting their menstrual cycles as early as age 6 and the way we raise the animals that provide our food play a major role in this. We are also experiencing a lot of antibiotic resistance which has also been brought about by these practices.

If possible raise your own chickens, turkeys, and cows. Use the eggs, milk and protein they provide. If you don’t have the ability to raise your own then, as I mentioned earlier, seek out organic sources. They are more expensive but well worth the price when you consider the health benefits they will provide to you and your family. You are the only one who cares about you – the government only cares about the bottom line and foods that promote health do not cause us to spend money in other areas – like pharmaceuticals for illnesses.

The bottom line is this…..eat the foods that feed your body what it needs and it won’t have a reason to store anything as fat for use at a later time. It will have all that it needs to complete all of its processes. Feeding your body real food will also encourage your body to increase your metabolism so it will be able to burn what you eat and you won’t be able to overeat either because you will be including fiber in your daily routine and leaving the high calorie, low to zero nutrient foods out.

Increase your activity – this won’t be a problem…..just wait for it…..it will happen. As your body has energy to burn you will find it near impossible to sit still all day and do nothing. Your home will be cleaner, your yard will look fabulous and your kids, friends and family will be grateful to have you back in their lives.

Now, go clean out your pantry and show yourself how much you love you by eating real food!

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