From May 12-18 it’s National Women’s Health Week, an annual effort put on by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office to encourage women to be as healthy as possible. To help observe the week, we’re speaking with experts about everything from mental health, diet, pregnancy, fertility issues and more.
Singer Ciara recently shared that the secret to her coveted figure is, aside from drinking a lot of water, eating a lot of meals in small portions throughout the day.
“Five to eight small meals a day. That’s really important,” the 33-year-old shared when asked about how she got her body back in shape after birthing her second child, Sienna. “Your metabolism speeds up really fast and it’s kind of like good balance for you. You’re always hungry when you’re doing that but you’re never really like, crazy full.”
However, when I asked Nicolette Pace, a New York City-based registered dietician, chef and nutritionist, about whether or not the small meals a day diet helps in the effort to slim down, she respectfully passed on the idea.
“It doesn’t. If you’re not hungry you shouldn’t eat,” she said. “You should be eating every four to six hours. If you’re not hungry and you’re eating six meals a day, you’ll most likely gain weight.”
Instead of scarfing down a lot of a little, when it comes to the food you consume when you’re trying to be healthier and shed the pounds, skip fads and trying to trick your body. Pace says you should, first and foremost, be clear on what you don’t need to be eating.
“Losing weight is not only about what you’re putting into your body, but it’s what you’re avoiding too.” she said. “Processed foods are one of the biggest problems with dieting because they’re packed with chemicals and ingredients that we don’t even know what they are. Read the labels. If it has more than five ingredients in it, skip it. I’m talking about things like crackers, chips, frozen meals, etc. Anything that is not a whole food that has one ingredient, you should research it and find out what you’re actually putting into your body.”
It’s also recommended that you read the labels on the back of the things you consume, not only the ingredients. Being aware of things like fat, protein, sodium and carbohydrate values can help you make better choices. As for what you should eat, keep it simple, but have fun with it. Pace’s blog, NutriSource Inc, has plenty of recipes, food ideas and nutrition advice to help you along the way.
“You want to add in more whole foods and protein to keep you going and so you won’t be hungry one hour after eating,” she said. “Whole grains, fruit, vegetables, protein, fiber, etc. Learn to cook healthy foods in ways that make them tastier, by adding spice for example, and replace snacks with healthier options.”
It can be difficult to avoid snacks, though. However, if you’re someone who always feels the need to chew on something, even when you’re not hungry, you can get some satisfaction from things like nuts and remixed veggies.
“Try gum! It can help with that issue.” she said. “If that doesn’t work, try kale chips, they’re a great example of a healthy snack because they’re easy to make, delicious, and you can snack on them when you need something to chew on. Have an apple with nut butter. You want to pair fruit with a protein to help with the sugar level. Nuts are a delicious option, too, as you can roast them and add any spice you like. Almonds are my favorite.”
Once you have a good idea of what you want to eat and what you should leave on the store shelf, you can best check what helps you make the progress you’re seeking by keeping a record of your meals. Although it can be tedious at times, Pace says it helps to hold you accountable, which will help you stay on the straight and narrow path to an even more narrow waist.
“Tracking your eating is an amazing way to cut down on your calories and eat healthy,” she said. “They are so many research studies out there that say if you track what you eat every day then you will drop weight quicker and eat healthier. If tracking in an app is too hard, then try just writing it down in a notebook. If you see that you eat pizza, chips and soda for lunch, you most likely will make a healthy choice for dinner to balance out your day. Tracking food is not for everyone, but if I said that it could make a difference in your weight-loss goal and help you drop pounds faster, most of my clients would do it.”