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Posted by on Feb 15, 2013 in Featured, Health & Fitness, Optimizing Life | 0 comments

Develop Healthy Eating Habits Using Technology

Develop Healthy Eating Habits Using Technology

I need to lose some weightOne of my friends who read my blog postings on losing weight has started his own health regime using a Fitbit and myfitnesspal. He had a very good question though, what do you do with all the data?

I explained that he needed to understand that, in my experience, you only lose weight by embarking on a lifestyle change as opposed to a diet. To me, “diet” is a bad word. Diet, by definition, implies restriction. To be successful he needs to create a habit of healthy eating and living versus cutting out everything he enjoys and eating Melba toast. The latter approach will likely result in his boredom and failure. Likewise, the data he captures will assist him in making decisions to create changes related to what he eats, when he eats and what activities he performs.

So, how does the data help?

At the end of the day I learned that I needed to maintain a balance sheet, just as I would with my finances. I have a budget of how much I can eat and myfitnesspal helps me track my caloric intake. If I go over budget I need to look at ways to increase my budget to offset that. This can be achieved in this case by exercising more; that’s where the Fitbit comes in.

Ultimately, I use data to help me make good choices for myself. The use of technology in this case provides a greater understanding of the nutritional value of food and allows you think twice before you choose the chocolate bar over the large nutritional bowl of strawberries. Additionally, if you track something, you have a greater chance of sticking to your goals and objectives. You can monitor your progress every day, using progress as a motivational tool.

Healthy Breakfast

A healthy well balanced breakfast is important

Six meals a day?

I also learned that how often you eat is critical. We often hear that breakfast is an essential meal, and that is absolutely correct. The reason behind this is as such: you typically haven’t eaten for 8-10 hours before you eat breakfast; therefore, you want to start the day off with a well-balanced meal. Now, taking the concept of reducing the gaps between meals, you should be focused on eating six meals a day. Why? Doing so will assist in controlling your appetite, raising your metabolism and reducing the chances of overeating. This was a major contributor to my weight loss. If I didn’t eat six meals a day, then I would experience hunger before eating and would in turn eat more during the meal.

In my case I determined when I would consume my six daily meals, taking in to consideration that at least 2-3 hours between each meal is ideal. My six meals often encompass breakfast, a mid-morning snack, lunch, a mid-afternoon snack, dinner and finally a light snack in the evening. It’s not set in stone how you break down your calorie targets through the day; you can spread the calories out over each meal or target three main meals and three snacks. The goal, however, is to remember that the combination of all six meals will provide the correct balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fat, vitamins and minerals. The breakdown of these is specific to your objectives and I encourage you to research what’s suitable for your goals (e.g. weight loss versus building muscle).

Recommendation | How do you start?

Now, my final recommendation is to start slowly. What’s important is to monitor your normal intake for at least a week to get a baseline of where you began. If you eat a hamburger and fries three times a week and a pizza slice with the kids at hockey, its important to see what that represents. In turn, the following week when you’re wandering the food court for lunch, you’ll think twice about the burger and fries and perhaps make a healthy choice that balances the books at the end of the day.

If you are using technology to assist you in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, please share your experiences in the comments section below.

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