Managing your weight is not always easy. It is impossible to maintain a weight at the same level permanently. It is in the nature of man to see fluctuations from day to day. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t maintain a healthy weight over a longer period of time.
To maintain your weight, the most important thing is learning to eat according to your needs. And you can do that by learning to listen to yourself.
Every day, our body needs energy to perform the tasks we ask it to do. This can be physical or intellectual.
In this article, I’m going to discuss in a little more detail what I mean by eating according to your needs. I am not going to describe a food plan, nor am I going to suggest that you follow this or that diet.
The goal is for you to ask yourself the right questions about your diet, and start taking the first step towards a healthy and balanced diet.
1. Understand your needs
It all starts with understanding your needs. To eat properly, we need to know what our bodies need to function throughout the day.
For example, if you know you’re going to work out the next day, it’s a good idea to eat a little more carbs the night before. So is eating protein for recovery.
If you feel tired one night, it is possible that you did not eat enough during the day. If you have trouble recovering after a workout, chances are you didn’t give your body what it needed.
It is by learning to listen to what it is telling you that you can provide it with the right food.
So, the first step towards healthy nutrition is to take the time to listen to yourself, to understand yourself, and to feed yourself accordingly.
2. Eat according to your needs
What is eating according to your needs? As you have no doubt read elsewhere before, you need to count your calories.
As a general rule, we tend to underestimate the amount of calories we consume, and overestimate what we need. The result: we gain weight.
It’s not necessarily easy to find a caloric balance. This is done over a longer period of time, by trying out different dietary rhythms over the weeks and months. I say rhythm, because I don’t really like the term diet.
Dieting is often seen as a short-term solution, but health is a long-term project. The two do not go together.
The number of calories we need can vary from day to day. A simple mathematical calculation will not give the answer, but only an approximation. What does this mean? We must learn to listen to ourselves.
If you feel hungry, eat a little more. If you feel full, put your leftovers in a tupperware and keep them in the fridge for the next day.
Tip: Avoid empty calories such as sodas, sweets and other foods with no nutritional value.
3. Eat what you need
In the previous section, I talked about eating according to your needs. This involved eating according to your hunger and your daily energy needs. Eating what you need is slightly different.
You may have heard of the terms Macro and Micronutrients. Basically, it’s everything in the food you eat. For example, we’ll list carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in macronutrients. Iron, vitamins, calcium, potassium, and many others will fall into the micronutrient category.
There’s no need to complicate things: you need to eat a little bit of everything. It’s ridiculous to demonize starches or fats and put proteins on a pedestal. Our bodies need everything to function.
However, it does not necessarily need everything at the same time. Our body will use what it needs when it needs it. For example, our body uses starchy foods first as a source of energy, and uses protein to rebuild muscles after exercise.
This is why we often hear about a balanced meal containing all three macronutrients on a plate.
4. Understand what to eat
To eat healthy, we need to understand what our nutrients are used for, and how our bodies use them.
It is not necessary to go into great detail, but it is necessary to understand what our body needs, and why. If you are doing a physical effort, you need to provide protein to allow the muscles to repair damaged tissue. If you do an endurance activity, you need to provide enough energy to maintain the effort over time, namely starchy foods.
For a day at the office, it’s simple, our body needs the same foods, but in smaller quantities. There’s no point in eating a big plate of spaghetti at lunchtime and a huge bowl of rice in the evening if you’re not going to do an intense sports session afterwards.
The excess will simply be stored as fat. However, just like a physical effort, the intellectual effort made at work also requires energy. It is therefore important to understand what to eat according to the type of effort you are going to make.
5. Know when to eat
Finally, last on this list: time. It’s important to eat at the right time, and this ties in perfectly with the previous points.
Eating well also means eating when you need to. We have an annoying tendency to eat as soon as we feel “hungry”. But are we really hungry? Is it not rather a lack of sugar linked to the bad habit of a high consumption? Is it simply the cleaning of our intestines that produces this gurgling associated with hunger?
There is not necessarily a wrong time to eat. However, it is not necessary to eat a large meal just before going to bed, or to eat shortly before exercising. Just as it is not necessarily required to eat breakfast.
That the latter is the most important meal of the day is just the product of an advertising lie designed to sell us cereals.
It is very simple, we must eat regularly, and in a way that gives our body time to digest and use what we provide. Eating huge quantities to “make up” for a lighter meal, as well as depriving yourself for a whole day to compensate for a heavy meal the day before are not healthy.
A regular caloric intake, spread out over the day as it suits you, is what you need. No more, no less.
To eat well, you must eat according to your needs. It is by taking the time to understand yourself, to adjust your food according to your efforts, and by eating when you need to, that you will develop good eating habits.
Make it easy on yourself by focusing on the small changes: the ones you can control. Forcing yourself to follow a diet that doesn’t suit you will only lead to failure. Instead of a diet, find your own eating pattern and stick with it over time.
It is by learning to yourself that you will eat well.