I hear ya.
In fact most women can relate. This is one of the most common things I hear from women who struggle to maintain the weight they desire and most certainly deserve.
What most women don't know is that it is possible, verrryyyyy possible to eat healthy and still put on weight. You can put on weight from eating healthy foods. It comes down to understanding how much you are eating and what you are eating...and I don't mean 'are you eating a Mars bar?' I mean 'are you aware of the amount of calories or macro-nutrients in that food?'
Is this you...
1. Are you over eating? Is there too much food on your plate?
This is quite common for women who eat with their male partners. Naturally men will and need to eat more than women, so when we go to dish up dinner or our partner dishes up dinner, they dish up the same amount. To know what portion to eat, comes down to your weight and goals...but my first tip is - what your boyfriend or dad or even male house mate is eating, is more than likely too big for you!
2. Are you eating calorie dense foods? Foods that have 'hidden' calories...
Well foods can't really have 'hidden' calories, as most foods you buy from the supermarket have the nutritional information on the back. However, if you don't know how to read the information or interpret what it means, then it's no use anyway. I often think this is the sort of information we need to learn at school, as opposed to how to write an analytical essay on 'The Falling of Hitler'. With all respect to my history teacher friends out there, food and nutrition stuff impacts EVERYONE. A very broad and general tip for women is - if it's got around 10 grams of fat, 22 grams of protein and 30 grams of carbs per serve, then gals, you are looking at a meal, not a snack.
3. Are you getting fooled by the branding of products?
The branding of food does not always match what is actually in it. Or often foods infer that they are something they are not. Take this 'Raw Protein Bar' for example (see above image). It is delicious, I might add and it has all-natural ingredients, which is awesome and often hard to find. However it's labelled as a protein bar, but look on the back - per serve there are 12.9 grams of fat, 15.1 grams of protein and 18.9 grams of carbs. It actually has more carbohydrates in it than it does protein...so why isn't it called a carbohydrate bar then? Well that's because we have been made to think 'carbohydrate' is a dirty word. Which they shouldn't be!
4. Do you understand what calories are?
A lot of businesses in the diet or food plan industry market their products as "no-more counting calories" and I think to myself 'well how are you going to track how much you eat?' (excluding those who count their macros). Some may respond with 'I just eat until I am full' and I think 'well how's that going for you then?' For some people with a particular body type, or those who are the non-indulgent type, this can totally work. For the rest of us, we need to have a unit of measure that tells us how much we are eating. Calories are a unit of measure. It's the same as measuring how many litres of water we drink. 'Litre' is not a dirty word, so why is the word calorie? And why are we so darn hooked on getting our 100 litres of water a day but are scared to track how much we eat?
Let's be totally honest. When you are 'counting' or 'tracking your calories' it means you have control over how much you eat, therefore it means you have to say no when you know you have reached your limit and it means you can't go back for seconds.
Easier said than done, right?
Definition of a calorie: A calorie is a unit of measurement. Calories enable you to measure the appropriate amount of energy needed for the body. In very, very simple terms, each individual requires a certain amount of calories to maintain a healthy weight. If you eat more than your body requires, you will gain weight; if you eat less than your body requires, then you will lose weight.
5. Do you understand what macro-nutrients are? Do you know how much of them you need? And do you know why each of them are just as important as each other?
Macro-nutrients (macros) are the protein, fat and carbohydrates in food that the body recognises and uses to function. Very simply (again); the body uses protein to repair itself and for muscle growth. One gram of protein is 4 calories. The body uses carbohydrates as energy and fuel. One gram of carbohydrates is 4 calories. The body uses fats to regulate hormones. One gram of fat is 9 calories.
Everybody is different and each of us require a different amount according to our goals (weight loss, weight gain or weight maintenance), our body type and how active we are. As a starting point, I would use an online calculator such as the Harris-Benedict formula or Mifflin - St Jeor equation, which will work out what your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Your BMR is how many calories your body burns when resting. This is a general calculator and in order to get complete accuracy, you would need get a body composition analysis. As interesting as an analysis is, let's not major in the minors just yet. Both calculators work out how much you need to eat (in calories), in order to achieve your goal. From there, I suggest a balanced diet where 30% of your daily consumption is protein, 30% fat and 40% carbs.
If you are looking to lose weight or start living a healthy, happy lifestyle without depriving yourself of the finer 'foods' in life, then check out The Melbourne Foodie guide. This will be released in October 2016.