A couple of days ago I was in a restaurant in a town called Cassino, about 140km south of Rome. We go there often so the waiter knows us well.
Two seats to my left was a middle aged Italian man. While he didn’t speak English, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to see that he was on a diet.
As a joke, the waiter brought our dieting friend (as I’ll call him) a plate of sliced tomatoes adorned with nothing but a single sprig of basil.
Everyone thought that was hilarious.
As if by contrast, the same waiter made a joke that if I continued to eat as much as I was eating, I’d lose my figure. A bit bizarre, but I knew it was meant as a strange sort of compliment. But I laughed inside because I realised that this was what everyone at the table must be thinking.
Yes, I was eating a lot. I often do. But still I easily maintain my ideal figure.
To those who don’t know about nutrition and the science of our metabolism, this probably seems a complete paradox. After all, don’t bigger portions mean weight gain. Don’t you need to eat less to lose weight and stay slim?
Sure, you can lose weight by eating less. But this is a quick fix with results that almost never last. In fact, only 5% of dieters maintain their weight loss long term. This makes sense if we just drop our idealism and accept one golden truth:
Eating good food is one of life’s greatest pleasures.
With this in mind, there is only so long you can put up with constant hunger pains and the grumpiness that comes along with it before you cave, go back to your pre-starvation eating habits and then pile the weight back on.
Let’s do some comparisons from that meal in Cassino.
Our dieting friend ate: some sliced tomato. A small plate of pasta with tomato sauce. The crust from 7 pieces of Italian bread (he wouldn’t eat the middle). 1 slice of Parma ham.
Here’s what I ate: to start, a giant Italian style salad of greens, tomato, tuna, berlotti beans, and olives dressed with balsamic vinegar and a tiny drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Main course was a delicious piece of seared sword-fish and grilled Mediterranean vegetables (peppers, aubergines and courgettes). For dessert I had a large wedge of freshly sliced watermelon and an espresso.
Which would you rather?
Obliviously, I ate a lot more. I ate until I was happily full and satisfied.
Our dieting friend ate very little. He used every ounce of his willpower not to splurge on the soft white centres of the bread and eat a bigger bowl of pasta. Unsurprisingly, at the end of the meal he looked defeated and deeply unhappy.
So how am I, and my clients able to eat so much and keep the fat off, while he struggles to eat like a bird and still can’t shift the weight?
Here’s how: we know something crucial that most dieters don't….
You see, I know that as long as I choose the highest quality food (fresh vegetables, salads, lean protein, nuts, legumes etc.), that I can eat as much as I need to feel full without worrying about weight gain.
I also know that if eat low quality refined food that is low in fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (like white bread, pasta and packaged processed food) that I would have had to seriously cut back my portion sizes too.
That’s not to say I don’t ever eat pasta. I live in the pasta capitol of the world and oh do they make amazing pasta here. But I know how often I can fit it into my life so that I can enjoy it guiltlessly without ever needing to diet.
The rest of the time I eat the type of real, whole, nutrient dense food that tastes heavenly while leaving my body energised and my metabolism charged.
Now that’s freedom.
So the next time you find yourself thinking about how you should eat less, challenge yourself and ask if you’d be better off putting higher quality food on your plate so you can relax, enjoy your meal and not stress about the portion size.
Who's Behind FYAM?
I’m Melanie Stephens a qualified nutritionist, chef and workout enthusiast who’s wildly passionate about helping people get healthy, lean and energised so they can lead truly exceptional lives of their own design.
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