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How do I know if I'm eating too much food?

At the Ab Factory we are big advocates of eating more food to speed up the metabolic rate. 

For a lot of people, understandably, this is a new concept that takes time for them to learn and trust. 

Mel has lost 12kg by eating more food

This is Mel.

Mel has been on her journey of self-discovery for the last 6 months. After many years of yo-yo dieting and struggling with her weight, she has been very receptive to our advice and steadily applied the information. And despite the fact that “eating more food” is a new concept to her and goes against everything she has been taught, she has been willing to humour us and give it a try. As a result she has already lost an impressive 12 kg.

However, like most people who have been on the diet roller-coaster for most of their lives, out of habit she still worries that she is eating too much food. Old habits die hard, and for anyone that has been a slave to the notion of “eat less to lose weight” for most of their adult life, a change in belief takes a lot more than 6 months. 

Even when the results prove otherwise.

Mel has been embracing strength training in order to build a metabolism that burns calories more effectively

Building the right support network

One of the key aspects of Mel’s new-found success is surrounding herself with people that have been in her shoes and come out the other side. Every month she comes to see us for her check-in at the Ab Factory, and is surrounded by people like Tracee and Rachel who were once in a similar situation to her. They are now a lot further ahead in their own journeys, they have applied the information for longer and therefore experienced more results.

So despite Mel’s apprehension to eat more food, she is surrounded by people who have already done it. This has been monumental in giving her the visual proof she needs as she takes each next step in her own journey.

Hence, she has been cautiously increasing her feeding frequency little by little, and started embracing the process of building muscle to increase her metabolic rate.

Mel has been making healthy meals that are vibrant and tasty to keep her satisfied and reduce cravings

Every successful transformation has its road bumps, and Mel’s journey is no exception. She confided in me recently that despite her best intentions, she had had a moment of weakness and over-consumed on her favourite “bonus” food (insert your own favourite "off-the-plan" food here for the purposes of this scenario).  

We value integrity first and foremost at the Ab Factory, so we congratulated her on her honesty and then started looking for the triggers to her behaviour.

Mel acknowledged that having a surplus supply of her favourite “bonus” foods in her house had made it harder for her to resist, and doing another "purge and pillage" would help create an environment where she is less susceptible to temptation. 

But the mishap had already caused her to plateau, and, like most people do when they hit a bump in the road, her cornerstone habit returned.

And so she asked me the famous question again that so many females struggle with at different stages of their journey: “How do I know if I am eating too much food?”

One thing I learnt early in my career is that in order to teach people what they need to know, you can’t always answer their questions.

Sometimes, it’s about telling them they’re not asking the right question, and then explaining to them what the question should be.

Gladysha ate more and more "food" as her body got leaner. Her vegetable intake more than doubled and her "bonus foods" got reduced - resulting in more food overall but less calories consumed. Click on the picture to read her story

Why lean people ask different questions

And so herein lies the real problem: often when people hit a plateau, they don't blame the food that caused them to plateau and/or gain weight in the first place. Instead they blame all food.

Which means the reason for their predicament is not that they are eating too much food, but more so that they are still asking the wrong question. And if they are still asking the wrong question, they will definitely receive the wrong answer...

Mel swapped soft drink for sparkling water - a simple and effective calorie reduction.

Out of curiosity, I asked Mel to explain to me why she was worried about eating too much food when she had also just acknowledged that she had been over-consuming on her favourite bonus food.

“Because in that situation, the answer is obvious. I already know I shouldn’t be over-consuming on that food, it happened by accident.” she said. “I just don’t know if I’m eating too much food, overall.”

"Which food am I consuming that is stopping me from losing weight?" is the right question...

The problem with "eating less food" is that it directly causes hunger and binge-eating, as well as a steadily declining metabolism that can't cope with the inconsistent floods of empty calories (insulin resistance). 

Hence, "trying to eat less food" is the very thought process that causes people to gain weight in the first place and never get it off. Eating less food causes two conflicting scenarios: a low metabolism and uncontrollable cravings. Hence, they cancel each other out. 

Why it's so easy to accidentally over-consume on "bonus" food...

It doesn’t matter if your favourite “bonus” food is bread, ice cream, burgers, cheese and crackers, alcohol, chips or chocolate. Chances are that some (or all) of your favourite foods have a high degree of processing.

Processed food is incredibly easy to eat (and therefore easy to over-eat). It is jam-packed with flavour and minimal fibre. You don’t need to chew it and your body doesn’t need to break it down. All the work is done for you. It is a pleasure to eat and makes you feel great. You could easily consume a week’s worth of calories in one sitting when the food is highly processed, and you probably won't even feel full or bloated.

But have you ever tried eating a whole head of broccoli in one sitting? That would be almost impossible… and yet people still worry that they are eating too many vegetables. ;-)

Mel has been steadily increasing her intake of unprocessed plant matter. Hence, she has been having less cravings and feeling more energetic when the trains. This is why her results have been so steady and consistent.

Learning to ask the right questions

In conclusion, if you have hit a plateau in your transformation, don't ask yourself if you've been eating too much food.

Ask if you've been eating too much bonus food. 😊

Trish xoxo

PS: Read my trainer profile here

Transformation tip: Eating more vegetables will help you break through a plateau. Eat more bonus food will not ;-)

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