I am going to start this post with a notice to all readers that I am not a nutritionist, and I have struggled with my own body weight for my entire life. I confess, mostly because I love food and I often use it as a medication for fatigue and stress. I am therefore qualified to say what definitely does not work!

I am not an expert on what exactly to eat and when, for losing or gaining weight. I am not the best person to tell you what supplements to take, or what foods are best ingested to prevent gut issues. I do not seek to provide you with expert guidance for your individual nutritional issues. I leave that to the professionals

But I am someone who has lived in the world of human performance for my whole professional life, and I do know what I should be eating when, and I don’t do it very well! And I know that most people struggle with the same issues and struggle with all the misinformation out there in a world divided by the for profit food industry.

I am, however, a keen observer of bullshit! And I have been witnessing the BS that has been perpetuated by the food and diet industries on so many people who seem helpless to understand what to do.

The solution, follow this diet, only eat this food with this one, eat this many times a day, increase your carbs, decrease your fats, load up on your proteins, and on and on. If someone actually documented all the advise given to the general public in the past 30 plus years about what to eat, the point counter point of it all would be overwhelming.

It is overwhelming!

I am someone with a high level of education in the industry of human performance, and truthfully, I just don’t know what is up or what is down these days! So if I feel like this, I can only imagine what regular people feel like who have little, or no education in nutrition!

So, I thought I would provide five relatively easy strategies (with one bonus strategy) to consider when you eat each day. If you do them, you will see and feel a difference in your energy levels, body weight, and your internal dialogue that torments you every day for not being healthy.

First things first, we just plain and simply eat too much every day. Certainly this is a generalization, and for those of you who feel you don’t eat too much every day, this strategy is not for you. But for those of you who seek the truth just take a second to understand what you put on your plate on a daily basis.

Most people, ballpark, should be eating between 2000 and 4000 calories a day, 4000 being relatively high and aligning with people who are bigger and pretty active. And when I say pretty active, I don’t mean you go to the gym each day and run on the treadmill for 30 minutes, or do a tabata circuit or a cross-fit workout.

I mean every day your life involves moving heavy things, lifting things, using your body to get places. You are constantly physically active! For those of us who do some physical gym activity and then head back to the office or out for dinner, we are lucky if we blow off between 300 and 700 calories in a workout. So keep that in your head as I work through this next paragraph.

So let’s start with our love of the restaurant. How often do you go out for dinner, lunch or breakfast in a week? Be honest. If you’re like most people, you are probably eating at a restaurant 3–5 times a week in some way or another.

Just about every restaurant meal no matter where you eat is serving you 2–5 times more calories in a given sitting than you should be eating, and that is if you are trying to eat well!

Typical major breakfast chain breakfast — 800–1200 calories

Typical major fast food chain lunch — 1000–2000 calories

Typical restaurant (could be any style) dinner — 2000–4000 calories

There are restaurants that serve appetizers, yes appetizers that have more than 1000 calories! Who’s appetite are they intending to appetize anyway?

So if you do the math, in one day you can easily be eating 3–5000 calories with very little effort. So how do you make a dent in this if you are running in today’s fast paced life!

First, slow down, but that is another post in its entirety, so we’ll just focus on strategies that can help in your current reality.

1 — Never drink alcohol before you start eating* — never! When you start a meal with a glass of wine or other spirits several things happen:

a) You ingest empty calories that actually cause your body to bank your calories in fat cells, thus compounding the problem!

b) You loose all capacity to make good decisions on what you should eat. You know it!

c) Your eyes figuratively get bigger than your stomach!

*Drink water instead, lots of it. It will fill your stomach and reduce the amount of food you will likely want to consume as the meal get’s rolling

2 — Eat a snack of a real food source like nuts, seeds, whole fruit or vegetables, or a small amount of quality meat source before you go out for dinner or to a restaurant — this will insure you are not arriving at the restaurant hungry, because when you are hungry you eat more than you should before you know you ate more than you should! This, by the way is also true of grocery shopping!

3 — Never, never, never eat appetizers! Just don’t order appetizers. If you can’t stand watching other people eat, then have a green salad. This includes never eating bread! Send the bread away when it comes to your table (or let your friends eat it all!)

4 — Don’t order dessert. Once a week, go for it because if you never eat it, you’ll likely go off the rails one day and eat more than your weight in your favourite ice cream, so just have one cheat day a week when you grant yourself the privilege of eating some dessert, otherwise curb it!

5 — For the other meals of the day, don’t eat the extras. At breakfast, if you want to have, say a breakfast sandwich, then have a breakfast sandwich (usually between 300–500 calories) but nothing else, not hash browns, or a second sandwich, or large glass of juice, or muffin, just the sandwich!

Bonus rule: eat less processed foods in general. If its been packaged, then chances are it is processed and in general has way more calories and way less food value. Try to eat natural food, cooked or raw, way more often than processed. When you go to the grocery store, make sure 80–90% of your cart is full of “real” food sources!

Now, I am not saying you will lose weight, or become the next cover of GQ or Vogue magazine by following these suggestions. But what I am saying is you will be more likely to be eating the number of calories you need daily to function. You will likely have more energy, and you might have a better chance of fitting into the clothes you bought this year over the course of future years, therefore reducing your overall cost of living! Not to mention how much lower your restaurant bills will be! Try it and see, what do you have to loose……

Originally published at medium.com