So you've completed a juice fast, sworn off sweets for the month and lost a few pounds, Congratulations! Now keep that good health and weight loss going. Maintain your momentum by incorporating a few of these simple tips into your new healthy lifestyle.
- Eat Lots of Vegetables. Per the FDA, half of every meal should be vegetables and fruits. Perhaps that translates to a big salad for lunch and a mostly-veggie dinner. At restaurants, order a salad before your meal to commit to eating lots of veggies. A good variety of different kinds of seasonal vegetables will ensure you get a broad spectrum of nutrients.
- Consumer Organic & Grass-Fed Meat, Dairy & Eggs. Conventionally raised animal products contain hormones, antibiotics and pesticide residues. These compounds have been linked to weight gain, endocrine/hormone disruption and breast cancer, among other health problems. Grass-fed or pastured animal products have higher levels of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids so they are more heart-healthy. Finally, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) calls antibiotic resistance one of the world's most pressing health problems, so reducing your exposure to antibiotic-laced animal products may help stop the spread of antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" like MRSA.
- Hunger is the Enemy of Healthy Eating! Always make sure you make a plan and have healthy snacks on hand. Dedicate one day a week to plan, shop and prep your food.
- Read Labels. Even the prepared vegetarian sushi rolls at Whole Foods contain added sugar. Reading labels can help you avoid unnecessary and potentially harmful additives like sugar, MSG, and synthetic fillers. In the words of Michael Pollan, "If you can't say it, don't eat it."
- Avoid Processed & Refined Foods like Sugar & Flour. Choose whole grains in order to consumer fewer calories and keep your blood sugar levels stable. Even flours made from whole grains, while slightly more nutritious, can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes over time. And artificial sweeteners are even worse than real sugar. If you have a sweet tooth, reach for whole fruits, dried fruits, or - if you must - natural sweeteners that are minimally processed (think: honey, maple syrup, or blackstrap molasses).
- Drink Lots of Water. Lots! The solution to pollution is diution. At least 64 oz a day. This will help your liver and kidneys filter out toxins even when you're not cleansing. Get a water bottle, fill it up in the morning, and sip away.
- Cook with Saturated Fats. Butter, lard or coconut oil. Use olive oil for everything else, but don't heat it. Here's why.
- Relax! Stress raises a hormone called cortisol, produced by our adrenal glands. Cortisol can cause weight gain. Taking a few minutes everyday to consciously relax and breathe deeply can help bring cortisol levels back to normal.
- Exercise. People with more muscle burn more calories, even at rest. And, since muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue does, building lean muscle mass is a key factor in any weight loss plan. Do something - anything - to build lean muscle mass daily. 10 push-ups, taking the stairs. Make it easy, fun and just do it.
- Keep a Food Journal. Pay attention to what, when and how much you eat. In one study, women who kept a food journal lost 6 pounds more than those who didn't.
- Sleep! Getting enough good-quality sleep is essential for weight loss. In addition, adequate sleep it crucial to stress reduction.
As you can see, it's not just what you eat that impacts your health and weight. Various nutrition and lifestyle factors influence well-being. A holistic approach can help you continue your journey towards good health even after making changes to your diet.
- Emily Wade Adams, author of Natal Nutrition