ALIVE & FIT MAGAZINE Vol.13 Issue 51 Winter 2019: Live the Diet-Free Dream

Diet, a simple four-letter word evoking so much negativity for the majority of people. Webster’s Dictionary defines diet as, “the kind of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.” Innocent enough. The second definition of diet, “a special course of food to which one restricts oneself, either to lose weight or for medical reasons”, may be problematic. Keeping in mind, holistic eating would also be a type of “diet”. A healthy or holistic diet should be simply labeled, a smart lifestyle.

Food is fuel. Hunger is healthy. Fueling our tank positively is key to avoiding weight-issues. Long-term struggles often result in riding the merry-go-round of trendy diets. A sudden change in caloric intake or extreme exercise all work in the short term. Losing weight is rarely the issue, but rather keeping lost pounds off for the long-haul.  Instead of following a step- by-step stringent calorie counting plan, focus on living in balance, by making premiere possible choices whenever and wherever. Live the diet-free dream. 

Your body requires food for essential nutrients and energy. Meals and snacks support or sabotage goals. Wouldn’t it be fabulous to ignore the number on the scale, while improving health and reducing your risk of disease?

Eating nutritionally  low value cuisine leads to malnutrition. It’s completely plausible to be starving while the scale says overweight! In other words, start feeding cells with a myriad of minerals, vitamins and phyto-nutrients, and watch your body find balance once and for all.

Big nutrients equal bigger success, long term. Macronutrient is the technical term for carbohydrates, proteins and fats. All three magnificent macros plus water are part of healthy menu-planning.

CARBOHYDRATES:

Carbohydrates have been given a bad rap over the years, but in reality, it’s the kind of carbs chosen which sabotage or set us up for success. Good carbs equal energy and bad carbs result in exhaustion. There are three main types of carbohydrates. Sugar is the simplest form of carbohydrates, but completely unnecessary as an add-on. Man doesn’t require sugar to survive. It’s readily found in produce, milk and milk products. Say yes to fruits and vegetables and good-bye to even one spoonful of sugar. Honey, coconut sugar and maple syrup are all nature’s candy, but wreck weight-loss goals. Riding the rollercoaster of sugar, is a dieter’s downfall. Why? In a nutshell, eating sugar results in the pancreas secreting insulin, which regulates your blood sugar by transporting the sugar out of your blood and into your cells. Eating a lot of sugar results in our pancreas working overtime. The body must match the sugar with insulin. Excess sugar consumption, leads to elevated insulin, resulting in insulin resistance. Now, cells are less responsive, forcing the pancreas to pump out more and more insulin. Eventually the body is exhausted,  resulting in type-2 diabetes. It’s simple. Sugar is addictive. It’s time to clear out cupboards. It only takes a few days to crush cravings once and for all.

Starch is considered a complex carbohydrate, many sugar units bonded together. Starch occurs naturally in grains, legumes and veggie favorites such as cooked carrots, peas, squash and potatoes. The starch found in plant-based foods before  processing to packaging is perfect.

Finally, last but not least is fiber, also a complex carbohydrate. Focusing on foods high in fiber is key to long-term weight control. Fiber is your friend, reducing binge eating by balancing insulin levels. An apple contains natural occurring sugar, but the fiber content slows the absorption of sugar, requiring less insulin to be secreted. Fiber helps prevent mood swings associated with eating sugar. Fiber promotes fullness and aids weight-loss by helping raise metabolism. Fiber even helps eliminate constipation by speeding up transit time. Fiber is divided into soluble and in-soluble, both being beneficial. Cover all fiber intake bases. Load up on leafy greens, celery, raw nuts, chia seeds, ground flax and psyllium husks. Skip counting calories, but totally tally up, aiming for 35 grams of fiber daily.

Protein is the building block of our cells. It’s tied to thyroid health; the beautiful butterfly shaped organ directly connected to the rate at which we burn calories, referred to as metabolism. Optimal thyroid function helps us lose and maintain weight. Protein also curbs cravings and prevents water retention. Protein is made of essential and non-essential amino acids.  Eggs and turkey are both high in tyrosine, a key amino acid, supporting thyroid health. Shellfish, powerhouse of protein, plus trace mineral selenium and a natural source of iodine both boost the thyroid. Seaweed, a plant-based protein superfood, is high in tyrosine and iodine, both tied to tip-top thyroid function.  There are varying opinions on the amount of protein required daily. A good guideline is aiming for half your weight in grams. Incorporating many sources of protein helps ensure all amino acids are on the menu.

Fats don’t make us fat, but the kind of fats we choose either help or hurt us. Menus built around the wrong fats; canola, soy, corn, peanut, vegetable and cottonseed oil plus the bevy of butter replacements available, all raise inflammation in the body. Avoid at all costs.  Essential fatty acids (EFA’s) are lipids the body can’t synthesize. Omega-3 and Omega- six are lacking in most of the population’s diet. We require healthy fats to speed up metabolism, boost weight loss, but good fats are first-rate at regulating the action of insulin in the body, therefore helping with weight management. Preventing type-2 diabetes is paramount. Add unrefined cold-pressed coconut oil for top-notch thyroid support. Fish oils are a great source of Omega-3. Cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines are an amazing source of protein, offering protection against various heart and vascular conditions plus boost brain function. It’s also possible to power up with plant-based EFA’s. Chia pudding is a great breakfast option.  Hemp is a stellar salad sprinkle while walnuts are a wow factor on yogurt. Pumpkin seeds are protein, plus first-rate fats.  Tahini is a tremendous side-kick to veggies, also boasting brilliant bone building calcium.

Menu-planning and snack prep put you in the driver seat, but here are a few tricks of the trade.

All the food you eat tells a story. Optimal digestion is important for breaking down food into useable nutrients. Satisfied cells seek nothing. Everything we eat and drink must be converted into smaller molecules of nutrients before the blood can absorb and transport to cells. Are you bloated? Gassy? Constipated? Peek at your poop. Size, color, consistency and amount all tell a story. Taking the “beet test” may explain your digestion dilemma.  Simply steam a few beets, eat and wait for the magic to happen. Ideally, your bowel movement is emitting pink 18to 36 hours after ingesting. This translates into transit time. If you are sluggish, increase water and fiber. Google the Bristol Stool Chart, and discover what your poop portrays! While we’re still on potty talk, urine should be straw colored and never smell. Some vitamins, such as the B family lead to neon urine, but as a rule, straw-color says well-hydrated. Water is life. Go away on vacation and ignore your plants. Upon return, your sad shriveled fern is a fantastic self-reminder to drink at least 30 ml per kg bodyweight daily. One should never be thirsty. Thirst equals dehydration. Avoid caffeine, instead choose green tea for a poly-phenol pick-me-up with weight-loss benefits!

Back to boosting digestion. One teaspoon of unpasteurized apple cider vinegar in an ounce water before meals works wonders. Happy gut, happy life.

Never skip salt. Salt is essential to life. Salt is part of hydrochloric acid, absolutely required to break down food, feed cells and fuel our body.  An active lifestyle makes losing and maintaining weight easier. Sweating is the name of the game, so go ahead and shake Himalayan pink salt on steamed veggies. Salt, a key electrolyte is often avoided, especially by those with high blood pressure, but not necessary. Yes, it’s time to toss table salt, but all of us still need real salt for cell-to-cell communication, bone formation, reproduction and transmission of nerve impulses.

Sprinkle salt and say good-bye to sugar cravings.

It’s impossible to talk about losing weight or  overall wellness without mentioning exercise. A key link to longevity, exercise is mood-enhancing. Fitness is fabulous, helping build and maintain strength, endurance, flexibility and mobility as we age. Anyone can improve their health inside and out. No excuses or fancy gym required. Walking outside, taking the stairs and jumping-jacks are all free. The best full-body, low impact, high-calorie-burning exercise can be done in four-by-six-foot area. Skipping isn’t just for grade school girls. It’s a long list of out-of-this-world body bolstering benefits.

It’s never easy to make a change, simplicity and consistency are key. Eating real foods, drinking water, moving your body with a side of good sleep and minimal stress are all key to a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Back to the basics should be your game plan. Just remember, every choice today paves your future health status. Make great choices….one meal at a time.

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