It’s that time of year when everyone is focused on their waist lines—especially after indulging in holiday feasts. The good news is that you don’t have to turn to dieting for a solution to weight loss. In fact, you can do it without starvation and on a budget; the trick is to eat well.
However, before we can appreciate eating well, let’s discuss the prevalent reasons why people don’t. Diets are a major culprit and usually do not work. According to Traci Mann, who teaches psychology at the University of Minnesota and has been studying eating habits, self-control and dieting for more than 20 years, “Dieting is actually a lot like starving, physically. It’s putting the body into that exact same state that it would be in if [one] were literally starving to death.”
It’s eye-opening to think of dieting in this way. Even more so, Mann shares with the Washington Post, the three physiological reasons why diets become physically impossible to sustain over long periods. First, there is the neurological response where our brain becomes overly responsive to food and it therefore becomes harder to resist. Second, hormonal changes occur as your body loses -. For example, the hormones that help you feel satisfied after eating decrease so that one begins to feel hungry on the same portions that use to fill them. Lastly, there are metabolic changes. If the body believes it’s starving, then it begins to run on fewer calories and store the increased leftover calories as fat.
Eating well is quite the opposite of starving. It’s about providing your body with clean energy that is free from the toxins that trick your brain into over-consuming. Eating well is about intaking nutrient-rich food that allows your body to properly operate. I created a cool mnemonic, WELL, that captures my best advice for healthy eating for weight loss.
- W is for whole foods. Ensure that you eat whole foods and not processed ones. There are foods that have been processed mechanically, like peanuts for example, which are grounded to create peanut butter. However, by my definition, foods that still preserve their nutritious integrity are still whole. Then there are those foods that are processed chemically and they are the ones “made solely from refined ingredients and artificial substances, and are what is generally known as processed food.” These foods are also high in sugars and preservatives and are designed to encourage addictive eating behaviors. You can tell the difference by reading your food’s ingredient labels.
- E is for eliminate refined sugars. Refined sugar is typically known as added and processed sugar. According to livestrong.com, “This kind of sugar in particular, is considered poor for your health because it lacks nutrients and minerals and causes weight gain.” Also, because of the demands it puts on your digestive system, it is believed to actually drain the body of nutrients. If you struggle with sugar intake, you are not alone as it is a wide-spread problem that we deal with, particularly in the United States. The USDA recommends only 8 teaspoons (32 grams) of added sugar per day, whereas the average American eats approximately 53 teaspoons (212 grams). Urban Remedy explains that, “It is loaded into the majority of processed foods, where it lurks in even the most unsuspecting places—breads, sauces, salad dressings, even frozen fruit.” If you want more information on the sugar epidemic and its impact then check out my Screw the Sugar Challenge , participate and learn how to slowly remove refined sugar from your meals.
- L is for lean proteins. Proteins are an important element of every cell and are the building blocks for muscles, organs, skin and blood. They are also used to repair the body and create enzymes, hormones and other body chemicals, according to WebMD. They help to provide the body with healthy doses of vitamins and minerals including Zinc, Calcium, Iron and Vitamin D, to name a few. There are a variety of lean proteins that can be consumed by vegetarians, carnivores and a host of other variety of eaters. For example, proteins include oats, broccoli, chicken breasts, almonds, fish and quinoa, lean beef and tofu.
- L is for learn about healthy carbohydrates. Carbohydrates have gotten a bad reputation over the years but in fact, they are key sources of energy. It’s important to identify healthy carbohydrates and to eliminate or reduce your consumption of unhealthy ones. Everyday Health indicates that the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines for Americans lists the best carbohydrates are those that contain a lot of fiber, like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. They take longer to break down into glucose and give you the most nutrients along with calories unlike refined carbohydrates that have been processed to remove parts of the grain and have sugar added, like white bread or cookies. For weight loss, Everyday Health experts advise that you “Choose foods with few or no grams of sugar. Foods high in fiber are best because they provide optimal nutrition while giving a sense of fullness.”
Your body is a magnificent and well-designed machine that needs clean fuel to run properly.
Losing weight doesn’t have to be a losing battle—you can bring your body into balance while eating WELL and to contentment.
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