I love the New Year. There is something quite satisfying about allowing yourself to indulge over the holidays and then begin anew once the New Year arrives. Unfortunately, for the vast majority of people intent on improving their health, diets just don’t seem to work. If you want to lose weight, gain energy and just feel better, then stop dieting and start following some basic guidelines about the food you eat.
There are countless dietary theories out there promising to help you shed pounds and increase energy. Much of this advice is confusing and contradictory. How can both a high carbohydrate vegan diet and a high protein paleo diet help me lose weight? Actually, the answer to this question is not very complicated. When you stop eating all the junk so typical in the American diet you will feel better and lose weight.
Although diets can help people in the short term the real benefit is lost unless the changes are sustainable. Diets can be difficult to sustain because people are so unique from one another. One person’s food may be another person’s poison. For example, although there are many passionate advocates for eating a strict vegan diet (and for good reason), there are just as many people who simply feel better when they have some animal protein. This contradiction makes dieting confusing and discouraging.
The good news is you are not powerless. There is no reason to allow all this conflicting information to cloud your common sense. Weight lose, energy gain and overall good health is available when we decide to make some straightforward lifestyle changes. Here are some guidelines we should all embrace as we move away from dieting and towards sustained health.
1. Drink plenty of water. Drinking 7 to 8 glasses of water per day is a pretty good guideline for most people. This simple piece of advice is the easiest way for most people to feel better and lose weight today.
2. Stop counting calories and start nourishing your body. Regardless of what you have been told, all calories are not created equal. 200 calories of Oreo Cookies are not the same as 200 calories of kale. When you eat more real, whole foods you can stop worrying about the calories.
3. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables, and particularly green leafy vegetables, contain micronutrients and antioxidants that will strengthen your immune system and protect you from disease. So, embrace the wide array of fruits and vegetables available and improve your health immediately.
4. Eat real carbohydrates. Replace refined and processed carbs (sugars, white flour) with complex, whole carbs (fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes). Excessive sugars and simple carbs are the number one contributor to weight gain and a myriad of related health problems in the American diet.
5. Eat healthy fats. Contrary to what we have been told for the last 30 plus years, fat is an important part of a healthy diet. Healthy fats are contained in nuts, seeds, olive oil, fish and wild or pasture-fed animals. Avoid trans-fats found in some processed and fast foods at all cost.
6. Eat breakfast and eat regularly. Eating regularly keeps your blood sugar and hunger under control.
7. Get cooking! The more you cook the more you control the volume and quality of food you consume (not to mention saving money).
We have a tendency to get overwhelmed by nutrition information. The most important take home message is to eat real, whole foods. The food you eat should look pretty close to how it looked when it was grown. As food journalist Michael Pollan says in his In Defense of Food, "don't eat anything your Great-Grandma wouldn't recognize as food."
I wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year!
As an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach I will guide you in finding the food and lifestyle choices that best support you. I am currently taking clients and would love to speak with you about your health. Contact me today for a free, one hour consultation.