Hello SOTGC community,
This is the second part in how to eat healthy when you have a hectic schedule. Here are the tips I give my patients when they want to lose weight, create and maintain healthy eating habits, and improve their overall wellness.
- ‘Eat the rainbow:’ Pick fresh fruits and vegetables that represent the colors of the rainbow. The pigment contains phytonutrients, essential in supporting the body for a variety of functions beyond fat metabolism. While 8-9 daily servings of fruits and vegetables is recommended, this can be a challenge for some to achieve. I often approach this goal by starting my morning with a smoothie, adding 5-6 servings of fruits and leafy greens along with my protein source and a dash of cinnamon. Cinnamon is a favorite of mine as it aids in sugar metabolism by helping fat cells respond to glucose effectively by improving insulin sensitivity.
- Create a healthy lean protein regimen to your weekly diet whether it be lean, hormone free, antibiotic free meat, fresh or frozen fish, soy, or legumes. Complete whole grains such as quinoa also serve as a healthy protein source (except for those with a whole grain food allergy). Protein gives our body the building blocks called amino acids to build muscle and maintain cell function/regeneration. Healthy muscle mass is important for signaling effective fat metabolism. When we deplete our protein intake or lose our own existing muscle mass, the number on the scale may appeal to us as muscle weighs more than fat, but in reality we end up moving away from the ultimate goal of efficient fat metabolism.
- Implement a plan for healthy snacks. Healthy options include yogurt, dried unsulfured fruits, and fresh fruit that can be easily tucked into a purse. These days, gluten free, non-GMO, low glycemic options with good protein sources are prepackaged and ready to go. I often keep nut bars loaded with healthy fats such as almonds, pecans, walnuts, chia seeds and other healthy fiber sources along with dried fruits for their antioxidants in my purse. The healthy fats from the nuts and fiber from the chia seeds not only provide healthy fuel for the body, but also support healthy digestion, while the antioxidants from fruit assists in controlling inflammation arising from any processed foods that sneak into my routine.
- Eliminate foods that trigger allergic reactions. An elimination diet is an easy way to identify whether one is reacting to a food and triggering undetected inflammation affecting fat metabolism. A common elimination diet strategy is to eliminate for 21 days the particular food group such as gluten, dairy, or soy. On day 22, slowly reintroduce the food group. Track symptoms in a diary such as bloating, headache, rashes, and fatigue. Functional lab testing can also test expanded food/spice panels to identify additional culprits. Believe it or not, one can be allergic to even the ‘superfoods’ such as kale and blueberries. Food allergies, even when subtle, trigger the inflammation cascade, which ultimately impacts how efficiently the body metabolizes fat and handles water shifts, both contributing to the number on the scale.
The key I have found to creating a healthy regimen around food and fat loss is having a plan. Planning how, when, what, and where we eat is essential to implementing a lifestyle medicine approach to food and fat loss. Whether it is mindfully making the grocery list, or planning a weekend outing to the farmer’s market, planning is the secret. As part of the plan, expect to get sidetracked from our intention. As with anything in life, we need to allow for those unexpected situations. Rather than wasting energy obsessing about the number on the scale, or the number of pizza slices ingested at the birthday event the night prior, these situations simply become an exercise to release, self-forgive, and practice non-judgment, followed by a simple re-commitment to our health goal. Along the way, we learn what works for our lifestyle, we make small changes to support ourselves, and we learn from all of our food experiences. We stay true to a food plan that is enjoyable and natural to follow, allowing us to achieve our ideal weight with ease and grace.
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