The Top 10 Dietary and Lifestyle Tools 2010
It is now mid March and more than likely our January resolutions have been forgotten. But let’s not be discouraged because there are still ten months left in 2010. What if we started again, this time with a specific road map that would help us chart our course toward better health and weight loss?
Remember, it takes one month to create a new habit so I suggest going slowly because change takes time. This journey will be more successful if you apply the navigational tools that I recommend, one each month, leading you to a healthier new you.
1. Eat Whole Food – This is food that is nature made. It is food that your great grandmother would recognize. It is food that will rot. When we eat whole food we are less hungry because our body is truly nourished. The nutrients found in whole food are greater than the sum of their parts. You will find whole food mostly in the perimeter of the grocery store. Also, consider having a small back yard garden and support local farmer’s in the growing season. This is fresh, whole food at its best.
2. Eat to Balance Whole food and “Soul “Food – What are “soul” foods? These are the foods that comfort us and connect us during holidays and celebrations. But unfortunately “soul” foods are not the most nourishing and sustaining. Strive to balance your proportion of whole foods and “soul” foods to a 85% whole food and 15% soul food ratio. This ratio is important because it will allow for a better blood sugar balance which will keep us from developing insulin resistance.
3. Consume Healthy Fats – Fats are critical to our overall health. We have been fed a very dangerous message that all fat is all bad all the time. Consume small amounts of natural fats that are saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated for a balanced fat intake. This means including butter, coconut oil, and essential fats such as omega 3’s into your diet every day. Omega fats can be found in cold water fish and flaxseeds. If you do not regularly eat these foods, I recommend supplementing with essential fatty acids. Some fats should be avoided; those include all partially hydrogenated fats and Trans fatty acids. This includes all fried foods. These fats oxidized thus they are classified as damaged fats. Remember that natural fats are protective and supportive to our health and are key in regulating our weight.
4. Water Yourself Often – Our bodies are 60-70% water, yet 75% of all Americans are chronically dehydrated. Every function of the body is monitored and regulated by the efficient flow of water. Water suppresses the appetite and helps the body metabolize stored fat. On average, we need approximately ½ of our body weight in ounces each day. Coffee, soda, fruit juices and alcohol do not count as water.
5. Exercise – Our bodies are designed to move. Over the past fifty years, additional labor saving devices as well as technology have lead us in the direction of sedentary lives. Hypo-kinetic diseases are the result of low levels of activity. In order to accomplish the basic requirements for daily physical activity we should participate in 30 minutes of activity that will raise our heart rate to 50-90% of its maximum capacity. Both resistance and cardio activity should be included in this time period.
6. Eliminate Toxins- Our personal hygiene and cleaning supplies are saturated with harmful chemicals. Although our bodies are well equipped to eliminate toxins and metabolic wastes through the skin, kidneys, liver and colon, when the toxic load is too much our liver becomes burdened. When the liver is overworked, our body resorts to using fat to insulate the excess toxins so they do not damage critical tissue. We can support our liver by eliminating artificial sweeteners, choosing organic foods, use more natural personal hygiene and cleaning products and drinking a fresh lemon juice and water cocktail everyday.
7. Let the Sun Shine – The sun’s ultra violet B rays work with our skin to produce Vitamin D. Current research links Vitamin D deficiency to insulin resistance, obesity, certain cancers, osteoporosis, heart disease and depression. Dietary Recommended Intakes of 400 IU’s are considered to be much too low. Living in central Pennsylvania, it is beneficial for most of us to allow our bodies to have sun exposure for approximately 5-20 minutes without sun screen each day during the months of May through September. Supplementation with Vitamin D3 is recommended for the remaining months. I recommend having your blood levels of vitamin D tested before supplementing to allow for individual variation.
8. Get a Good Night’s Sleep – There is a huge relationship between sleep and a healthy weight. Lack of sleep is now considered a risk factor in obesity. For most of us, sleeping less than seven hours each night in a totally dark room sets us up for hormonal imbalances that are linked to increased hunger and appetite. When we are sleep deprived levels of a hormone called leptin are reduced. It is the job of leptin to tell our brain we are full following a meal.
9. Recognize and Reduce Stress- To support a healthy weight it is critical to recognize when we are stressed and learn coping methods. During the stress response we release two hormones, adrenalin and cortisol. Adrenalin gives us instant energy and decreases our appetites but its effects do not last very long. Cortisol, on the other hand, works on a different timetable. Its effects can remain elevated long after the stress has passed. The job of cortisol is to replenish us so it works to increase our appetite. While this system worked for our ancestors who had to physically flee from their stressors, today we tend to internalize our concerns and reach for a donut which results in stored visceral fat around our midsection.
10. Reinstate the Family Meal –The family meal is a fusion of our need for love and connection and our need for food. Gathering together each day gives family members an opportunity to share their wit and wisdom, it is a time to confess, forgive and repair. Studies show that families that eat together at home eat more healthfully, consume more fruits and vegetables and less fast food and soda. The family meal is about nourishment of all kinds. It is a very special time when we are feed not only by the food but by each other’s company. Return to cooking “for real” and become a leader in shaping your family’s eating habits.
Blessings to you on your journey,
Sue Burns MS NC
Coming soon... MyNourishingJourney.com