1. Start your day with citrus. A cup of warm water with a half of an organic lemon first thing in the morning has been proven to accelerate your metabolism and reduce bloating. Lemon is a natural diuretic that cleanses the digestive system and gets your metabolic rate firing first thing.
2. Eat all food groups together. All foods belong to at least one of the three macronutrient categories; protein, carbohydrates and fat. Most weight gain occurs when our blood sugar is slightly high causing an increase in cortisol. Cortisol is dubbed as the stress hormone and increases the amount of fat deposits-particularly in the abdomen. If you eat small portions of protein, carbs and fat together, studies show there is a blunt in the insulin response, therefore reducing blood sugar spikes. The key is to avoid eating carbohydrates alone.
Example: Always eat a few raw almonds with your fruit. You will stay satiated longer and your blood sugar will stay in control.
3. Stay natural. If the food has a longer shelf life than you, chances are you shouldn’t eat it. While it is difficult in today’s fast-paced lifestyle of grab-and-go, try to steer towards foods that are found in nature. Emulsifiers, for example, are proven to negatively impact gut health and increase weight. Use avocado instead of mayonnaise and make your own olive-oil salad dressing.
4. Eat Organic. Yes, organic food can be pricy but if you buy foods that are in season, the cost will be significantly less. Certain chemicals, pesticides and hormones (found in meat, fish and dairy), have been proven to be a hormone disrupter causing weight gain, fatigue and exercise intolerance.
5. Choose your carbs wisely. Not all carbohydrates are created equal. Opt for carbohydrates that are low-glycemic and contain natural fiber. Stick with organic fruit, sweet potatoes, yams, quinoa, steel-cut oatmeal and 7-grain bread. Yes, you can still enjoy a slice of bread! Ezekiel bread is perhaps the healthiest option that you can find in a commercial supermarket. Not only is it organic, but it is sprouted which increases the amount of nutrients.
6. Don’t over-exercise. Yes, you read that correctly. Over-exercising increases insomnia which slows down your metabolism and reduces overall energy the next day. It also increases the amount of cortisol produced which increases fat production. Another negative impact is the breakdown in muscle fiber. Too much exercise places our body in a catabolic state which eats away at our muscle fiber. An overall decrease in muscle decreases our metabolism and the number of calories we burn at rest.
7. Reduce your stress. It is a fact that you cannot lose body-fat if you are stressed. While you can lose muscle by undereating, fat will remain as a protective covering. It is essential to find activities or rituals that allow you to decompress. What works for others might not work for you. Whether it is yoga, reading, meditation or a high-impact boxing class, it is important to find your balance and maintain control of life’s stressors.
8. Read restaurant menus in advance. When dining out, look at the menu before you go. Scanning the menu prior allows you to formulate a healthy plan, make solid decisions before you’re too hungry or influenced by what others are eating. Make the commitment to stick to your plan and order first. Scan the menu and look for a protein that is grilled or baked. Watch out for heavy dairy based sauces and ask for it on the side or not at all.
9. Don’t diet. It is not a diet, it is a lifestyle. “Diet” is just another four-letter word that has a beginning, middle and an end. Making healthy choices needs to be a lifestyle that contains balance. Take the painful word “Diet” out of your vocabulary and focus on making the best of each day to improve your long-term health.
10. Practice Self-love. Why? Because self-love is the best love! It is normal and human to falter and fall off-track when making healthy lifestyle decisions. Practicing positive affirmations and focusing on what you love about yourself has been shown to improve overall energy and increase endorphins.