Have you ever noticed just how much nutrition and health information there is out there?!?! Blogs, television shows, magazines, books, you name it – someone has something to say on this topic (including me, obviously)! What irks me the most is that many of these ‘fads’ claim to be the next revelation but they’re really just making you do more calculations and follow crazy (aka unattainable) new exercise routines. But you know what? Following these strict protocols is really NOT the way to sustain a healthy weight and happy mind because you probably are not an exact replica of the person who came up with that program! Every person is unique so every person has unique needs.
That being said, there are some tried-and-true tips that DO work for everyone. Sure, if you follow someone else’s program to a “T”, you’ll have some success, but it’s likely going to be tough to maintain that success long-term. Instead, you need to figure out what works for you (which is where I come in, as your nutrition and fitness consultant!).
Now, a lot of people, my clients included, want to lose weight. And you’ve probably heard that losing weight and keeping it off is about how MUCH you eat, right? Well, this is partially true but it’s certainly not the whole story. What actually helps you achieve a healthy weight and stick it, along with any healthy initiative you choose, is WHAT and HOW you eat and drink, along with some other key components like exercise and hormonal balance.
What you eat plays a role in how well your body can maintain a healthy weight. What you eat affects your blood sugar, your liver, your hormones, your immune system, and your gut; and, as you should know by now if you’ve been following my blogs, when any of these systems are out of whack, your weight can suffer.
There is nothing wrong with counting calories if you’re looking to lose weight but don’t make this your only focus. WHAT you eat is highly important, more so than the amount of food you eat. In fact, I like to tell my clients to focus on a wide range of healthy foods and eat as much as they want…the caveat here is that when your body is fully nourished, you don’t get hungry as often, cravings disappear and you lose weight.
Here is what you should be eating every day if you want to achieve your perfect happy weight:
- A colorful array of fruits and vegetables, with 1-2 per meal or snack. The colors to look for are green, red, orange, yellow, purple and white. Each color contains a nutrient powerhouse so neglecting one category can put you in a nutrient-deficient state, which is what leads to overeating.
- Adequate protein, roughly 0.8 – 1.2 g per kilogram of body weight (the more active you are, the more protein you’ll need). Choose lean animal and/or vegetable sources of protein. And remember that protein takes more energy to breakdown than either fats or carbs so you’ll be burning more calories through digestion.
- Healthy fats and oils. Your hormones and brain are two major consumers of these healthy, essential fats, so never, ever skimp on these! Choose extra virgin olive oil, cold-pressed flaxseed oil, organic egg yolks, coconut oil, raw nuts and seeds, and all-natural nut butters. Eat these fats with your vegetables because your body needs the fats to help breakdown and absorb the nutrients from these foods.
HOW you eat and drink also influence how well your body assimilates your food and manages weight. One of the biggest tips I can give you is to eat mindfully – never rush your meals and try to avoid distractions. Not only is this form of eating super satisfying (you can literally savour each and every bite), but you’ll be more aware of your satiety signals and eat less food.
Another tip is to chew every bite carefully because the more broken down the food is before it reaches your stomach, the higher the chances of your body being able to use the nutrients from it. Avoid drinking too much liquid with meals because this dilutes stomach acid and the lower your stomach acid, the less food is broken down.
If you like to drink your food (aka smoothies and juices), make sure you’re having them as part of a healthy, whole foods daily diet – smoothies and juices are great sources of nutrients but they often lack protein and essential fats needed for a complete diet. Drinking too much of your food can actually lead to weight gain and sluggishness too.