What is good nutrition? I explained in my last post the basics of nutrition and revealed some nutrition myths. But truthfully, in most cases we know what good nutrition is intuitively. We know that a box of macaroni and cheese isn’t as nutritious as steamed broccoli. We know that a glass of water is better for us than a sugary coffee drink. But sometimes the choices aren’t always that obvious are they? For example, what’s better; a donut or a muffin?
Neither is ideal, however many would say that the donut is better because it has less sugar, fat, and even calories than the muffin.
For the sake of continuity and clarity let’s define nutrition as the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth… and in this particular case, for weight loss. On that note, let’s now explore the various aspects of good nutrition as they specifically help you lose weight.
You hear it from doctors, nutritionists, and maybe even your mom. You need fiber in your diet. There are actually two types of fiber, and both are important – but in different ways.
Soluble fiber – this type of fiber can be broken down in water. It actually attracts water and forms a gel-like material in your stomach. Imagine eating a teaspoon of soluble fiber. It attracts and absorbs water and that teaspoon grows to about a quarter cup.
As you might imagine, that teaspoon of fiber creates a reaction that fills you up. Soluble fiber makes you feel full. This is how it helps you lose weight. You feel fuller, eat less, and consume fewer calories.
Insoluble fiber – this fiber is not broken down in your body. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water, which means it passes through your gastrointestinal tract relatively intact. This has the effect of bulldozing the passage of food and waste through your gut. You see, if food is allowed to sit in your gut it begins to attract bacteria. They feed on this stagnant material and guess what…you start to feel bloated. You’ll also likely begin to feel lethargic as the bacteria multiply and begin to cause problems.
Insoluble fiber helps you lose weight because it keeps your digestive system running smoothly. It helps keep the balance of good bacteria in your stomach at optimal levels, and it reduces bloat and often increases your energy and sense of well-being.
So where do you find soluble and insoluble fiber?
As you might suspect, they come in the form of grains, fruits and vegetables. Here are a few food sources for both:
Sources of soluble fiber include:
Sources of insoluble fiber include:
• Whole wheat
• Whole grains
• Wheat bran
• Brown rice
• Green beans
• Dark leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and collard greens
Start eating whole grains, more fruits and veggies and not only will the weight begin to come off, you’ll feel better too. You may also consider a fiber supplement, like Skinny Fiber, which contains Glucomannan – a soluble fiber. It also contains digestive enzymes and other all natural ingredients that assist in reducing appetite and cravings.
Your body responds to toxins, poisons, viruses, injury, and invaders through inflammation. It’s a process that actually strives to bring more nourishment and immune activity to a site of injury or infection – wherever that infection may be. If you sprain your ankle, your ankle will swell in a protective response. When your cells are irritated the same thing happens.
Biologically this is usually a good response. Unfortunately, there are many things in our modern diet that cause chronic inflammation. They’re perceived by our bodies as toxins and poisons. The result is a state of chronic inflammation, which has been shown to lead to the majority of deadly diseases we’re dealing with today. These diseases include heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancer and much more. It also causes obesity.
Reduce, or eliminate, these inflammatory foods and you’ll not only reduce your risk of these serious diseases, you’ll lose weight. So what are the foods you should eat?
Let’s first take a look at the primary foods that cause inflammation:
• Sugar – Any type of sugar causes inflammation. Cane sugar isn’t better than high fructose corn syrup here. Sugar causes inflammation.
• White flour – Your body treats white flour and starchy carbohydrates much like sugar. It’s processed quickly, causes a spike in blood sugar and leads to inflammation.
• Trans fats – Trans fats are the bad fats found in cakes, pastries, margarine, and shortening, among other foods. Avoid them completely.
So what can you eat that will reduce inflammation?
You already know this – look at your food pyramid. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats are all okay. Other things like green tea, fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and nuts all help reduce inflammation and help you lose weight.
Your metabolism is the process that provides energy to your cells. It powers every thought, action, and movement you make. Your body needs energy to survive and thrive. When you provide it with nutritious foods that fuel your body, it can run smoothly like a car with the optimal grade of fuel in it. However, when you fuel your body in an unhealthy manner, your body has to fight and struggle to extract nutrients from that food and to battle any negative response. You may generate a little energy from junk food, but it comes at a great cost. However, with nutritious foods you generate energy only – no extra cost to your body. Thus, you can eat less and feel better. You’ll lose weight.
Some foods are known for boosting your metabolism. They include:
• Lean protein – fish is particularly good for your metabolism and it has healthy Omega-3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation.
• Green tea – full of anti-oxidants and a small bit of caffeine. It has been shown to increase metabolism and reduce risks of certain cancers.
• Broccoli, grapefruit, and high fiber foods including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. You may see a trend here – fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are some easy foods to focus on. Replace some of your unhealthy foods with vegetables and fruits and you’re on the right path.
Steady Blood Sugar Levels
The food you eat has an impact on your blood sugar. For example, place a bit of sugar in your mouth and you might notice that it begins dissolving and digesting almost immediately. Foods that have a high glycemic level are digested quickly and cause a spike in your blood sugar levels. This isn’t a big problem if it only happens occasionally.
However, the modern diet causes your blood sugar to spike multiple times every day. Each time you eat a sugary, starchy snack you’re causing your blood sugar to spike. Unfortunately, what goes up must come down, including your blood sugar. This leaves you feeling exhausted and craving foods that will give you another quick blood sugar spike. All of this up and down is hard on your body.
You’re not only eating more food than your body needs, and thus storing fat, you’re also causing your insulin system to become resistant. This means that it stops hearing the signals from your body and it takes more and higher glycemic foods to give you the energy you need.
Foods that are high in sugar and starchy carbohydrates are the biggest offenders, meaning they cause the highest blood sugar spikes.
• French fries
• Sugary drinks
• White rice
• White potatoes
So what can you have? You might already know the answer to this question based on the trends in the previous guidelines. Yep, you guessed it; fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Low glycemic foods stabilize blood sugar and include:
• Green beans
• Sweet potatoes
• Nuts and seeds
• Beans and lentils
Many experts also recommend dairy and/or soy products as low glycemic options. Take care if you have allergies or sensitivities to dairy or soy – many people find that they have issues with these foods, which can then cause inflammation.
So now you have a solid understanding of how nutrition can impact your health and your weight. However, at this point you may still feel overwhelmed. The remainder of this report is dedicated to helping you not only create a plan to overhaul your diet and change your live but to guide you on how to make those changes as easy and painless as possible.
Make Small Changes – Reap Big Results
Deciding to eat healthier is the first step to losing weight and keeping it off for the rest of your life. If you’ve made that decision then you’re halfway there. The second step is to commit to changing your habits, one at a time.
Sure, it’s tempting to want to make a huge change. Unfortunately, few can make that kind of life overhaul stick for the long term. Instead, it’s much easier to tackle one habit at a time. It’s also more powerful. You can systematically identify the nutritional and food challenges you personally face and create a lifestyle that fits your needs. Many “diets” are created with a “one size fits all” approach. The problem is that you have a unique body with its own systems and sensitivities.
For example, gluten may cause you to have some stomach issues, but you may not know that until you begin to change how you eat. You may realize that the carbs you can eat need to be very different from the carbs that the FDA recommends.
Let’s take a look at the process of changing your life, one habit at a time, and adopting a healthier and more nutritious lifestyle for lasting weight loss.
The Power of Changing Your Habits
First, take a deep breath and relax. Good nutrition isn’t a “diet.” It’s not about going on some highly regimented plan for a few months and hoping for the best. Rather, you’re changing your lifestyle for lasting health and sustained weight loss. Here’s how:
Step One: Identify Poor Nutrition Habits
There’s no room for shame here. Sit down, be honest with yourself and start listing the dietary and nutrition habits you need to change. Let’s step back to that food pyramid for a second.
• How many fruits and vegetables do you eat each day?
• Do you eat breakfast and if so, what do you eat?
• Do you drink your calories (e.g., soda, juice and sugary coffee drinks or sports drinks)?
• What do you snack on?
• Do you eat whole grains?
• Do you eat processed foods?
• How much fat and sugar do you eat daily?
Start making a list of the habits you want to change. Prioritize the list. What’s the first habit to change? It might be the one that’s the easiest to change or it might be the one that you feel will have the biggest impact.
For example, you might decide to switch to whole grain bread instead of white bread. That’s a simple step that’s pretty easy to take. Or you might decide to start having a morning breakfast smoothie. This smoothie could contain half your day’s fruits and veggies. It would significantly impact your health and nutrition in a positive way but might require you to make some changes to your morning routine – in short, it might not be easy, but it will be worth it.
So decide the habit you want to tackle first and decide how you’re going to replace that unhealthy habit with a nutritious one. Make a plan.
Tackle Your Habits One at a Time
They say it takes about 21 days to create a new habit. So that gives you about three weeks for each new habit. Take this time. Give yourself room to adapt and grow. You can get overwhelmed by trying to make too many changes at once. You may begin feeling restricted and deprived. Then what usually happens is a backlash. You might be doing well for several weeks as you cut out all of those unhealthy habits and hold yourself to a very high standard. But then you have a bad day, something stresses you out, you fall back into old habits and all of that hard work is forgotten.
When you give yourself time to adapt and change you won’t feel deprived. You won’t feel overwhelmed, and you won’t lose control. And when you do have a soda, eat an ice cream sundae or enjoy a cheeseburger you won’t feel like you’ve failed because you know that you’re in control and one “cheat” does not ruin all of your efforts for the day, nor will it impact how you eat tomorrow.
Eating healthy isn’t about being perfect. It’s about knowing what foods fuel your body and make you feel great. You’ll lose weight, it’ll stay off, and you’ll be able to enjoy the occasional indulgence without feeling guilty or like you failed.
And here’s a side benefit that might surprise you…
With each change you make, you’ll gather momentum. So next, let’s take a look at some small changes you can make to get big results.
Small Changes You Can Make To Get Big Results
• Kick the soda habit.
• Eat fruits and veggies for snacks.
• Eat a healthy breakfast!
• No more starchy carbs. Start replacing them with whole grains.
• Veggies with every meal – including breakfast.
• Bring your own lunch to work – it’s difficult to eat a nutritious meal at most restaurants.
• Eat fish at least once a week.
• Eat a vegetarian dinner once a week.
• Try a new fruit or vegetable weekly.
• Bring snacks with you – don’t allow yourself to get to the point where you’re so hungry you’re craving sugar or junk.
• Drink more water and fewer sugary drinks like juice or coffee drinks.
Remember, it’s much easier and you have a better chance of success when you tackle one habit at a time. Start with the habit that makes the most sense for you, create a plan to make it happen and enjoy the results. Before we wrap up, here’s a quick example of how you might create a plan for one of these habits.
Let’s say you have a habit of drinking soda during the day. You know they’re empty calories with no nutritional value whatsoever and diet soda isn’t much better. So you decide that’s the habit you want to replace first. You’ll need a two-pronged approach. How will you quit drinking soda and what good habit will you replace it with?
If you drink several sodas a day you might cut back to one per day for a few days and then half a soda a day for a few days and then just one soda a week. You could replace your soda with water or even carbonated water. After a week or two of drinking one soda a week, it’ll be easy to quit drinking soda all together. If you drink two sodas a day, simply quitting this habit will help you lose a pound a week or 52 pounds in a year! Small changes reap huge rewards!
As you begin to make changes to your nutritional habits and start losing weight remember that this is supposed to be a positive and fun experience. Stay focused on your long-term goal, which is to get healthy and to look and feel better.
Don’t feel like the food you have to eat needs to be tasteless to be nutritious – real food is delicious, and weight loss and good nutrition can be too. Stay focused on your long term goals and when you make mistakes, don’t give up. Keep working to modify your nutritional habits to live a long and healthy life at your ideal weight.