Are you overweight or obese? Do you feel like it’s just too hard to lose weight? Does it seem like most weight loss habit changes are too radical, will take too long, will involve suffering, or deprivation? You are not alone, and that kind of an attitude can mean NO changes at all, which is the worst decision possible. You can make small, meaningful changes that will not consume your time, will offer little discomfort or misery, but which will help you to be “healthier at any size.” The key is to avoid the all or nothing attitude and choose to make several very specific and easy changes in behaviors.
Give up some liquid calories
Liquid calories simply don’t fill you up. It’s also easy to guzzle a 200 calorie drink, along with each meal, and accumulate a significant number of extra calories from these beverages. When you eat, if you don’t chew it, you also miss out on a feeling of satisfaction that we experience when taking forkfuls of real food. Sweet liquid calories also enter your bloodstream pretty quickly, since they don’t require significant digestion. So you get a sugar high, followed by plummeting blood sugar levels, which typically instigates more eating. You may also be justifying liquid calories because of your fitness efforts. Embracing a water and unsweetened tea habit can help you with weight loss, weight maintenance, and limit your risk for diseases like pre-diabetes and diabetes, conditions associated with consuming too many sweetened beverages.
Add in some walking daily
Do you hate to exercise? Some people don’t like sweating; they don’t like committing to a boring experience like running; they feel short of breath when they exercise because of excess weight; they feel judged on their effort by other more fit exercisers; they are very self conscious in fit wear. If that’s the case for you, then a simple walking program can be enough to stimulate your heart muscle, your heart rate, and provide basic health benefits. Build walking into your day by taking some walking breaks at work, walking to and from a car you park further away from your destination, and adding some weekend walks with a buddy (if it’s a social experience you will enjoy it). Studies have shown that walking can reduce the risk of heart disease, breast cancer, boost your mood, set you up for a better night’s sleep, and even counteract some of the extra calories you may be eating.
Reduce the amount of processed grains you eat
When you choose foods, you can’t only think about calories – you also need to consider the quality or nutrient value of the food, and decide which food group(s) is most apt to offer satisfaction and meet specific needs. If it’s too challenging to reduce the amount of food you eat daily, then consider being more choosy. That means choosing foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, eggs, fish, low fat or fat free dairy products, and occasionally lean meats. It means reducing the amount of “transformed or processed foods” you eat, like white and tan baked goods, sweetened cereals, fast food entrees, and high sodium snacks. You are likely to lose some weight by just swapping out for cleaner, simpler foods, and by choosing limited amounts of whole grain and high fiber grains. Reducing the amount of sweet, processed foods in your diet will also help with blood sugar control and may help to reduce insulin resistance. Eating less sodium or salt (prevalent in processed grain foods) will help to reduce your risk for high blood pressure, heart disease and also help minimize water retention.
Add fish to your diet a few times a week
It’s clear that eating fish has enormous health payoffs. The specific omega 3 fatty acids that fish offers can help to minimize your risk of dying from a heart attack. For years, the American Heart Association has recommended eating low mercury fish a minimum of twice weekly, to lower overall risk of heart disease. What’s interesting is that new studies are now looking at other compounds in fish, aside from the fatty acids, as possibly providing health benefits. We do know that omega 3 fatty acids from fish may help to lower triglycerides, reduce blood clots, limit the risk of developing a stroke, reduce arrhythmias and as previously mentioned lower overall risk of cardiac death. Of course, every time you swap out fish for meat, you’re also reducing consumption of saturated fats. Choose oily fish like salmon, lake trout, herring, sardines, and fresh or chunk light tuna.
Go meatless one or two days a week
You don’t have to be a vegetarian or a vegan to enjoy health benefits from your diet. A nice middle ground is to simply commit to a few days of meat free meals. If you make the right choices (highly processed grains is not one of them), you can reduce saturated fat and also gain benefits from other specific protein choices. Fish, beans and legumes, eggs and egg whites, Greek yogurt, nuts and nut butters, tofu and tempeh and higher protein grains like quinoa can be your go-to choices. At snacktime, fill up on fruits and vegetables, small servings of healthy fats like avocado and flaxseed, and use protein-based dips like bean dip and hummus. Or just grab a Greek yogurt and add some berries.
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Published On: August 04, 2014