As we ring in the New Year, many of us have areas in our lives in which we want to spend extra effort to improve. That may be losing a few pounds, eating healthy or using that gym membership you forgot about. In the past, you may have tried the latest fad diet or exercised like there was no tomorrow in hopes to shed a few pounds without lasting results.
Weight loss doesn’t happen overnight and takes more than exercise and restricting calories for success. While exercise and portion size certainly play a role, it’s the types of food that are important. Counting calories is exhausting and “diet” foods, not only taste bad and are unsatisfying, but can be harmful. They’re full of processed ingredients, sugar, artificial sweeteners, chemicals and preservatives. Avoiding refined foods and sugar while focusing on adding real food will help you on your way to successful weight loss and an overall improvement to your health. Clean eating fuels the body with nutrient dense, whole foods which give you energy to go about your day. When we are healthy, fit and consume adequate nutrients from real food, the body can fall into its natural, healthy weight and is sustainable.
If you have been on a low-calorie diet and have been unable to lose weight, eat more! To lose weight, you need fuel your body so it can perform how it is intended to. From proper digestion to detoxification to producing energy, the body needs nutrients from real food. It is counterproductive to skip meals and restrict calories. When meals are skipped, the body is starving and it will burn less fat. Eat smaller, more frequent meals.
It’s likely you have heard about the low carb craze. While too many refined carbs can cause excess weight, the body needs carbohydrates. Minimally proceed vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains are the best sources. They are cleansing, detoxifying and contain essential vitamins, alkalizing minerals, fiber and other nutrients. Set a goal of 8-10 servings of organic and colorful fruits and vegetables per day. That’s probably more than you are eating now, so take your time, each week add 1 extra serving per day. Try a new vegetable you’ve never had every week. Whole grains are important for weight loss and overall health as well – a serving is about 1/2 cup and remember a serving of bread is 1 slice.
Protein encourages healing and building and should be included at every meal, especially breakfast. A serving of protein is about the size of a deck of cards. Focus on organic, grass-fed and free range meat and eggs, wild caught seafood and fish, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes.
Don’t forget about healthy fats – avocados, olives, coconut, raw nuts and seeds, grass-fed butter, ghee, extra virgin olive oil, lard, tallow, duck fat and unrefined coconut oil. A serving is around 1-2 tablespoons. Try sautéing or roasting your veggies in a healthy fat! A handful of raw nuts with a piece of fruit makes a great snack.
Along with eating real food, hydration is essential for weight loss and detoxification. Work up to 1/2 your body weight in ounces per day, more if you’re day includes caffeinated beverages or alcohol. Carry a bottle of water around as a reminder. Often time people mistake thirst for hunger, if you feel hungry, drink a glass of water and wait a few minutes.
Exercise and stress management are also important. Strive for 30 minutes of exercise at least 3 times per week. Stress is a factor in weight loss, you may not realize how much stress you’re carrying around. It’s especially important to slow down and relax when you eat. This allows for digestion to occur and absorption of the wonderful nutrients from the real food you just ate. Yoga, breathing exercise and meditation are great tools for reducing stress!
Clean eating isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle and becomes easier as you go. Habits can be changed, you just have to work at it. Keeping a food journal and allowing yourself a favorite “bad” foods once a week can help keep on the path. If you get off track don’t be discouraged, take a moment, clear your mind then jump right back in!