Let’s reflect on the word nutrition for a minute. Have you noticed that it is popping up more often than ever before? As children we were taught nutrition in school and at the doctor’s office, but now talk of nutrition is everywhere. We are surrounded by the word nutrition on the news, in magazines, on food labels, and even in restaurant menus.
Unfortunately, despite the massive amount of information available, many of my patients are still falling short when it comes to just “the basics.” If you feel like you may fall into this category, you are not alone. In fact, you may be surprised to learn you fit into “the norm” in the United States. What is even more surprising is just how “short” U.S. adults are of meeting daily nutritional needs.
Let’s look at produce for example. While the daily recommendation for produce is five servings, stats show the median daily intake for adults in the U.S. is 1.6 servings of vegetables and 1.1 servings of fruit! How do your daily servings compare to this statistic?
If you aren’t quite reaching five servings of produce a day, you may want to consider setting a goal to add more produce to your diet. This is a great way to start the ball rolling towards a healthier, happier you! But produce isn’t the only factor you should consider when it comes to healthy habits and weight loss. Below we will further explore why you should add more produce to your diet and four additional goals to set for a happy waistline.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit these goals probably aren’t anything new. I’m not going to reveal to you a hidden weight loss secret or a magical method to slim your waist. What I am going to share, however, is the most tried-and-true habits out there. You may be familiar with them. But while many people are aware of the habits it takes to achieve a healthier lifestyle, these same people may not be fostering the habits in their everyday life. Take time to consider each goal and if you are already attaining this goal in your daily life.
While produce may not be everybody’s favorite food type, the benefits of finishing off your veggies are far too great to pass up. Let’s start with the simple facts. Produce is packed full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Not only do the vitamins and minerals support our immune system, but the fiber can also help reduce your caloric intake. How?
Have you ever eaten a meal and felt hungry shortly after? This is because of the type of food you ate. Fiber is broken down by your digestive system much slower than other foods leaving you feeling fuller, longer. Not only will this reduce the amount of food you eat in one meal, it will also help prevent that pesky craving for unhealthy snacks throughout the day. But it isn’t all about the fiber. Produce is also naturally low in calories. Opting for a cup of non-starchy vegetables rather than a cup of cooked pasta can leave you feeling satisfied with only 1/8th of the calories. How easy is that?
Most importantly, however, is the impact produce has on your health in the long-term. Eating five servings of produce a day is linked to a lower risk of chronic diseases such as stroke, heart disease and certain cancers.
How to Reach Your Goal: Plan out your meals ahead of time. Include one serving of fruit in your breakfast, one serving of fruit in every snack, and two servings of veggies in each lunch and dinner. While you may think this can get boring, there are plenty of ways to get creative with your fruit and veggies. A serving is measured as one cup of fresh produce. To give you an idea, this is about the size of a tennis ball. Try different combinations of fruits in a smoothie, mix it into oatmeal or yogurt, or just eat the fruit plain one juicy bite at a time. For your lunch and dinner servings of veggies, create meals centered on veggies as the base. The possibilities are endless!
Pepsi versus Coke? This may be a very debatable question, but one thing is for sure, soda leads to many unwanted effects including weight gain. On the other hand, choosing good ol’ water may have more benefits than you know. To start with, individuals that reach their daily fluid intake by drinking mostly water tend to have an overall healthier diet. A study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that these hydrated individuals had diets consisting of less sugars, more fiber, and fewer high-calorie foods.
Drinking more water and meeting daily fluid recommendations is also linked to greater weight-loss success. This is achieved due to water’s ability to boost your metabolism and curb hunger. Not convinced yet?
What if I told you that participants in a study who drank about 7 cups of water a day ate nearly 200 calories fewer than the participants who knocked back less than a single glass? A second study showed that adults who drank 2 cups of water right before their meal ate 75 to 90 calories fewer than those who didn’t drink the water. Yet a third study, this time conducted in Germany, found that within 10 minutes of drinking 16-ounces of water, calorie burning increased by 30%. This boost in calorie burning lasted for over an hour.
How to Reach Your Goal: The key to this goal is keeping water on hand at all times. It may be convenient to reach for a soda in the fridge, but it will be less tempting if you have a water bottle with you at all times. Start your day by drinking 16 ounces of water (2 cups). Repeat this serving three more times throughout the day, but be careful not to drink too much before bed! If you prefer your beverages to have a bit more taste, don’t be afraid to mix it up by cutting up a lemon, lime, or cucumber and tossing into your glass of water. For a bit more variety, try fresh mint leaves, fresh grated ginger, organic citrus zest, or your favorite fruit. I really enjoy berries or tangerine wedges in my water!
While the consumption of whole grains like brown rice and quinoa has increased in recent years, the average consumption of whole grains in the U.S. remains at less than one serving a day. This means Americans are still eating too many refined grains. These grains include white rice, white bread, regular white pasta and all foods made with all-purpose flour. While whole grains and refined grains begin as the same grain, the latter is processed to result in a grain that lacks its natural nutrients and fiber.
If you remember our discussion about produce and fiber, than you already know that fiber slows the digestion process and is important for sustaining that feeling of fullness after a meal. What we didn’t discuss is fiber’s role in regulating insulin. Without the proper fiber in your diet, your body may be unable to regulate insulin and therefore blood sugar levels. Combined, these two factors can negatively affect appetite regulation.
Unfortunately, many people have been misled into thinking they need to eliminate carbs from their diet. While this is partially true, it is certainly not the whole truth. Not only do we need carbs to curb hunger, but carbs also fuel the body, enhance moods, and boost exercise endurance. The key, whether your goal is to lose weight or simply build healthier habits, is not cutting carbs, but selecting the right carbs and starches. Replace “white” and “refined” grains with 100% whole grain options. You may also choose non-grain nutrient-rich starches such as skin-on potatoes, beans, lentils, squash, or root vegetables.
How to Reach Your Goal: Keep your body fueled and your mood boosted by adding whole-food starch to each meal. Just how much starch? It is recommended to eat one to two servings per a meal based on your activity. For those who are more active, you will want to eat upwards of two servings while those who are less active may want to eat only one. The serving size for these foods is generally a half-cup cooked, but it is recommended to always check the serving size on the nutritional label.
The best part is that whole food starches are easy to add to all three meals of the day! Try eating oats or a puffed whole grain cereal for breakfast, a salad with quinoa or chickpeas for lunch, and a side of squash, lentils, wild rice or sweet potato with dinner.
It seems that when we are told that we cannot have something, we always want it more. This is especially true when it comes to food. All too often, when people try to cut something out of their diet, they end up binging on that same food down the road to satisfy their craving. For this reason, I always tell my clients that moderation is better than deprivation. Stats show that the daily intake of added sugar for the average American is 22 teaspoons! When I say added sugar, I’m not talking about the natural sugars we consume by eating fruits. Instead, I am referring to the sugar we stir into our morning cup of coffee or consume from sodas. While one spoonful of sugar may not seem like a lot, servings of sugar can really add up.
So how many servings should you aim for each day? The American Heart Association says that the target servings of sugar combined from food and beverages should not exceed six level teaspoons for women and nine for men. While this number is relatively low, it isn’t all bad news. The important part is that you don’t have to completely cut sugar out of your diet!
How to Reach Your Goal: You may not want to hear it, but the easiest way to start is by eliminating processed sweets from your diet such as candy and packaged treats. Avoid temptation by cleaning out your pantry and cabinets. If you still find yourself struggling to make this change, avoid the aisles with your favorite sugary snacks at the grocery store. After all, the freshest, healthiest food is usually located on the parameter of the store.
If you still find yourself fighting off cravings, don’t deprive yourself. As we discussed, moderation is better than complete elimination. Treat yourself daily with dark chocolate (up to an ounce of 70% cocoa or greater). Not a fan of dark chocolate? Pre-plan a cheat day once or twice a week where you can indulge in your favorite sweets without ruining all your hard work. Now, this doesn’t mean that you can exceed your daily limit of sugar. Instead, plan out your sugar intake for that particular day allowing enough sugar servings so that you can split your favorite dessert after dinner or enjoy a special bakery cookie.
The next step is to pay attention to nutritional labels. Many of the foods we consume that we think are healthy like yogurt or almond milk may actually have hidden sugar. This is especially true for items that are flavored like coffee creamer. In many cases, flavoring is just added sugar, so be careful. The best rule of thumb here is to read every label thoroughly, regardless of what you think the item contains. Even some salad dressings and tomato sauces have added sugar! Look for unsweetened versions of your favorite foods or make them yourself and skip the sugar. You may actually find that some recipes are even better than store bought foods.
While it may seem like sugar is everywhere, the good news is you don’t have to completely eliminate sugar from your diet. Avoid as much sugar as possible and keep track of any sugar you do consume. A healthy balance between allowing yourself to enjoy food while staying within your limits is the healthiest, happiest way to lose weight and keep it off.
Become Food Aware
With any weight loss plan or healthy eating strategy, it is important to consider what your individual difficulties are. Some people are unable to identify when they feel full. Other individuals express their trouble with eating out of boredom, after a bad day, or simply out of habit. This is what we refer to as non-physical eating triggers. For some, the issue may be eating too fast. Focusing on your eating habits and becoming aware of your body’s signals is very important to weight loss. In fact, raising your eating awareness can be as effective as attending a formal weight loss class.
When you slow down your eating, not only do you enjoy your food and therefore feel more satisfied, but slower eating is actually linked to eating less as well. A study from the University of Rhode Island revealed that fast eaters consumed more than three ounces of food per a minute, while medium-speed eaters ate 2.5 ounces and slow eaters only ate 2 ounces.
Tune Up Your Body And Get The Bad Stuff Out. By Way of Analogy, Like Running Disc Frag And Scan Disc on computer, But On Your Body…. Try a Gentle Detox.
The beginning of a new year is the most popular time to set goals. Whether you plan to further your career, set aside more time for your loved ones, or begin a healthier lifestyle, January 1st is the perfect time to get a fresh start and set your sights on something you’ve always wanted. For many people, the #1 goal is weight loss. Every year, as the clock strikes midnight, millions of people vow to slim down in the New Year. Whether this resolution stems from the desire to tackle current health problems or just to look good and feel better, the journey towards a slimmer waistline can be frustrating.
Weight loss doesn’t just happen overnight. It is a slow process that requires lots of patients. Many people who don’t get the results they are looking for are more inclined to just give up. The problem is, the health products market is constantly marketing “magic” weight loss supplements or regimens that appear as if the weight will just fall right off over night.
We hear it in the news and see it in magazines. Everywhere we look, somebody or something is telling us to eat this and avoid that and do this simple step to make those pounds just fall off. But it doesn’t work like that. Sure, some people do actually lose weight. But this weight loss often isn’t permanent and it is easy to become discouraged when you see all of your hard work didn’t actually pay off in the end.
There are several reasons we may see the weight rebound after completing a weight loss plan. You see, it takes more than a change in diet and activity to drop those unwanted pounds. To truly lose weight and keep it off, we must address underlying causes of weight gain. One of these causes is the toxicity within your body.
Unfortunately, toxins surround us in our everyday life. Pollutants exist in the foods we eat, the water we drink and even the air we breathe. We consume toxins when we eat foods containing pesticides, artificial colors and flavors, and growth hormones. Another 7,000 pollutants are in our drinking water as estimated by the EPA. And if that isn’t enough, toxic chemicals are even found in cosmetics, can be inhaled from cleaning products, and are often leaked into our foods from cooking pans.
When toxins enter our body, they can have an adverse affect on our cells, internal organs, and overall well-being. To prevent this, our body has its own natural line of defense—the liver and kidneys. These organs work to filter out harmful chemicals and pollutants. The liver’s main responsibility is to cleanse the blood, integrate nutrients, and metabolize fat. The kidneys, on the other hand, play a similar role, but are focused on purification. The kidneys are responsible for the regulation of blood pressure and the prevention of waste build up.
When too many pollutants build up in our system, the liver and kidneys cannot function at an optimal level. This decrease in efficiency can present itself through fatigue, allergies, low immunity, bloating, headaches, and even moodiness. Another sign of toxic overload is weight gain.
If the liver and kidneys are unable to properly fulfill their responsibilities, toxins can begin building up in the cells of the body. When this happens, the body reacts by surrounding the toxic cells with adipose tissue and increasing inflammation. Adipose tissue is really just a fancy name for fat cells. By surrounding toxic cells with fat, the body is naturally slowing the process of these toxic cells being broken down and helping to prevent the pollutants from entering our blood stream and being filtered. While this may make sense of why toxicity in our body can lead to weight gain, the accumulation of adipose tissue around toxic cells isn’t the only way that toxins can contribute to weight gain.
I mentioned before that the efficiency of the liver and kidneys is affected when toxins overburden them. While this does lead to fat cell production, it also has a ripple effect that influences all other processes in our body. You see, our body is dependent on all of our organs working at an optimal level. When one or more organs are unable to properly function, the body becomes unbalanced. This not only leads to the accumulation of adipose tissue and indigestion, but the imbalance in the body flips the switch on our metabolism from fat burning to fat storing.
The inflammation from fat accumulation directly affects our digestive system. It also puts stress on our cardiovascular system, which leads to high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Even seemingly non-related things like achy joints and a slowed circulation can result from toxin overload.
If you want to lose weight and keep it off, it is important to start internally. This means cleansing your body of toxins so that it can respond to your weight loss goals. In other words, in order to achieve the results you want, you must give your body the proper support it needs for a full system reset. The best way to do this is by detoxifying your body to release impurities and expedite fat burning.
If you suffer from any of the above-mentioned health problems, you owe it to yourself to take your newly found knowledge and implement it in your life. Making small changes—just a few a week—will help you reach your goal and sustain a healthier lifestyle.
Get started today by adding power-packed nutritional foods to your meals. Foods like avocados, beets and green vegetables are a great way to maintain a healthy, balanced life. Of course, don’t forget to scrub and wash all of your produce well to eliminate any pesticides that may be on their outer surface. Another great and simple change you can make today is only drinking and cooking with filtered water. Each morning, add fresh squeezed lemon to warm, filtered water and drink first thing. This simple beverage will help detoxify the liver.
While these changes are a great place to start, if you feel like you need more support on your path to a cleaner, healthier body, consider OUR 21 Day Program. We designed our program to help your body achieve the support it needs in as few as 21 days. Our steps are simple and easy and they don’t require food denials or fasting. In just a short time, your body will be on its way to a balanced, optimal life! Call Today and mention blog and SAVE big time. 714-962-5031.
How to Reach Your Goal: When you plan to implement any diet, whether it is for weight loss, medical reasons, or a healthier lifestyle, it is essential to keep an eating journal. Not only will writing down what you eat help you to become more accountable, but taking notes will also help you become more mindful of when, how and why you consume food. Keep your food journal with you and write down what and how much you eat. But don’t just stop there. Record your levels of hunger before and after eating. If you feel overly full, what was it about that particular meal that made you feel like you over ate? Did you eat too fast? Were you watching TV without paying attention to the food you were consuming? Monitoring how you feel before and after meals is a great way to begin to tune into your eating habits.
Another great way is to jot down any emotional notes such as cravings you had before feeling angry or activities you were doing that triggered you to want a snack. Eating triggers such as boredom are very common. When you are able to identify what prompted you to want to eat even though you weren’t hungry, you will learn to address your emotional needs in non-food ways.
To become fully aware of your eating, commit to eating at least one meal a day solo without any distractions. Focus on your eating speed and try to slow it down. Pause between each bite and focus inwardly on how your body is responding. While you are chewing, pay attention to the flavors and textures of your food. Take the time to enjoy each bite. When you feel like you have eaten enough, stop eating and remove the food in front of you immediately—even if you haven’t eaten all of the food on your plate.
Eating alone in a quiet area where you can focus solely on yourself may feel awkward at first, but your waistline will thank you. Practicing solo eating will allow you to break mindless eating patterns, catch yourself eating too quickly, and ultimately slow your food consumption. You may even realize that you enjoy your food even more while not eating as much! If that isn’t a great way to pave the path to a happier and healthier you, I don’t know what is!
Questions, ask way, just call 714-962-5031.
About Acupuncturist Dr. Stefanie M. Bennett, LAc, PhD – Holds both a masters and doctorate in acupuncture and Chinese medicine, plus two diplomats. She has completed additional training in functional medicine, herbal medicine, and applied clinical nutrition. She has been practicing in Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach for over 13 years. She can be reached at 714-962-5031 and new patients are welcome