I always write an article on ways to change those over-indulgent patterns we all shift to during the Christmas season to help folks quickly shift into healthier habits and to drop those extra pounds accumulated over the holidays. One of the areas I address quite a bit at this time of year in my office is helping people get into a good routine again with eating, so, here are a few tips to achieve those goals.
1. Eat 3 full meals a day to initiate and keep that fire burning, in other words, you want to turn up your metabolic rate in the morning and burn calories all day to remove the excess fat.
2. Always eat breakfast to stimulate your metabolic rate—fruit with yogurt, nuts & seeds, whole grain porridge or whole grain flakes with nuts & seeds are a good choice or eggs & veggies with a piece of whole grain toast. This keeps the protein equivalent to the carbs (veggies/fruit/grains), which stabilizes the blood sugar to stop those cravings, especially after over-eating during the holidays.
3. Eat complex carbohydrates including veggies, fruit and whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, barley and oats. If you use refined grains, try to eat multi-grain bread & pasta, so that you feel satiated with lesser amounts. A side benefit is the fibre, which will bind on to toxins accumulated over the holidays and remove them from the body.
4. Make greens one of the main vegetables in your meals since these give you many of the micro-nutrients that help lose weight and the liver the ability to eliminate accumulated toxins (all that extra chocolate, sugar, coffee, desserts etc. etc. etc– you know what I mean!!!!). Because these are acidifying, the body protects itself by surrounding them with water or fat, so that extra weight can be shed by eating alkalinizing foods. When the body becomes alkaline, it can metabolize the toxins and let go of the protective layer as well. Any combination of swiss chard, kale, cooked spinach, collards, parsley, arugula or cilantro is best, but, beans, peas, broccoli or any other green vegetable is great too.
5. Drink plenty of herbal teas or water between meals to flush out toxins and to prevent constipation.
6. Always eat so that you are satisfied, then stop. Consider starting lunch or dinner with a soup. This fills the stomach and decreases the need to eat larger amounts of food afterwards.
7. Eat slowly and savour your food so that your body has a chance to signal that it is full. Eating with others is even better, since having a conversation creates a positive atmosphere and takes time. Positive endorphins decrease the need for extra comforting foods.
8. Try to stay with 3 meals per day, but, if you have been over-eating and need to re-set the level the stomach has gotten used to, you could use raw, unsalted nuts and seeds as a snack to add protein and stabilize blood sugar. Often, after the holiday, the body gets used to more food. This helps to re-establish the balance.
9. Minimize your intake of cow dairy products, beef and pork and trim off all white fat, since these cause inflammation in the body and contain fat that isn’t utilized. The body responds with a protection mechanism and cushions the irritants with more fat, which creates that mid-abdominal weight or plaques arteries and veins.
10. Avoid foods that have been hydrogenated, which create trans fats that are stored as fat and are not utilized, such as solid margarines, substitute butters or lard. It’s better to use olive oil, seed oils, coconut oil or butter.
11. Increase your amount of unsaturated essential fats, such as the omega 3’s and 6’s in raw nuts and seeds and of course their oils and butters, and the omega 3’s in fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines and halibut. These fats are utilized to lubricate your joints, keep your skin moist and prevent wrinkles, give your hair body, decrease inflammation in the body, produce hormones and stabilize blood sugar. I recommend at least 2 Tbsp/d of rotating seeds. (Look at www.getbetterhealthonline.com for the seed chart)
12. Use maple syrup, concentrated apple juice, barley malt, coconut sugar, date sugar or maple syrup for sweeteners and honey sparingly if you need a little sweetness to re-adjust the body from all those sweets, chocolate and cookies over the holidays.
13. Reduce salt intake which retains water, therefore weight–Interestingly when buying a free-range turkey for Christmas, the farmer told me they don’t feed the turkeys salt to increase their weight quickly!
14. Consider a satisfying dessert of cinnamon baked apples or pears, a fruit and nut crumble, lemon or coconut yogurt with warmed strawberries, raspberries or blueberries or a nut & seed bar to re-train the body away from sweet desserts. (Look at www.getbetterhealthonline.com for recipes)
15. Investigate whether you have allergies, sensitivities or a yeast overgrowth, which can all lead to holding on to excess weight.
16. Make sure your thyroid is functioning normally and take steps to improve its function. One of the indicators is temperature– a normal temp is 98-99F or 37-38.2C during the day.
All these tips should help you get back to the weight you wish to be and maintain it at that level consistently.