It's no secret, eating healthy is a vital component of slimming down. Dietary fads that focus on eating one type of food (for example carbohydrates or proteins) or totally eliminating others entirely (such as fats and sugars) never last if your goal is weight loss and health. For your body to stay healthy it takes a variety of these foods, most in moderation.
For the holidays then, I've put together a few helpful hints for slenderizing. Remember, during the holidays the focus should be more on weight maintenance, then immediately resume your weight loss efforts for the post-holiday. In my experience, if you give yourself a bit of wiggle room during the holidays, you will be less inclined to over-eat, yet still enjoy all your favorite foods. This holiday season, try to keep these five simple tips for healthy eating in mind. Any sound weight loss and maintenance program will focus on:
1.) Understanding what to eat
2.) Knowing when to eat
3.) Understanding how much to consume
4.) How to simplify your purchasing
5.) How to correctly prepare your food intake
1.) There is so much information available on what to eat that it's easy to become confused and give up healthy eating all together. Understanding what to eat isn't as difficult as it seems. The key is within the food pyramid (we like the old fashioned one).
The majority of your diet plan (Six to seven servings) ought to be made up of grains (the bottom of the pyramid). These include wholegrain breads, cereals, brown rice and wheat pasta (providing you are free from food allergies).
Next are fruits and vegetables which will provide the fiber, vitamins and essential minerals that the body needs. We say, eat lots of these, especially veggies. As a sidebar, the closer the vegetables and fruit are to their natural state, the more nutritious they will be (processing removes nutrients).
We like to minimize animal products such as dairy and protein (milk, cheese, meat). Protein is important for strong bones and muscles. So please aim to get 2-3 servings of lean cuts of meat, free range meats, or substitute with beans and nuts. Almond milk is a great substitute for dairy, or aim to use hormone free skim milk and milk products. Do be sure to check your blood calcium levels periodically with your doctor. Aim to supplement if you feel you need an extra calcium boost.
The top the pyramid includes oils and fats, meaning they should be consumed sparingly. Full of flavor, but low in nutritional value, select unsaturated fats, nuts and vegetable oils but do research Omega 3's and fish oil to be sure your are getting enough EFA's (Essential Fatty Acids) for your body.
2.) Knowing when you should eat is easy. It is something most of our parents told us -- eat when you're hungry and stop when you are full. Try to keep this in mind, especially during the holidays. As easy as it sounds, many people find this one of the most difficult of items to control. Because of busy schedules and existing bad eating habits many people often eat emotionally or eat by the clock, as their schedule permits. Aim to keep healthy snacks with you at all times. Foods like almonds, carrot sticks, pumpkins seeds (just to name a few) will keep you from eating everything in sight once your main meal is served. Keep your blood sugar regulated at all times and you will easily overcome the obstacle of when to eat.
3.) Just how much to eat is equally as big an issue as knowing when to eat. Today things are super-sized, value-sized and pretty much over-sized. Two daily servings of meat are not much since an amount is just 2 oz. A typical restaurant steak is at least 8oz, that is twice your everyday requirement. The same goes for virtually all the foods we eat. A serving of salad dressing (from the fat and oil group) is just 1 tbsp, not the more than 1/4 cup we unknowingly pour on in the salad bar. Understanding portion control is essential to maintain a healthy diet. Again, aim to choose whole, healthy foods and only eat until you are full, putting your fork down between bites.
4.) Simplifying your shopping might seem difficult when aiming for a wide variety of foods, but it's not. The more ingredients you include in a recipe, the more processed foods and empty calories you add to your diet. By continuing to keep recipes simple, not only will meals taste better, but they will also be filled with all of the nutrients your body needs, provided you do not cook it them out. It's easy to find simple recipes online with a quick google search.
5.) In addition to choosing healthy food, how you cook will determine just how much nutritional value you end up with, which is why it is also important to know how to properly prepare the foods you consume. Although raw carrots are the most nutritious, does it matter if you boil or steam them before serving as a side dish? Yes! Boiling removes all of the carrots essential vitamins, which end up discarded in the water, while steaming maintains their color, texture and nutritional value. So how you ready your meals is just as essential as what you're preparing. Always make sure meats are fully cooked, but when it comes to fruits and vegetables, the closer to raw you can get, the better.
If you bear in mind these five simple tips, you'll be on your way to eating healthier and maintaining (if not losing weight) even during the holidays!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laura M. Turner, journalist, author and Certified Natural Health Practitioner is the creator of the Body Talk eZine: Nature's Anti-Aging Treasures Website. She invites you to join her "10 Years Younger" Campaign and to learn more about living younger, healing yourself and those you love with quality retail or wholesale Young Living essential oils and essential oil-based products. Visit today and begin a healthier tomorrow.