habits, healthy lifestyle, microbiome, nutrition, weight loss

4 Questions To Help You Choose A Real Food Plan

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Beginning the year 2018, there are over 40 diet plans available. Whether you’d like to lose weight, eat healthier, or manage a disease, many find narrowing down a plan that will work for their goals difficult.

US News compiled a recent list based on factors such as “ease of compliance,” short and long term weight loss averages, and effectiveness for preventing disease.  Despite the research and ranking system, they ultimately concluded:

“There is an established theme of what is considered healthy eating, but no single diet is the best for all of us…. Ultimately, a ‘best’ diet is one that can be adopted, managed and sustained over time” (Here’s their full list with explanations).

So that puts you back to the beginning in trying to decide which diet plan is the best choice to get you across your goal finish line.

Here’s 4 simple questions to narrow down your options based on your habits and lifestyle: 

 

  1. What do you like to eat?

If you love bacon, then no matter how amazing a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle is for health and weight management, you aren’t going to stick with it long enough for its benefits!

Be realistic.  You are already making changes that are going to require mindfulness and determination; don’t overwhelm yourself by overhauling your entire life that is contingent on one aspect of daily life: food.

#meatlessmonday is a great way to introduce new flavors and meals. Less commitment to learning new recipes and cooking with new ingredients. My kids will tell you that it is also less stressful for the family, who are often along for the ride.  It takes multiple exposures to change your taste buds.

Follow hashtags on Instagram based on a macronutrient group to give you ideas.  Simply incorporating more positive visual stimuli (eye candy), will actually influence your food choices!  Look for meal suggestions using hashtags like #fish or #steak for protein, #sweetpotato or #eattherainbow for veggie suggestions, or #eatfat and a side of #avocado for fats.

Enjoy pasta or grain based foods? A Paleo or anti-inflammatory diet will be a hard adjustment to palate as well. You may want to start with a Weight Watchers or another type of diet that teaches you how to reduce portion sizes first. Or, sign up for a weekly meal planner with proportioned grocery list!

Love to bake? Highly recommend Trim Healthy Mama, which is also family friendly.  You’ll be making some pantry swaps that are healthier and easy to use.

Learning to prepare tasty veggies is a skill that goes a long way in liking healthier foods.  Let’s be honest: much of stubborn weight struggles come down to not consistently eating half our plate in veggies.  Trying one of the meal delivery services with instructions is a good option.  Or, I have a resource list of real food cookbooks that will put some pep into your meal options!

On a budget? If you like eggs, this makes the food budget much less for easy, quality meals that will transform your health and weight.  However, nutritionally speaking, it really will make a difference if you choose organic, free range, and grain free eggs; the proof is in the Omegas…and the color of the yolk.

One recommendation is the ketogenic diet as there is a wide range of meals made with eggs, from desserts to snacks to main dishes.  My family can’t taste the difference with recipes from Maria Emmerich, an international bestselling ketogenic cookbook author.

 

  1. What are your goals?

Most stubborn weight gain is caused by 3 main issues: Hormonal imbalances, Inflammation, and Metabolic dysfunction (read more in this post).  Good info and easy to fix with a real food lifestyle, but sometimes your goals are more pressing in order to keep you moving forward.  Here’s some quick food tips for common goals to consider in your diet:

Less bloat: swap grain choices to complex carbohydrate gluten-free (Read this post, Gluten Free Grains Your Digestive System Will Love); soak beans and grains first to reduce the problem (Read How to Soak Grains for Optimal Nutrition); try drinking Kombucha to add beneficial bacteria and digestive enzymes. Consider high magnesium foods daily.

More energy: balance blood sugar levels and less stimulants to mess with your cortisol controlled circadian rhythm; try lower glycemic index foods like low carb and ketogenic recipes

Better sleep: carb cycling with lower GI foods, eat more healthy fats, drink herbal teas, learn relaxation techniques that stimulate the vagus nerve-brain axis to lower stress response. Again, consider high magnesium foods and less refined grains and absolutely no sugar.

 

  1. What is your time frame?

While quick fat or water loss will move the scale back, are you only after short term results? Aim for the most nutritious foods and add them to quality bone broth as soup meals.

Simply eliminating refined white flour products and reducing all forms of sugar intake each day will make a huge difference, both in the short and long term! This can be done cold turkey style (elimination) or with healthier swaps (Eat This, Not That).  Fortunately, both options greatly reduce stomach bloating and will help your jeans fit nicer.

But don’t forget that non scale victories are just as rewarding! Strength training or HIIT will trim up your appearance but may not move the scale right away. I lost 20 pounds in a year by doing 10 minutes of exercise right when I woke up every morning.

In one week of using the Seven (minute) App, my arms are visibly more tone, which did not move the scale in either direction, but gave me motivation to keep at my goal of making healthier choices.

sugar, addiction, health, healthy eating, healthy dietA more intense, shorter duration time frame will involve stabilizing your blood sugar levels and resetting your sensitivity to insulin, a master hormone intricately involved in weight regulation.  Specific food groups will include more vegetables, quality protein sources, and eating healthy fats with each meal.

Food plans that will get you to your goal in this time frame will be lower in carbohydrate consumption and support group diets that monitor each choice like Weight Watchers, Atkins, and Jenny Craig.  Assigning a number value to a food helps you to see how the smaller pieces make up the larger pie.

The Ketogenic Diet is also a great option; while it is very low carbohydrates, the emphasis is on the therapeutic effects of the much higher amount and source of healthy fats in each meal or from burning your own body fat.

What can you realistically sustain over the longer haul? Getting past the six month mark increases the odds that the weight will stay off if you are using the 80/20 rule for healthy eating: 80 % of the time you choose healthy foods and 20% you “cheat.” Or, eliminate this mindset altogether by becoming fat-adapted. Check out the Primal Diet.

Take a look at these statistics:

  • “By some estimates, more than 80 percent of people who have lost weight regain all of it, or more, after two years. Researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles analyzed 31 long-term diet studies and found that about two-thirds of dieters regained more weight within four or five years than they initially lost”
  • “people who followed a very low-calorie diet regained significantly more weight than those on a more forgiving plan.”
  • “women try to lose weight on diets with too few calories,” says Judith Beck, Ph.D., director of the Beck Institute of Cognitive Therapy and author of “The Beck Diet Solution.” “If you lose weight on 1,200 calories a day, the minute you go up to 1,300 is the minute you start gaining weight.”
  • “weight cycling can actually change your physiology. So the more diets you’ve been on, the harder it becomes to lose the weight. A hunger hormone called ghrelin increases, and a fullness hormone called leptin decreases, so you feel hungrier and less satiated” (NBC News, 2010)

More importantly, one significant long term effect of inconsistently changing your diet and foods for quick weight loss is how it reduces your body’s ability to fight infection:

“But perhaps most startling is the dangerous and lasting effect weight cycling has on the immune system. According to the first study of the long-term impacts of yo-yo dieting, women who repeatedly lost and gained weight had lower immune function, particularly lower counts of natural killer cells” (NBC News, 2010).

Since your immune system is located in your gut, or GI tract, incorporating foods that restore and establish a healthy gut microbiome brings long term success for both wellness and weight management.

A healthy gut is a firm foundation for better moods and less cravings, which will help you with the second most important long term weight loss stipulation: In order to successfully lose weight and keep it off long term regardless of time frame, you must tackle eating behaviorsBinge eating and emotional triggers will get the best of willpower. That you can count on!

 

  1. Are you the Tortoise or the Hare when it comes to achieving a goal?

healthy eating, wellness, habits, weight loss

Making changes is hard. Realistic expectations about your goals, where you are in life, and what motivates you significantly impact your ability to make and be successful following through with changes.  Having a plan definitively makes it easier for the goals to “stick,” creates enjoyment, and allows the change to become “hard wired” into your brain.

Habits take time.  James Clear summarized a study done that accounted for both the action and how “automatic the behavior felt,” reporting that “On average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances.”

Regardless of how fast you move toward your goal, an easy first step is to make a change to your morning routine. You can preset the environment the night before and usually aren’t influenced by emotions first thing in the morning.  As James Clear recommends, start to think about habits as a process and not an event.

healthy eating, habits, weight loss

If you are more of the Hare when it comes to getting things done, I suggest you start with a diet that has as much of your meals planned out AND takes in to account your de-railing emotional trigger.   Food guidelines may also be a good solution, like these Daily Resets.

For instance, are you prone to late night eating? There are loads of Paleo snacks available in many grocery stores that will meet that need.  Adapting to an Intermittent Fasting eating schedule will give you wiggle room on your eating window while keeping your calorie intake in check.

Don’t like to spend much time in the kitchen? Maria Emmerich’s ketogenic cookbooks have recipes that are done in less than 30 minutes.  Or, consider a raw food diet for no cooking!

Fortunately, most Hare personalities don’t mind the cold turkey approach to starting; they just want to go and reach the end goal.  Decide on a food plan and just go! Reevaluate when you see some non-scale victories and before you feel the nudge to run in a different direction.  Consider a food plan or diet that many grocery stores, friends, and restaurants can accommodate like Whole30, Paleo, and Vegetarian.

Interested in the long game approach, where you plan, study the road blocks, other competitors, and prepare your winner’s speech in advance? Awesome; this prep work is getting you mentally prepared for the game and its time commitment to build a lifestyle around the change.

There are some diets that require pre-planning, a shopping cart on Amazon for new food ingredients, and have an active online community support groups for tips. Trim Healthy Mama, the GAPS Diet, and autoimmune diets are great choices for many Tortoises.

Reset Your Weight {Basics}

There are a plethora of food and diet plans, but only one you! Take the time to #findyourflavor  (a Reset Your Weight hashtag!) so that you not only succeed at reaching your goal, you also enjoy the journey.  Play to your strengths to reset your taste buds and waistline so you are able to make effective, almost automatic changes.  Your mind and gut will thank you!

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