We all know that being slim does not always mean being healthy. In Top Ten Best-Ever Healthy Weight-Loss Tips, Elle Eriksson offers you sensible, effective ways to shed those unwanted pounds while improving overall health and wellbeing.
Blending personal wisdom with professional training and experience, Elle shares her insight and provides strategies for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Also included in these top ten tips is “a little food for thought” as the author explores some of today’s concerns around food quality and production.
With a variety of options for all body types, Elle guides you toward successful weight loss, using a whole-foods diet and realistic steps to attaining an active, balanced lifestyle. This easy-to-use guide includes a 21-Day Food/Weight/Fitness Journal along with real-life weight-loss success stories.
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TOP TEN BEST-EVER HEALTHY WEIGHT-LOSS TIPS
By ELLE ERIKSSON
iUniverse LLCCopyright © 2014 Elle Eriksson, RHN
All rights reserved.
KEEP YOUR FOOD COMBINATIONS SIMPLE
Take the load off a burdened digestive tract and refresh this dutiful servant with a diet that is simplified and purified. Weight loss is one of the many gifts of improved digestion.
The practice of creating simple food combinations not only improves digestion but also boosts energy and promotes weight loss. With this practice, meals are streamlined by separating food groups, primarily proteins from carbohydrates, because these groups digest at different speeds and utilize different digestive secretions. These differences can lead to competing processes within the digestive tract and may result in inefficiency and fatigue. Have you ever felt tired after a meat-and-potatoes meal? This digestive competition may be the reason. With a dinner meal that would normally consist of chicken, rice, and vegetables, try eating just the chicken (protein) and vegetables, designating the rice/grain (carbohydrate) for breakfast or lunch. Reduced busyness for the digestive tract equals more pep in your step.
When weight loss and improved digestion are achieved, you can return to a more complex meal, although it never hurts to add in a digestive enzyme supplement or a green salad with a meat-and-potatoes meal. But some people find that continuing to separate proteins and carbs at dinnertime not only helps their digestion but also prevents after-dinner low energy and helps them achieve a better night's sleep.
A few food-combining constants:
Proteins and starches—carbohydrate-rich foods, including grains, breads, pastas, potatoes, and squash—are always consumed separately.
Note: Vegetables and grains are both carbohydrates. However, unlike grains, vegetables do not convert to sugar (potatoes and other sweet and starchy veggies being the exception) and are therefore deemed neutral and may be eaten with anything, anywhere, and anytime.
Fruit, drinks, or desserts should not be consumed with or after meals.
Why, you ask? Fruit naturally moves through your digestive tract very quickly, imparting its cleansing power, its energy, and its load of nutrients and fiber. But it requires a cleared pathway—an empty stomach—in order to accomplish this efficiently. Fruit consumed after a meal simply sits around on top of the meal in your stomach. Here it begins to spoil. This spoilage causes gas and bloating and interferes with the proper digestion of the rest of your meal. This is especially true for sizable meals that are high in protein, which takes longer to digest. Additionally, if you happen to have an overpopulation of bad or unhealthy bacteria in your digestive tract (a common problem), you'll be making their day, because they thrive (grow in numbers, by the billions) in this type of environment. For your digestive health, your general health, and your weight control, eating fruit after meals is a big no-no all around.
For these same reasons, fruit juice and any sugary drinks are also big troublemakers when included with meals. Additionally, liquids in general, including water, will dilute the potent digestive juices that are so necessary for the digestive tract to do its "breaking-it-all-down" work. The digestive process will be hindered. A sip or two of room-temperature or warm water is okay. Cold drinks, however, can halt the release of stomach acid (hydrochloric acid, or HCl), stopping digestion in its tracks. Then the subsequent chain of digestive events may also be interrupted. Drink most of your liquids between meals and limit your ingestion of liquids within half an hour of a meal.
Desserts are troublesome for the obvious reasons but are particularly perilous when eaten after a meal. Like fruit, they disrupt the digestive process of the meal you've just eaten, as the sugars begin mixing in, causing spoilage, putrefaction, and the release of toxins. To make matters worse, unless you have particularly healthy and robust digestion, the meal probably won't be moving along anytime soon. More time to rot. In such a case, you may find that the whole mess sets up camp, staying well into the night, wreaking havoc, and resulting in no sleep for you. Then you're left with the inevitable hangover—brain fog and lethargy in the morning. Next comes the convenience eating, and then come the sugar and coffee cravings. Oh, what a vicious cycle it is!
Can it be any mistake that STRESSED is DESSERTS spelled backward?—Unknown
Although there are more food-combining rules, I've covered the ones that are most common and, in my view, most helpful for weight loss. Food combining is a relatively new technique designed for today's digestive systems as they face new challenges. Back in the day, people ate real food—nature-made, not tampered with, free from artificial and chemical additives, etc.—in sensible quantities. Unfortunately, this is too often not the case for many people today. Before the age of prescription and over-the-counter medications—both of which can also affect your digestive and intestinal condition and environment—most people likely had strong, healthy digestive systems better suited to handling more complex food combinations. This doesn't imply that everyone now has compromised digestion. Your body will usually let you know, in one way or another, if that's what you have. Your body is also capable of telling you whether you're either eating the wrong combinations of food or just simply eating the wrong food. Gas, bloating, chronic stomachaches, and feeling tired and heavy after a meal are just a few of the signs your body may use to inform you about its digestive challenges.
Despite this condition being relatively underdiagnosed, a reported one-quarter of US adults experience dyspepsia, a.k.a. indigestion. Unfortunately, the hundreds of drugstore and natural products on the market aimed at bringing relief to symptoms of indigestion do nothing to address the root cause of the problem, so the relief is only temporary. This tip can help those who struggle with weight and/or digestive issues to attack the root of their problem. By not covering up the symptoms, they can address the true cause and achieve a long-term solution. (Tip #3 and Tip #5 also apply here.)
If you're not ready for food combining, at least keep your meals simple to improve their digestibility. Such a meal could include one protein, one carbohydrate, and some vegetables—for example, fish, rice, broccoli, and a green salad.
Robert, in his mid-forties, was advised by his doctor to lose fifteen to twenty pounds for the sake of his health. The plan was to keep him off the road that leads to high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart troubles. He loved food, had little self-control, and was developing a protruding belly. By practicing simple food-combining techniques and cutting out any unhealthy, high-calorie snacking, he dropped the weight in just six weeks. His pants fit him better, and the storm in his stomach calmed down. He had more energy to draw on and was generally a happier and healthier guy.
BALANCE YOUR BLOOD SUGAR—LIMIT REFINED GRAINS, SUGARS, AND TRIPLE THREATS
Get ready, this is a biggie! Let's start with grains.
Opting for whole grains in place of refined grains is vital to making your weight-loss goals a reality. When grain (e.g., wheat) is refined (e.g., white flour), it is substantially stripped of nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fiber, and oil. Typically, commercial cookies, muffins, donuts, cakes, crackers, white breads, buns, and bagels are not only high in unhealthy fat and refined sugar but also contain mostly white flour. A triple threat!
All grains (carbohydrates) eventually break down into sugar. This may sound bad and cause you to wonder why anyone would eat grain, whole or refined, at all. The truth is, contrary to popular belief, sugar is not the devil. Sugar is actually fuel. Just as a car requires gas to operate, you require sugar. But before you go out and eat a chocolate donut for fuel, there's a bit more to the sugar story that you need to hear.
There are good and bad sugars. The good ones give you energy, whereas the bad ones deplete you of energy. The difference between good and bad sources of sugar lies almost entirely in how quickly they are absorbed into the bloodstream. Refined grain, existing in the most basic or simple form a carbohydrate can take, converts to sugar almost immediately in the body. With no digestive breakdown required, sugar is dumped into your bloodstream all at once. The result is high blood sugar, a.k.a. a blood-sugar spike. Although the immediate results may be pleasurable, the inevitable blood-sugar drop that follows is not pleasurable in the least. Symptoms include fatigue, low mood, irritability, anxiety, sugar cravings, and coffee cravings, just to name a few. Sound familiar? And if that's not enough scary symptom news, here's the weight-gain clincher. People who regularly consume refined grain (unless they're very active and/or burn off energy at a high metabolic rate) consume more energy than their bodies can utilize. Simply put, unused energy is stored as fat.
Whole grains, in contrast, contain vitamins and fiber (in the outer layer) and oils (in the germ) and exist in a complex structure. Whole grains, therefore, take longer to break down and digest. As a result, they release their energy gradually, in sensible doses, keeping it and you going longer. With the slower release, the body has a better chance of using the energy up, not storing it as fat, and remains satisfied longer. With refined-grain consumption, you soon find yourself requiring another dose of quick energy (sugar) after the crash. This is where cravings and reaching for the sweet, refined, and convenient snack or treat (chocolate bar, donut, scone, cake, etc.) enter the picture. And so the cycle continues.
Linda, a middle-aged friend who had been on the heavier side most of her adult life, with a few new pounds joining the journey each year, visited her doctor recently. The diagnosis was high blood pressure. She was also informed that she was obese and needed to lose twenty pounds. Her doctor advised her to eat whole grains, nothing white and refined in her diet. She already knew this to be a wise idea, but she really loved white bread and pasta. Although she wasn't pleased with the additional pounds over the years, she had previously said that she was simply bigger boned and was taking after her mother, accepting her weight as genetically determined. That was until the visit to the doctor. Thanks to the high-blood-pressure scare, Linda dived right into the new way of eating, and the pounds started falling off. "There is no turning back," she said. "I've never felt so good." She has actually also come to love the whole grains and has subsequently begun disappearing on us. I tell her, "Linda, we're losing you. You're missing part of your arms, but it suits you, you look great."
How can a nation be great if its bread tastes like Kleenex?—Julia Child
Now let's take a closer look at how the body achieves blood-sugar balance. As you eat, your pancreas is constantly releasing insulin. This is the hormone responsible for regulating the amount of sugar in your blood. When your cells require more energy, insulin helps sugar (energy) to enter your cells. If this doesn't happen, you die. When you too regularly intake more energy than your body can use, you enter into a state of perpetual high blood sugar. In time, the insulin receptors in your cells become tired of this constant battle and cease proper functioning. As a result, the body's ability to regulate blood-sugar levels can become less efficient. This condition is called insulin resistance and is the start of metabolic syndrome (previously known as syndrome x), the precursor to type 2 diabetes.
There is much more that your body must do to bring about the proper balance of glucose in your blood, but in a few words, when things get this far out of hand and you regularly have too much insulin (a fat-storing hormone) in your bloodstream, you begin to gain weight, especially in the midsection. What's more, it is believed that increased body fat makes it harder for the body to use insulin in the correct way. It's fair to say that when you reach this place, health and circulatory trouble (e.g., heart disease and hypertension) and other diseases like diabetes can be waiting right around the corner.
When it comes to grains, opt for brown rice, spelt, barley, millet, quinoa, oats, buckwheat, kamut, amaranth, and whole wheat. Choose manufactured and baked products that list 100 percent whole grain and are low in sweeteners and bad fats. You can also eat fresh fruit for a nutritious, fibrous energy source.
If, however, after taking up this whole-grain regimen you find weight loss unsuccessful (assuming you're not scarfing down ice cream and chips), you could try eliminating grain altogether for a few weeks, just to see what happens. Some nutritional pundits believe that for some people, any grain can be responsible for weight gain or difficulties with weight loss. For some, eliminating all grain may be worth a try, especially at dinnertime. Your diet will then consist of a good range of proteins—legumes, nuts and seeds, and lean animal products—plus fruits and vegetables. Another option is to first try substituting some of the other available grains for those you are currently eating. Remember that diversity is important and that each person is digestively unique. Everyone needs to figure out what works best for his or her own body.
Note: In the absence of carbohydrates, the body will convert protein (or fat) into energy. While this may sound good, it doesn't mean you should regularly depend on protein for energy. Here's why. The body's first priority is drawing energy from food. Low-carb/high-protein diets force the body to use a different method of transforming protein into available energy. Carried out long-term, this method is not recommended because it can create its own set of health problems. In the case of extreme food restriction, the body will go so far as to convert muscle into energy for survival, a.k.a. wasting away.
Carbohydrates are also vital when it comes to mood balance. A lot of people don't know that depression is one of the most common symptoms associated with strict avoidance of carbohydrates. For many, their appetite can increase when they become depressed or are dealing with lowered mood. All of a sudden, as is so often the case, a dieting strategy can send them right back into the emotional eating pattern that got them into this mess in the first place.
Okay, let's move on to the sweet stuff. You now know about the problems associated with eating refined grains, which don't even taste sweet, so you can imagine what the sweet-tasting stuff does to your weight and overall health! Chocolate bar manufacturers want you to believe that their products are the answer to all your energy needs. It's true that they would be an answer if you asked, "What kind of snack should I choose for increased weight, dysglycemia (high/low blood sugar), and insane cravings?" The same applies to other triple threats like refined bakery goods—danishes, cookies, muffins, donuts, cakes, etc.—and many breakfast cereals.
James, a thirty-six-year-old graphic designer, would regularly regularly pick up a breakfast muffin and coffee while heading off to work. Without fail his energy crashed at 11:00 a.m. on the dot. His wife finally pinned him down at home for a breakfast of oatmeal with nuts, raisins, and a little honey. James soon noticed that his morning energy level increased and sustained until one o'clock in the afternoon without the crash. He also had better bowel function and within a month had lost ten pounds!
As far as desserts are concerned, when you're trying to lose weight, it's a good idea to "just say no." Your body surely doesn't need those extra hits of sugars and poor-quality fats, which give desserts their high count of empty calories. These treats are simply not worth it. Guilt quickly creeps in, the temporary pleasure vanishes, and your weight-loss goal is pushed further away while you maintain the vicious and addictive cycle of eating sugar. The more you have, the more you want! When you reach your goal, you can have an occasional treat with impunity.
Excerpted from TOP TEN BEST-EVER HEALTHY WEIGHT-LOSS TIPS by ELLE ERIKSSON. Copyright © 2014 Elle Eriksson, RHN. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Tip 1 Keep Your Food Combinations Simple, 1,
Tip 2 Balance Your Blood Sugar—Limit Refined Grains, Sugars, and Triple Threats, 5,
Tip 3 Chew Your Food and Boost the Enzymes, 13,
Tip 4 Eat Healthy Fats and Oils and Avoid Hazardous Ones, 18,
Tip 5 Detoxify! Take Good Care of Your Liver and Remove Your Trash, 24,
Tip 6 Mind the Calories—Don't Just Count Them, 30,
Tip 7 Exercise and Build Muscle Mass, 35,
Tip 8 Eat Less Meat—More Beans, Please, 42,
Tip 9 Consider Cutting Wheat and/or Dairy, 52,
Tip 10 Eat Only When Hungry and Only Enough to Feel Satisfied, 62,
Bonus Tip: How's Your Thyroid Gland?, 66,
Checklist: 23 Different Things You Can Do, 67,
21-Day Food/Weight/Fitness Journal, 69,
Recommended Packaged and Canned Foods—Nonperishable, Refrigerated, or Frozen, 91,
A List of Red-Flag Ingredients to Avoid, 95,
More on Organic, Fair Trade, Local, and Gardening, 97,
A Few Words Concerning GMOs, 99,