Everyone is conscious about the extra pounds they put on during the holiday season, while some throw caution to the wind and wait to make their New Year resolutions. There are ways to start eating healthy now rather than wait until after the holidays. You can enjoy holiday treats while keeping your fitness up with the right food choices. We all know that exercise is very important and not to be neglected, but what you eat will account for about 70% of what you look like, how you feel and the state of your overall health. Healthy food choices and alternatives are plentiful and make it very easy to eat a healthy diet without a lot of sacrifice.
There are ways you can have the advantage over weight such as knowing what good snacks to have around the house, as well as the frequency and time of day you consume them. Here are several key things you can do.
Water is key. Drink enough water; a minimum of 32 to 64 ounces daily. When you are losing weight, you are releasing toxins that are held within the fat cells. To help flush out these toxins, you need to have lots of water. Remember, the more water you drink, the less your body will retain, making you look even thinner.
Preparation helps keep you from choosing the wrong foods. Prepare your meals in advance. Choose a day out of the week when you have a few hours and make all of your protein, vegetable and carbohydrate meals. Portion them out into proper serving sizes and put them in the fridge and freezer. This will stop you from grabbing unhealthy options on the run.
Balance your food groups. You need a balance of protein, carbohydrate and fat in your diet. Carbohydrates are the staple in any diet. The reason they are considered bad or fattening is the confusion on what a carb is. We often think of them as crackers, pasta, chips and cakes, or in other words, processed food, but carbohydrates consist of vegetables and fruit as well. White and processed carbs, also called simple carbs, affect your system the same way sugar does – they cause you to store fat. Healthier choices are called complex carbs. They take longer to digest and will not be immediately stored as fat. It comes down to making better choices and control portion size when consuming carbs.
Some healthy alternatives are kamut pasta (found in the organic section of the grocery store), brown rice or basmati rice, whole oat groats (not instant or rolled), stone-ground tortillas with salsa, quinoa, barley, and buckwheat. When looking for some sweetness, choose root vegetables such as yams, carrots and sweet potato. Use natural sugars such as real maple syrup, Stevia, organic cane or turbinate sugar.
Fat always gets a bad rap, but not all fat is bad! There are different types of fat; some are bad including saturated, and trans-fat. These are what you want to stay away from. They are generally found in fatty cuts of meat, dairy products, and some processed food. Good fats are monosaturated and polysaturated fat. These are not only good for you, they are actually essential. Called essential fatty acids (EFA’s); because our body needs them and can’t make them on their own. They can be found in foods such as, nuts, coconut, hemp and olive oils, flax seed and avocados. Beware of ‘fat-free’ labels. These products usually they double up on the sugar to make up for the absence of fat.
Protein is vital to every healthy diet, It supports muscle and is especially important for the health of your hair, nails, skin and organs. Protein can be found in meat, poultry, fish, nuts, seeds, beans, dairy and eggs. Some good protein choices are skinless chicken breast, omega free-range whole eggs or egg whites, baked or steamed fish (especially salmon, good fat), and extra lean ground chicken with no more than 1.5 grams fat. Vegetarians can get quality protein from soy products like tofu, nuts seeds and beans. Other options available are soygart, veggie burgers, soy cheese, and plant-based protein powder.
We all crave a snack from time to time so make sure you have healthy alternatives. If you are planning on removing the chips and brownies from your cupboard only until you lose the weight with the intention of putting them back again once you’ve reached your goal; you will be in for an unpleasant trip of yo-yo dieting. Instead, find healthy snacks that you enjoy to keep in your cupboards all the time, and indulge in a brownie on a special occasion. If it’s not in the house, you’ll be less likely to snack on it and ruin all of your hard work. Healthy snacks to have around the house are almonds, organic fruit, crisp mints, rice cakes, raw fiber fruit bars, and low sugar granola bars. When you crave chocolate, make it 70% dark chocolate. Dates, raisins and other dried fruit can squash your sugar crave. Keep pre-cut veggies with low-fat dip in the house, as well as grain tortilla chips and salsa, or try natural almond butter spread on celery sticks.
Developing healthy habits make the difference. When snacking, never eat out of a bag or a box. When you do this you cannot pay attention to your portion size and before you know it, you’ve eaten half of the contents. If you put what you want to eat in a bowl, you’ll know how much you’re eating and be less likely to eat unconsciously. The time of day you eat also affects your metabolism. People with high metabolism’s burn calories rapidly; people with slower metabolism’s burn calories at a slower rate. The good news is, there are ways to speed up your metabolism naturally. One of the ways to do this is eating small meals throughout the day. Eat 5-6 small meals a day spaced out 3 to 4 hours. This will continually boost your metabolism throughout the day resulting in more calories burned.
Make the commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Clean out your cupboards and replace them with healthier versions of what was there before. Donate any unopened unhealthy snacks to a food bank so you don’t feel committed to eating them. Find a form of exercise you enjoy. If you enjoy it, you’ll stick to it. Involve a friend to exercise with, go for a walk or join a gym with. Allow at least two months for the program to work. It takes that long to develop a habit. If you fall along the way, don’t beat yourself up and use it as an excuse to binge. Reward yourself. Go out and buy a new outfit or have a spa day.
If you make being healthy a way of life, you will be less likely to obsess, more likely to succeed and guaranteed to feel better about yourself.