Ever see one of those online, side panel ads that say, “Tips for a tiny belly,” or something like that? As we know, they are an enticement to get us to click the link which takes us to what looks like an authentic news article, that is promoting a brand of diet something. With the US leading the world in obesity, it is not hard to entice someone to follow through on this ad, and others like it, but in truth, we just need to be reminded of the most basic and common sense guidelines to follow, to get us back on track, and to help us stay there. Here are a few:
1. Drink water
Drink water throughout the day, preferably clean, spring water, and at least one liter a day.
Anyone who enjoys drinking water, and/or who drinks at least a liter of water a day, will tell you, they simply feel better. Water does not mean, liquids. Water is water, and drinking water is not for everyone, but, if you can, drink at least one liter a day. The source and quality of water is a topic that could be written about for days. Try to have your water be as clean and pure as possible. The best water is filtered, ionized, structured water, and very few of us have access to this kind of water, so, do the best you can. Try to filter your own water, and if you can, try to find a travel water filter to take with you on trips, or to the office.
2. Cut out the sugar
When I was growing up, we knew what had sugar and what didn’t. As such, our parents monitored our sugar intake. In my house, soda (pop) was a treat, as were desserts and snacks (Ho-Hos). We were not allowed to eat the pink ones – the Snow Balls. My Mom just knew that fake color could not be good in any way, but today, sugar is hidden in nearly every processed food, and sugar = empty calories, at best. This link covers all of the deleterious health effects of sugar, and they are quite serious, but, common sense would allow that eating sugar on a daily basis, is not good for one’s health, nor one’s waist line. If you want to be more lean, cut out the sugar. http://macrobiotics.co.uk/sugar.htm
3. Reduce refined and processed carbs
As with sugar, processed carbs are not delivering much in the way of nutrition, other than empty calories, and as with sugar, most Americans are eating an unnecessary excess of processed carbs by way of bread, muffins, pasta, cookies, and snack foods: potato chips; pretzels, etc. Consuming carbs in this manner will provide little-to-no nutritional benefit, and a lot of empty calories. Again, this is not rocket science, but common sense would allow that if you want to lose weight, or reduce your waist line, then, you need to cut out the refined and processed carbs, or reduce their intake substantially. However, if you want carbs – need carbs – respect carbs, there are many ways to get good carbs into your diet – they’re called whole grains and legumes. But here’s the trick – you need to properly soak, and even slightly sprout these ‘carbs’ to derive their highest nutrient potential. Yes, sprout. The sprouting process transforms the carbohydrates in grains and legumes into simple sugars, that are more bio-available, and easily digestible. You can read more about sprouting in Ann Wigmore’s book, aptly named, The Sprouting Book.
4. Consume good fats; reduce bad fats
Yes, that’s correct, to reduce your waist line, you need to increase your good fat consumption. That’s right, I’ll say it again – to reduce your waist line, you need to increase your good fat consumption. So, what is a good fat? Anytime, I need to further understand fats, I refer to the website of Udo Erasmus: http://www.udoerasmus.com/FAQ/FAQ1_en.htm This is an excerpt from his site, in regard to fats and weight management: Omega-6 slightly and omega-3 more effectively help reduce fat production in the body. They also increase fat burning and heat production in the body, and shift the body from burning glucose to burning fats. Saturated, monounsaturated, and trans- fatty acids do not help to manage weight. Sugar triggers increased fat production in the body. Starch can also lead to overweight.
As you can see, he also points to sugar and starch intake, as contributors to fat production and weight gain. He does state that saturated fats do not help to manage weight gain; however, there is some debate about that, and also debate about the benefits of saturated fats, in general. For example, coconut oil is approximately 92% saturated fat, and all you need do is Google “coconut oil health benefits,” and you will get numerous links to look into, and to help you better understand how and why coconut oil is good for you. Here is an excerpt from one site with regard to coconut oil and weight loss: Coconut oil is very useful in reducing weight. It contains short and medium-chain fatty acids that help in taking off excessive weight. It is also easy to digest and it helps in healthy functioning of the thyroid and enzymes systems. Further, it increases the body metabolism by removing stress on pancreases, thereby burning out more energy and helping obese and overweight people reduce their weight. Hence, people living in tropical coastal areas, who eat coconut oil daily as their primary cooking oil, are normally not fat, obese or overweight.
You can also read more about fats on my blog post: https://theecochef.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/about-nefas-non-esterified-fatty-acids-and-heart-health/
Again, just pure and simple logic; to burn calories, we need to exercise. Now, by exercise, this does not mean you have to become a body builder, or be a slave to spinning. Each and every person needs to find the form of exercise that makes them feel good, where if they do it regularly, they will continue to enjoy it. I used to be a big runner. While training for the last NYC ING Marathon, I not only injured my Achilles tendons, but I found the training to be boring. Now, my goals are in the half marathon range, and I enjoy mixing up my forms of exercise, from walking a lot, to roller blading, to running, to yoga, and weight training. I find I need the diversity to maintain my interest. The point here, is that we do not need to follow whatever exercise trend is the sexiest, if we truly don’t enjoy doing it. Choose a form of exercise that makes you feel good, and makes you happy, and if need be, consult with an exercise expert on what form of exercise might be best for you. That could be a personal trainer, to a yoga or gyrotronics instructor. Or, it could even be a dance instructor. Find what works for you.
Eating and living in a more alkalizing way has proven health benefits that would be too long to cover here, but suffice to say, many people have cured themselves of adverse health conditions by alkalizing. Simply put, alkalizing means to remove and/or reduce the things that are acidifying, such as: meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, sugar (including fruit), grains, legumes (except lentils), caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and stress. Yes, it’s quite a list, is it not? And, yes, for most, it’s nearly impossible to eradicate all of these things, unless, of course, you are ill, and need a radical intervention, but this list is good to use as a guideline. The more you eat alkalizing foods (plant based), the more you will reduce the acid forming ones listed here, and your body will thank you for it. Your skin and hair will glow, your joints will ‘creek’ less, and you will undoubtedly have a smaller waist line, to boot. To read more about the numerous health benefits of alkalizing, check out, The PH Miracle For Weight Loss, by Robert O. Young, PhD, and Shelly Redford Young.
7. Eat less
Again, not rocket science, here, but studies have shown that it is healthier to eat enough to be satiated, but not to eat until we are full. That’s going to be different for everyone, and someone trying to lose weight is going to have a different plan to follow, but the overriding principle here is, moderation. This is why I think some restaurants (diners) should offer their food in S-M-L. I am not going to eat an omelet the size of an entire plate, but a guy who weighs 250 lbs. will. So, in a country where everything is big, I know it’s not easy to invoke moderation, but maybe that’s why we have to-go containers. (this is an excerpt from my blog post: https://theecochef.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/lets-not-overthink-things-the-8020-rule/ )
8. Reduce alcohol consumption
This goes in tandem with alkalizing, and reducing sugar and carbs, for alcohol, is mostly, empty calories. For those who can drink, and who enjoy a glass of wine, or beer, or happy hour on a Friday, you know you are consuming empty calories and you know if you want to maintain your weight, or lose weight, you have to either eliminate the alcohol, or reduce it. As with exercise, and eating less, the amount to consume or not consume, will vary from person-to-person. Naturally, if you consume no alcohol, you’re ahead of the game, but I have friends who don’t drink alcohol, yet consume diet soda, or sweetened drinks all day long. That’s not going to help, either. As with anything, choose your poison and your passion, and seek to moderate in a way that works for you.
9. Eliminate fast food
Yes, eliminate. Those are strong words, but if you truly want to be lean and mean, you have got to eliminate fast food. Why? Well, they are laced with so many additives and chemicals, we would all need a PhD to understand how that affects us, but we do know these chemicals cause weight gain, including the diet drinks. Every component to a fast food meal has been highly processed with heat and chemicals, which transform food into food-like-substances (credit to Michael Pollan for that term). These substances cannot be broken down by our bodies, but more importantly, they are often a form of Excitotoxin. Excitotoxins stimulate the brain to want to eat more, and so, guess what? You eat more. But, in addition, Excitotoxins have been proven to cause weight gain, on a calorie restricted diet. I covered this in more depth in my blog article: https://theecochef.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/msg-free-glutamic-acid-and-weight-gain/ In addition, I highly recommend the book, Excitotoxins The Taste That Kills, by Dr. Russell Blaylock – an expert on this topic.
10. Eat more lacto-fermented foods
This is an area of passion for me, and again, there is not enough time here to delve into it fully, but consuming lacto-fermented foods is vital to improved health. It isn’t really like the other suggestions here, for it isn’t necessarily common sense for us to choose lacto-fermented foods to lose weight, or maintain our weight. That’s because we have gotten so far away from what these foods are and what they have to offer in terms of improved health and immunity. Sally Fallon and Mary Enig cover this topic in great, great detail, in their book, Nourishing Traditions, as does Sandor Ellix Katz in his book, Wild Fermentation. In its simplest terms, by consuming lacto-fermented foods and beverages, we aid our bodies in proper assimilation and elimination, by introducing beneficial microorganisms into our digestive system. There are many reasons why we all carry around a few extra pounds, but for many, it has to do with an imbalance in our intestinal flora, and if we balance it, so many other things correct themselves, including our weight.
So, these tips are not rocket science, just a combination of common sense, and some good research. The points above overlap and intersect, because they are all basically pointing back to the same course to follow: reduce and/or eliminate the foods that man made, and increase and/or introduce the foods found in nature, in their whole and natural form. By doing so, you will live long, and prosper.
Sharon McGrail, THE ECO CHEF