Blood sugar control
In order for your body to be able to lose weight, your blood sugar levels should fluctuate slowly and evenly throughout the day. High blood sugar activates the adrenal glands and the stress response, suppressing normal functions involved in weight loss.
As you wake up, the blood sugar is low because you haven’t eaten since the previous evening. Eating a sugary or a high carbohydrate breakfast such as pancakes or a sweetened yogurt with granola will raise the blood sugar quickly and very high. Within an hour, the blood sugar will drop rapidly to a low level, causing fatigue, a drop in energy, and lower mental acuteness.
On the other hand, a high protein breakfast such as veggie omelet or a mushroom spinach tofu scramble will elevate the blood sugar slowly. The protein, fiber, and the healthy fat will sustain the blood glucose at a healthy range for up to three hours after meal. Thus, eating a small meal containing protein, healthy fats, and lots of fiber every three hours will keep the blood sugar levels within a healthy range optimizing energy levels and mental capacity.
Do not skip meals. Skipped meals send the body into starvation mode hindering weight loss. Without regular meals, the body is resistant to burning fat in case it will be needed for energy later on.
When eating frequent meals hunger subsides and the need for a large meal to satiate oneself ceases. One serving of protein per meal is substantial. For example: 1 egg, a chicken drumstick, a small tilapia fillet, ½ cup of beans or peas each equal to one serving of protein. Visually, the size of a small palm (no fingers) or a deck of cards would equal to one serving of protein. The rest of the meal should be vegetables. Dark leafy greens, cruciferous, and most above ground vegetables may be eaten in unlimited amounts. Root vegetables and gourds are part of a healthy diet but should be eaten with serving sizes in mind due to high sugar content. Roughly 1-2 servings (1/2 -1 cup) per day is enough. Potatoes and corn should be considered starches rather than vegetables. High carbohydrate foods and foods rich in starches should be limited to 1-2 servings per day. A slice of bread, ½ cup of brown rice, ¼ bagel, ¼ cup whole wheat pasta, one small potato, 1 medium fruit or 1 cup of berries, a half of cob of corn; each represent one serving size of carbs/starches.
It is always better to choose foods closest to their natural state with the least amount of processing. For example, choose roasted chicken over cold cuts and choose home-made roasted chicken over store-bought rotisserie version. Choose brown rice over white rice, and it is better to have whole rice rather than a brown rice cracker. Choose real fruit and vegetables over juice; fresh or frozen produce instead of canned products. Choose real foods not their substitutes. Do not opt for fake meat; rather, treat yourself to a small and healthy serving of the real thing. Usually, “meatless” meat products are full of MSG and other unhealthy additives. Pick real butter over artery-clogging hydrogenated fats in shortening or margarine. For a yet healthier option, choose refrigerated extra virgin olive oil (it will solidify at the low temperature and produce the same texture as butter) or virgin and unrefined coconut oil. Remember that color and flavor make a difference too. The more colorful or aromatic a fruit or a vegetable is the more nutritious it is. Phytonutrients are the source of vivid shades and strong aromas. For example, iceberg lettuce, the lightest of lettuces is the least nutritious while red-leaf lettuce with its dark green and red shades has a much greater nutritional value. Avoid white foods, such as white potatoes, white rice, white flours, and white sugar. Unless accompanied by a strong scent and flavor such as in garlic and onions, white color is the signal for no or minimal nutrition.
Our body is more than 50 % water. Each and every cell requires adequate amounts of water for optimum function. Dehydration slows gut function, causes constipation, and stagnation of toxins. Dehydration actually lowers the liver’s capacity to convert fat into energy. It is best to drink 8 cups of unsweetened, non-caffeinated beverages per day. Remember, caffeine is a diuretic, so regular tea or coffee actually depletes the body of fluid rather than replenishes it. For every cup of caffeinated beverage, replace lost fluid by drinking 2 more cups of water, herbal tea, or other caffeine-free beverage. To keep things interesting, try adding a few cucumber slices to your water; a squeeze of lemon, lime, or orange; or pour boiling water over apple slices, cool, and enjoy a refreshing drink.
Sleep is essential for life. You can survive without food for a while, but not without sleep. Numerous research studies have demonstrated the importance of sleep for overall well-being as well as optimal mental, endocrine, immune function, and weight loss. Lack of sleep or its deficiency promotes pro-inflammatory response and general stress on all organs and systems; it activates the adrenals and raises cortisol levels, promoting stress and hindering weight loss. We also detoxify during sleep and without proper clearance weight loss is difficult, if at all possible. Commit to at least 7 hours of sleep per day. Try meditation and visualization to promote sleep. Elevating legs helps to relax, as well as deep slow breaths taken through the nose and exhaled through the mouth. Chamomile or peppermint tea before bed and a few lavender essential oil drops on the pillow may serve as useful addition to a bed time routine.
Stress is almost as inevitable a part of our lives today as getting wet in the rain when caught without an umbrella. As mentioned previously, stress activates the vicious cycle of increased adrenal output, increased cortisol and blood sugar levels, resistance to weight loss, and weight gain especially around the waist. Increased weight promotes increased inflammation, and cortisol levels. Everyone is stressed to a lesser or greater degree, so it is our duty, with our health in mind, to decrease or avoid stress when possible; and learn and practice stress-relieving techniques and activities. Avoid depressing media news; choose to turn on music or a hobby channel instead. Listen to audiobooks while driving to take the edge off stressful traffic jams. Take a few minutes to appreciate the weather, trees, sky around you before going inside or getting into the car. Think of something to be thankful for daily. Take up a hobby and enjoy it whenever time permits without regret of not having more time. Always seek out a positive side to any situation. Whenever feeling yourself getting extremely stressed out, think if the cause of your stress is truly worth your health in the grander scheme of things. Most often you will realize how insignificant it may be.
The quote “Move to Live and Live to Move” is very accurate. Any and all movement is beneficial to the body. Activation of muscles (any movement) improves brain function; physical activity of any intensity allows for proper blood sugar metabolism, bypassing insulin involvement; regular exercise promotes health and weight loss. Only 30 minutes of daily exercise along with a healthy lifestyle can improve the quality of your life and significantly lower risks for chronic diseases. Cut the risk of stroke in half. Lower the risk of Diabetes type II by whopping 93%. Reduce the risk of cancer by over a third. These are just a few examples of how exercise and an improved lifestyle can change your life for the better and how you may acquire the gift of health (Earl S. Ford, Manuela M. Bergmann, Kröger, Anja Schienkiewitz, Cornelia Weikert, & Heiner Boeing, 2009). Incorporate movement into your daily routine. Park farthest from entrances and walk the distance. Take stairs instead of an elevator. Stretch every 30 minutes during sedentary activities. Massage your fingers and palms, stretch toes, rotate feet and hands whenever possible. Fight laziness and make that extra trip upstairs or down to the basement when needed. TV occupies a lot of our “down time” nowadays. Forgo remote control and get up to change TV channels or adjust volume. Stand instead of sitting or lying down while in front of the set. Put an exercise machine in front of your TV to exercise while you watch or just do stretching and some weight training for the duration of your favorite show. The more active your life is the healthier you will be.