Lose Weight and Inches in Simple Steps

blue tape measuring on clear glass square weighing scale

While it is not easy to lose weight, there are several simple steps to make it less complicated. The trick is sticking to your plan. Once you see results it gets easier to keep going.

Control Fat Storage to Lose Weight

Fat storage is directly linked to two hormones; insulin and cortisol.  Insulin is controlled by the food you eat, and cortisol is controlled by the amount of stress in your life. Increases in either or both of these hormones cause your body to store fat. Unfortunately, poor food choices and stress often occur together, and like the chicken and the egg story, which one comes first is debatable….

Eating the wrong carbohydrates  (sugar, bread, pasta, cereal, crackers, processed snacks, etc) causes increases in insulin in your body.  Eating good carbohydrates (quinoa, fruit, vegetables, bread with sprouted grains) controls your blood sugar and insulin levels.

To help keep your insulin level in check and keep your body in a fat-burning zone, follow these simple steps:

Read food labels

Avoid processed and packaged foods like cereals, muffins, chips, crackers, genetically modified corn, soy and wheat, hydrogenated oils, canola oil, corn syrup, margarine, sugar, and artificial sweeteners.

These products not only increase your blood sugar and insulin levels, but they are also treated as foreign toxins in your body, causing inflammation in many organs.  Avoiding these products will not only make you lose weight, but other health issues such as eczema, asthma, arthritis, will improve too.

Stick to the outer aisles in grocery stores

The outside aisles or perimeter of the stores contain the fresh produce, meat, dairy etc, while the inner aisles typically hold the bad stuff.

Clean out your kitchen pantry

Get rid of any of the above items.

Reduce Stress to Lose Weight

To control cortisol levels, try to reduce the stresses in your life by following these steps:

Get enough sleep

 Sleep deprivation stresses your body.  If you cannot get enough at night, try to sneak in a nap during the day, since even a short 30-minute nap is beneficial for you.

Get some, but not too much exercise

An exercise regime that is too strenuous will temporarily stress your body, causing a spike in your cortisol level.  Your exercise regime does not have to be complicated or expensive.  Go for a brisk walk every day, or at least every second day.

Surround yourself with positive people.  

Negative people are stressors you do not need.

Spend more time doing the things you like to do.

Take up a new hobby or rediscover an old one.

Other Points to Remember

Good fats burn body fat

Avoid margarine, canola, and hydrogenated oils.  Instead choose eggs, olive oil, avocado, almonds, coconut oil, and cold-water fish.

Stay hydrated  

Dehydration is your enemy! Drink lots of water.  Carry a water bottle around with you while running errands, chauffeuring your kids, and especially while exercising.   Add a splash of lemon juice to your water to liven up the taste.

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Different Fats: Get the Skinny on Fats

different fats, get the skinny on them

There are all kinds of fat in our foods.  Trans fat, hydrogenated fat, partially hydrogenated fat, saturated fat, unsaturated fat, monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, etc. Learn the difference between these fats to trim the pounds and inches from your body and get healthy.

Trans or Hydrogenated Fats:

  • oils treated by a hydrogenation process to be harder at room temperature and increase the shelf life of products that contain them
  • snack foods such as cookies, cakes, crackers, chips
  • salad dressings, margarine, and other foods made with partially hydrogenated oils or shortening
  • raise bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and lowers good cholesterol (HDL) levels

Saturated:

  • solid at room temperature
  • raise cholesterol levels
  • mostly animal foods such as meat, milk, cheese
  • tropical oils such as coconut oil, cocoa butter, palm oil, palm kernel oil.
  • chicken and fish have less saturated fat than red meat

Unsaturated:

  • liquid at room temperature, mostly from a plant source
  • lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels
  • Monounsaturated: avocado, nuts, seeds (almonds, hazelnuts, pecans), and canola, olive, and peanut oils
  • Polyunsaturated: omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids from fish such as salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel, trout, and tuna, walnuts and flaxseeds, as well as corn, safflower, flaxseed, sunflower, soybean, and sesame oils

Omega Fats

Although a ratio of 1:1 between omega 6s and omega 3s is the ideal balance to strive for, studies have shown modern diets to be as high as 16:1   This higher proportion of omega 6s is leading to the increase of many disease states within our modern societies including arthritis, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, and other inflammatory processes, as well as numerous types of cancer.

Omega 3s are crucial for our brain, hormone, and immune function,  good vision and hair, skin, cell, and tissue growth.  They are helpful in treating symptoms of lupus, asthma, osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, breast and colon cancers, and irritable bowel disease.  A deficiency in omega 3s can result in conditions such as depression and mood swings, poor memory, fatigue, poor circulation, dry skin, and more.

While omega 6s are helpful in treating the symptoms of arthritis, diabetic nerve pain, menopause, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, eczema, and even allergies, too much omega 6s can cause depression, dyslexia, obesity, hyperactivity, and other health problems.

Check out this post for lists on which foods contain Omega 3s and which contain Omega 6a

How Fats are Good for You

Fats are crucial for good health as they provide energy and facilitate the absorption of fat-soluble K, D, A, and E vitamins. They also aid in hormone production and cell growth, protect your internal organs and regulate your body temperature.  For these reasons, fats should account for 30% of your daily calories.

So, which ones are the best?  

Conclusions

Try to eat mostly unsaturated and use saturated fats sparingly, less than 10% of your daily calories.  Trans or hydrogenated versions should be avoided as much as possible. Avoid margarine, canola, and hydrogenated oils.  Instead choose eggs, olive oil, avocado, almonds, coconut oil, and cold-water fish.

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Digestive Systems, Keep Them Healthy!

Components of Digestive System

Research has shown that healthy, properly functioning digestive systems can alleviate many health issues. Weight control and fat loss, curbing sugar cravings, mood control, and more are easier to achieve if you look after your digestive system.

I knew this from my own experience with health issues over the years, but my personal observations were validated watching this video. Dr. Amy Lee is head of nutrition at Nucific. She starts off talking about unhealthy (contrary to popular belief) breakfast choices, then explains why these choices get you in trouble and how to change your habits.

She also states that food sensitivities are warning signs that digestive systems are not functioning properly, something that resonated strongly with me.

I have more time to watch these videos now that my garden business is (literally) under snow. Although they are marketing something at the end, I scroll through that part. I do find lots of informative, well-searched (I do check) fodder for thought though. In turn, this research translates to inspiration for my blog posts.

In case you have no desire to or don’t have time to watch the whole thing, I have summarized it for you…

Breakfast Choices Affect Digestive Systems

Breakfast is important, but what you choose to consume or offer your children to consume first thing in the morning is even more important.

Healthy breakfast choices are crucial to kickstart digestive systems for the day and keep them functioning properly. These three popular choices are bad ideas as they contain too much sugar in forms often difficult to recognize. High fructose corn syrup is the worst offender. It is present in many packaged, convenient breakfast (and other snack) foods.

  • yogurt (see clarification below)
  • wheat bread
  • cereal bars

Digestive Enzymes

Dr. Lee recommends physical activity plus the use of these three digestive enzymes to break down food properly. When this happens nutrients are distributed throughout our body and the waste eliminated.

  • amylase
  • bromelain
  • lipase

These enzymes are already present in our bodies but you can add to them with commercial supplements (pills) or foods such as:

  • Pineapple
  • Papaya
  • Mango
  • Honey
  • Bananas
  • Avocados
  • Kefir
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kiwifruit
  • Ginger
  • Asparagus
  • Kimchi
  • Kefir
Make Your Digestive System Work for You!

You know my preference. I’ve never been a proponent of pills. I also noticed that many of the foods listed above are ingredients in my customized morning smoothies, so are rarely absent from my fridge or freezer.

The Issue with Yogurt and Digestive Systems

While (some) yogurt does contain digestive enzymes or probiotics, read the labels as not all probiotic yogurts are created equal. Most contain so much sugar the benefit of the enzymes is diminished by the sugar content.

If yogurt is your thing, I’ve done the research for you. The healthiest yogurts were recently listed by Prevention Magazine. These contain more healthy digestive enzymes than sugar, with some vegan options making the list.

I choose yogurt drinks that contain 40% (5 gm per bottle) less sugar for my grandchildren. The tiny containers (nano) have spill-proof lids and come in many flavours. My grandkids all love them.

Make Your Digestive System Work for You!

Candida or Yeast Infections

Do you suffer from repeated yeast infections? Sugar in your diet may be to blame because yeast feeds on sugar, wreaking havoc on your digestive and blood systems.

Mood swings, lethargy, fatigue, bloating, joint pain, sugar cravings, eczema or rashes, weight gain, and recurrent yeast (urinary tract) infections, and inconsistent bathroom habits (diarrhea/constipation) can all be attributed to excessive sugar (and yeast production) in your diet.

Too Much Sugar is not Good for Digestive Systems

Once again, sugar is rearing its ugly side!

While bananas and mango contain digestive enzymes, they also contain a high amount of natural sugars, so beware of consuming too much of them. So do these foods:

  • gluten containing grains like wheat, rye, barley and spelt.
  • deli meats and farm-raised fish.
  • refined oils and fats such as canola, soybean, and sunflower oils or margarine.

Olestra, a Dangerous Fat Substitute

Another dangerous ingredient in many so-called “light” convenience foods is olestra (AKA olean), a fat substitute advertised to improve the healthiness of these foods with their fat-free claim. So dangerous in fact, olestra has been banned in many countries, since it was subsequently discovered to increase weight gain and gastrointestinal problems in its consumers.

That’s because our bodies are not equipped to identify fat substitutes or preservatives, so store the calories as fat instead of converting them to useable energy.

Lifestyle Approach vs Dieting

A quote from the video above states:

the digestive system makes energy or fat, NOT both!

By controlling how you feed it, you are the only one that can decide whether your digestive system makes energy to burn or stores fat. Choose a lifestyle approach instead of a fad diet to help your digestive system work for you.

You should soon discover that this choice is much easier to maintain.

Avocado Keeps the Doctor away

avocado

Move over apples, the new health axiom is “an avocado a day keeps the doctor away.”

avocado
pictures courtesy of Pexels

How an Avocado is Good for You

Even though a medium-sized avocado adds around 250 calories to your daily intake and 24 grams of fat, the fat is predominantly the “good for your heart” monounsaturated variety.  Avocados also lower our “bad cholesterol” or LDL (low-density lipoproteins) because they contain high amounts of plant-based phytosterols.

avocado

How to Incorporate Them into Your Daily Diet

Start by incorporating avocadoes into your daily meals.  Chopped, pureed, or mashed, use your imagination to try avocados for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Just be careful what you eat them with.  In other words, skip the chips.

Keeping in mind that a healthy allotment of fat is 65 grams within a daily diet of 2000 calories, simply replace the fats you have been eating for years with avocado.  Eliminate the “not so good for you” fats like margarine or butter, peanut butter, oils, and mayonnaise.  Avocado toast has become a popular and healthy breakfast treat.

As well as the heart-healthy fat, you will be adding vitamins, minerals, and fiber with this substitution.

Please check out my garden website

photo credit

The Skinny on Fats

different fats, get the skinny on them

There are all kinds of fat in our foods.  Trans fat, hydrogenated fat, partially hydrogenated fat, saturated fat, unsaturated fat, monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, etc, etc. Learn the difference between these fats to trim the pounds and inches from your body and get healthy.

Trans Fats or Hydrogenated Fats:

  • artificial fats that are oils treated by a hydrogenation process to be harder at room temperature and increase the shelf life of products that contain them
  • snack foods such as cookies, cakes, crackers, chips
  • salad dressings, margarine, and other foods made with partially hydrogenated oils or shortening
  • raise bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and lowers good cholesterol (HDL) levels

Saturated Fats:

  • solid at room temperature
  • raise cholesterol levels
  • mostly animal foods such as meat, milk, cheese
  • tropical oils such as coconut oil, cocoa butter, palm oil, palm kernel oil.
  • chicken and fish have less saturated fat than red meat

Unsaturated Fats:

  • liquid at room temperature, mostly from a plant source
  • lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels
  • Monounsaturated: avocado, nuts, seeds (almonds, hazelnuts, pecans), and canola, olive, and peanut oils
  • Polyunsaturated: omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids from fish such as salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel, trout, and tuna, walnuts and flaxseeds, as well as corn, safflower, flaxseed, sunflower, soybean, and sesame oils

Fats are crucial for good health as they provide energy and facilitate the absorption of fat-soluble K, D, A, and E vitamins. Fats also aid in hormone production and cell growth, protect your internal organs and regulate your body temperature.  For these reasons, fats should account for 30% of your daily calories.

Conclusion:

So, which fats are the best?  Try to eat mostly unsaturated fats and use saturated fats sparingly, less than 10% of your daily calories.  Trans fats or hydrogenated fats should be avoided as much as possible.

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Lose the Wheat and more…

As promised in my last post, if you want to lose more than a few pounds and/or are concerned about your blood glucose levels, you will have to eliminate more than just wheat from your diet. There are many other foods that stimulate your appetite, and distort your insulin levels. These items all fall into the high glycemic index category, meaning they increase your blood sugar levels the most, which in turn causes more fat to be stored in your body. This theory is the basis of Dr William Davis’ book “Wheat Belly”. It is also the theory the “Zone” diet, popular a few years ago, is based on. I am sure there are many other “diets” based on these ideas, but these two are the ones I found made the most sense and worked the best…

Avoid: cornstarch and cornmeal (tacos, tortillas, corn chips), snack foods (potato chips, rice cakes, popcorn), desserts (pie, cake, ice cream), gluten-free foods (cornstarch, rice starch, potato starch, tapioca starch), fruit juices and soft drinks (sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, colorings, carbonic acid), dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, figs, dates, apricots), some fats (hyrdrogenated/trans, fried oils, cured meats like sausage, bacon, hot dogs, salami)

Eat in moderation (less than 1/2 cup serving): rice (brown, white, wild), potatoes (white, red, sweet, yams), legumes (beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils), other non-wheat grains (quinoa, sorghum, buckwheat, millet, oats)

I know you’re thinking “WHAT CAN I EAT?”   Think back to the hunters and gatherers; vegetables should be the main component of your diet. Eat as many vegetables as you want!

Fruit, on the other hand, should be limited to small servings because modern, hybridized fruits contain too much sugar. The best (highest nutrient content and the least sugars) fruits are blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries and cherries. Bananas, pineapple, mango and papaya are the worst due to their high sugar content.

Raw (not roasted, or processed) nuts are full of good (monounsaturated) fats, protein and fiber, and are filling. Eat as many as you want of these too, they can reduce your cholesterol level and blood pressure. Almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, and cashews are great. Peanuts (legumes, not nuts) cannot be eaten raw, be sure they are boiled or dry roasted without any additions.

Healthy oils are good too: extra-virgin olive, coconut, avocado oils and cocoa butter. Avoid polyunsaturated oils like sunflower, safflower, corn, vegetable oil. To avoid oxidizing the oil, avoid frying and keep cooking temperatures low.

Eat meat, but try to buy meats from grass-fed, hormone and antibiotic free sources, and cook  the meat at lower temperatures for shorter times. Avoid processed and cured meats altogether.

Eggs and real (fermented)cheese are also great for you to eat. A chunk of cheese and a handful of raw nuts is a great snack!  Other dairy products, such as yogurt, (unsweetened, unflavored) milk, cottage cheese and butter should be restricted to two servings a day since the dairy protein in them increases your pancreatic release of insulin. Cheese is unlimited because of its fermentation process that reduces the effect of insulin release.

Other items, such as flax, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds, avocados, olives, coconut, spices, unsweetened cocoa , unsweetened condiments (mustard, horseradish, salsa, vinegar etc) are all unlimited.

Water is your best choice in a beverage. Avoid fruit drinks and soft drinks; 100% fruit juice is acceptable in very small quantities. Tea and coffee (unsweetened, with or without milk) are fine since they are plant derived. Red wine is your best choice in alcoholic beverages; beer is wheat brewed and off-limits!

I am anxious to try the recipes listed in the back of “Wheat Belly”, especially the bread and muffin ones.    I will be sure to let you know what I think of them…