I was recently asked what my top health tips are that have made the biggest difference in helping women (especially busy moms) get back on track with a healthy lifestyle. Here are my top ten :
1. Eat foods that naturally hydrate you.
We all know that staying well hydrated helps us stave off cravings, prevents over-eating and supports mental focus and clarity…but many busy moms (and people in general) have a hard time drinking enough water through the day. When we eat foods high in water content (fresh fruits, vegetables, soups) instead of dry snacks like chips or pretzles, we are bolstering our water intake and preventing the dehydration that comes from eating processed foods.
2. Set up like a pro.
Why does it always look so easy on the cooking shows? Because they do 75-90% of the work before they start airing! I encourage my moms to set up a routine early in the day (maybe at naptime or mid-day snack time) to prepare for that night’s meal as if they are airing a cooking show. Measure EVERYTHING out and put in little ramekins. Chop all veggies. Cut or season the meat. Have a counter prep tray and refrigerator prep tray.
This way the mess, time and dishes that go along with the preparation part of a meal are taken care of well before dinner time rolls around (a universally stressful time for moms). This transforms dinner prep into something organized, enjoyable and quick– a win-win for moms trying to cook more healthy home-made meals!
3. Take a breath.
Way too often we eat without our brains even acknowledging it. Many people can relate to wolfing down a snack or meal and looking at an empty plate, bag or bowl wondering where it all went. Digestion starts in our brains (where signals are sent for our stomach to release digestive enzymes).
When we circumvent our minds and eat while doing a million other things, we not only compromise our digestion, but we bypass the opportunity to feel satiated. A simple deep breath before you put anything in your mouth is a quick and effective way to slow down and focus on the food you are about to eat.
4. Focus on one type of taste at a time.
We all know that processed and junk foods are easy to binge on and overeat…but there are some good reasons why this is so. As it turns out, the part in our brain that controls satiety also registers tastes.
When we combine too many different kinds of tastes at once, that part of the brain short circuits so to speak and stops monitoring fullness. We were meant to eat foods with clean, simple tastes- like those found in nature. Wonder why some spaghetti sauces (something we associate with a salt and savory taste) actually have a higher sugar content than chocolate sauce? Because the food industry knows that if it combine many tastes at once you’ll end up eating more!
5. Keep your goals on green light foods.
Food consumption in modern society has become unnaturally mental– we constantly go about dieting with a focus on restriction and foods that we can’t eat. Turning the table on this pattern frees up the panic and obsessing that happens when we tell ourselves “no”.
I never encourage women to say no to foods– we always set our goals on what foods or wellness practices we are bringing into our days – once you release the restriction, over time the attraction of these forbidden foods wanes and they no longer haunt you.
6. Emphasis cleansing foods to help with weight loss.
Because many toxins are fat soluble, they get stored in our fat cells. A highly toxic body will have a hard time losing weight, because the fat cells are keeping the toxins from circulating through your system. Supporting our body’s natural ability to detoxify will allow your fat cells to be burned more easily.
7. “I don’t LIKE vegetables”
Many of us have preconceived ideas of the foods we like and don’t like, and we rarely challenge them. If people tell me they “can’t eat” foods like dark leafy greens, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, parsnips (powerful superfoods!) ; I challenge them to try these veggies (just once) in these ways:
* Blend dark leafy greens in a fruit smoothie.
* Roast brussel sprouts, cauliflower, parsnips, eggplant with a bit of olive oil and sea salt in the oven.
It is a rare person who doesn’t come back raving about what they’ve been missing!
8. Go slow.
Resist the urge to take on too many changes at once. In our quick fix society we are accustomed to jump head first into extreme diet changes only to burn out quickly and go back to old habits. I coach my clients to work in small, simple, and sustainable changes over time so that the changes become new habits and healthy living, losing weight and having more energy become part of their every day life, not a flash in the pan experience!
9. Indulge in high quality treats.
It is important not to become a diet martyr when you begin to shift the way you nourish yourself. Treating ourselves to foods we love and enjoy is essential to our success. One effective way to do this is to switch from poor quality sweets to high quality ones. It is much harder to overeat high quality dark chocolate– our bodies know when to say enough to a decadent, rich, real food treat – it’s the processed, high fructose corn syrup laden, artificially flavored junk treats that keep us overeating and unsatisfied.
10. Trust that a gentle and loving perspective is powerful and effective.
Drop the “all or nothing” and “no pain, no gain” mentality – extremism fails in the long run every time. We have been literally sold (check out the revenue from diet books!) on the idea that we need to suffer our way to weight loss and that our weight gain was a form of personal weakness.
Releasing ourselves from this mindset is essential to having a right relationship with food, our bodies and our health. Eating well feels good, tastes good and is something our bodies were meant to crave. Many people are shocked they can start to trust themselves again to make healthy choices and keep the weight off.
Do you have a healthy eating “secret” that has made a difference in your life?
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