Let's face it: Life is busy. With all of our to-do lists piling up, undergoing a major health overhaul can seem a little daunting and unrealistic. The good news is you can take baby-steps that can dramatically improve your energy, reduce your waistline and help you burn unwanted fat. You can improve the quality of your life by putting the nutrition tips below into action.
1. Put a dot on your hand. Often times, we fall into an unhealthy trap of overeating and weight gain from being so busy that we are not conscious of our food choices. Instead of practicing thoughtful eating, we tend to grab quick pick-me-ups, like coffee or sugary and starchy snacks. To snap yourself back to awareness eating, the first step is to put a dot of ink on your hand. For the next three days, prior to eating anything, look at your hand and ask yourself two following questions;
• Am I really hungry?
• How will this food make me feel 20 minutes from now?
If you are not hungry and the food you are about to eat will make you feel bloated, guilty, tired or mentally foggy, put it down. At its most fundamental level, food is meant to be the source of fuel for your body. Any side effects that occur from a meal are typically from over-consuming (i.e. portion distortion) or by choosing the wrong foods.
2. Cut your caloric intake by 10 per cent. One of the largest bodies of research in the study of nutrition clearly identifies that mildly cutting back on the calories you take in is one of the greatest techniques to ward off disease and prolong your life. This is not to suggest that you should go on a fad diet that advocates strict caloric limitations (so, no 600 calories per day madness). However, by making the right small choices, you can eat until you are sufficiently sufficed, not stuffed! Start implementing this simple tip by leaving a little bit of food behind on your plate at each meal, trimming down your protein size by an ounce or so, or by eating one piece of instead of two (try an open-face sandwich at lunch). You'll soon realize your body doesn’t need as much food as you were giving it.
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3. Drink it up. There's no faster way to increase energy, lose weight and optimize digestion than to increase your daily intake of water. I can't tell you how many weight-loss seekers I see who drink almost no water. In order to start making a habit of drinking water, feel free to jazz it up with a small amount of juice, some fresh mint or slices of lemon or lime. I also recommend investing in a water system in your home – anything from a charcoal filtered system to a reverse osmosis dispensary. The more water is available to you, the more likely it will become something you get used to.
4. Finish your day off as healthy as you start it. Lots of my weight-loss clients start their day off beautifully, with yogurt, a protein shake or eggs, only to finish it off with a huge dinner, overconsuming and emotionally eating the wrong foods at night (cookies, cereal, crackers and cheese). Does this sound familiar to you? If so, it would be beneficial to start keeping a food journal. The path to getting more energy and a flatter stomach is to ensure that dinner time is early and not heavy in calories, fat and starches. If you're at the office until late, eat a snack later in the afternoon to ensure you're not ravenous by the time you get home; when you're that hungry, it's very difficult to make the right food choices. For optimal health, eat light and lean in the evening.
5. Eat something "live" at every meal. We benefit from the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and hydration that comes from eating fresh fruits and vegetables. How can we expect to feel alive if we do not eat alive? Part of eating a live food at every meal involves preparation, so once you get your fresh produce home, cut up your broccoli, carrots, cucumbers and celery for nutrient-dense, calorie-light snacking options. Keep grapefruits, apples, grapes, oranges and an assortment of fresh and frozen berries on hand to toss into your morning smoothie or yogurt. When eating out, always opt for the side salad instead of the starchy fries that will sap your energy and clog up your digestion.
We can all use a little health pick-me-up from time to time, but often feel too busy to start. Simply implementing the five steps above can have an enormous benefit to the way you feel, move and think on a daily basis. Changing the quality of your food will change the quality of your life!
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Dr. Joey Shulman is a bestselling author and founder of The Shulman Weight Loss Clinics. For more information, please visit drjoey.com