Stop dieting and start living by dieting no more. It is totally possible to experience the positive aspects of a diet without the diet itself. All you need to do is make a few small, permanent tweaks to your every day lifestyle. The key is to take every day as it comes, and if you want to treat yourself to do it without any self-judgement or guilt.
Without sticking to a “diet, you will eventually still seem to be lighter, happier, less hungry and bloated all the time. Your digestion might even improve too.
Unless you have a health problem (which may include temporary restriction), saying good bye to diets for good could possibly be one of the most liberating things you could do for yourself. You could even go so far to chuck the bathroom scales as well. Be done with the kilojoule counting, kilo watching and feelings of inadequacy and guilt permanently.
Here are a few of the small changes you can make in your every day life. Permanently.
1. Try to stop worrying (at least as much)
The benefits of managing your worry and stress far outweigh those of any diet or detox. When you stress, you release the stress hormone cortisol, which increases the fat storage (especially in those with ongoing stress and especially fat around the middle) and insulin resistance. Stress also reduces hydrochloric acid in your stomach, inhibiting the proper break down of food into nutrients. When this happens the body thinks it is going into a nutritional famine of sorts so it prepares to for survival – and guess how….by storing more fat!
The key is to stop worrying, stop judging yourself and just relax. It doesn’t really matter how you do it. Relaxation stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. Cortisol decreases, digestion improves and your body will start to feel safe enough to do it’s own thing the way it wants to (which is always in the name of health). Just accept your body whole-heartedly and let it do it’s thing. Be happy. Be relaxed. You will be amazed at how good you look when you get to this point. The irony is, you will feel and look so well that how you look won’t matter as much.
2. Make sure do a poo every day
To feel happy, energised and healthy it is important to do a poo at least once a day. When you are constipated, the body is unable to eliminate toxic waste material efficiently. The old food waste then builds up and ferments, blocking nutrient and water reabsorption. Toxins also build up in the system, overtaxing the other waste removal organs (skin, lungs and kidneys) which may lead to a host of health problems.
Whilst it is important to investigate why you may not be going to the toilet in the first place, there are many other things you can do during your day to increase your chances of “going”. Many I have described in detail on this blog post, but most it is most important to:
- Drink a minimum of 2L of clean water a day.
- Start the day with a big glass of warm water and lemon or a pinch of rock salt.
- If you feel you are hydrated but still constipated, consider adding 30mls of chlorophyll to a litre of water twice a day. Chlorophyll acts as a natural internal detergent but also works to soften the stool helping things to “pass”.
- Use lots of healthy oils on your foods. Flaxseed or coconut oil is a good option for morning smoothies, olive oil is great for lunch time salads and at night you can cook with ghee or organic butter. Oils stimulate bile which can make things “slimier” and it easier for you to pass a stool. When you are really constipated, mix a tablespoon of cold pressed flaxseed oil with a tablespoon of ground flaxseed (fresh) and eat it as it is on an empty stomach before breakfast. Works wonders for some.
3. Add greens to everything
Green leafy vegetables are the most nutritious foods out there. They nourish the body, detoxify the body, fill you up (thanks to fibre) and are extremely low in kilojoules. There is no doubt that my mind gets clearer and my jean feel looser when consciously increase my intake. So start looking and feeling better by adding green vegetables to every meal. (ideally they should cover half of your plate). Consider:
- Drinking a green superfood smoothie instead of your usual breakfast or lunch.
- Add them (raw or cooked) to your eggs on toast. I personally like to sautee kale, spinach or silverbeet in a little butter with my morning eggs.
- Chop them up and add them to an omelette.
- Eat mixed leaf green salads, avoiding nutrient devoid iceberg leaves and choosing more nutritious options such as rocket/ baby spinach/ massaged kale instead.
- Make a green soup when the weather is cold. Blend your favourite green vegetable with a fried onion, tablespoon of goats cheese or avocado, some chicken or vege stock and salt and pepper to taste. I love this recipe using broccoli.
4. Cut one serving of grains a day from your meals
Most people live on a diet that consists of at least 50% grains, whether they be in the form of breads, pastas, rice, baked goods and/or cereals. Rather than going on an Atkins-style diet and abstaining from the joy of grains altogether, try cutting them from at least one of your meals every day (which means if you are only eating them at two meals cut down to just eating them at one). Consider:
- Replacing your cereal or toast with a protein shake/ smoothie in the mornings.
- Avoiding breads, pastas and rice with your dinner at night.
- Opting for gluten-free grains such as buckwheat, millet, brown rice and quinoa.
- Replacing grains with nutritious starch vegetable such as pumpkin and sweet potato.
5. Eat wholefoods and forget the fake ones
Feed your body with nutrient dense wholefoods and forget anything that’s synthetic, genetically modified and chemically laden. Top offenders include:
- Fake animal products, such as crab sticks and tofu sausages
- Processed meat products
- White bread (whit flour products generally)
- Instant noodles
- Anything dyed with artificial food dyes (such as Fruit Loops)
- Plastic cheese
- Anything with MSG (so a lot of Asian foods)
6. Cut the cardio and walk, swim or do yoga instead
Many health conscious people put unnecessary additional stress on the body by working out too much. As I mentioned above, an increased cortisol response can increase appetite, insulin resistance and fat storage. For many individuals (particularly women), intense cardio regimes dramatically increase the appetite, leaving them voracious all day long and the kilojoules burnt off during exercise redundant.
You will look and feel better if you stay away from extremes. To look and feel good without feeling exhausted, sore and hungry all the time, it’s better to:
- Exercise for enjoyment. If you like to run, go for a run but run somewhere that you love instead of on a treadmill. If you like to cycle, skip Spinning and go for an outdoors ride instead. Go at your own pace but make sure it is one that doesn’t leave you depleted at the end of it.
- Try to include 2-3 sessions a week of resistance exercise such as weight, pilates or yoga. Resistance exercises help you to build muscle which in turn help you to burn fat.
- If you really can’t bare the thought of giving up the endorphin hit of high impact cardio, consider interval training instead (at 25-30minutes a session maximum to limit cortisol’s response).
- If you are one of those people that feels like going to bed after a workout, you probably have some level of adrenal fatigue. Combat this fatigue by drinking something with a little salt and glucose in it as you work out. Most opt for sports drinks but a great natural alternative is coconut water (which is the highest source of natural electrolytes).
7. Lay off the sweet stuff
Anything that tastes sweet in your mouth is going to raise your blood sugar and incite an insulin response – potentially leaving you fatter and more tired over time. Artificial sweeteners are also a bad idea as they are carcinogenic, indigestible and eventually create insulin resistance.
If you have to have something sweet:
- Opt for the whole fruit instead (see below) and always avoid fruit juices and dried fruit.
- Opt for products that use stevia or brown rice syrup over other sugars such as refined table sugar, agave syrup or coconut sugar.
As you cut down on sweet foods your sweet point will shift down and you will definitely start to crave them less.
8. Eat dinner as early as possible
Most people eat their biggest meal at dinner time which health-wise is a huge mistake. When you eat late, your digestion has to work harder as you lie down, robbing you of the nourishing REM sleep and putting you at a higher risk of acid reflux/ indigestion.
However , it’s the large, carbohydrate heavy meals and snacks just before bed that leave you feeling like you’ve been hit by a bus the next morning. This can be mild hypoglycaemia, whose symptoms include extreme lethargy upon waking, nausea, dizziness and a lack of appetite for breakfast. Too many carbs too soon before bed sky rocket your blood sugar which then crashes as you sleep. Sometimes the crash is steep enough to even wake you up (often around 2-3am). This is especially true if you are stressed and/or have an adrenal problem.
It is best to have an early dinner before 7pm and then fast until the next morning if you can. If that’s too much to bare, or if you have a blood sugar problem or adrenal fatigue, enjoy a very small, high fat, high protein snack within the hour before you sleep (maximum 5 mouthfuls). Good options include celery stick w nut butter, natural full fat yogurt or a warm nut milk herbal tea (my current favourite is warm almond milk with the calming lavender tea).