It sounds silly, but most of us are – or have been at some time – unaware of what is actually in the food we consume and the supplements we take. We are unaware not only of what these foods contain – of the building blocks that make them what they are – but also of how these foods affect us: affect our organs, affect our mood, affect our weight loss goals. More often than not, our lack of knowledge dooms our weight management and weight loss efforts, and we stumble along, angry and frustrated by the fact that things aren’t working the way we think they should.
That is, until we start to wake up. Until we start to see there is some relationship between what we are choosing and what we are getting. Between what we are eating and what we are becoming. As insane and chaotic as the world can seem, there actually is, fundamentally, rhyme and reason to its mechanisms, particularly when it comes to the contents of our food and their impact on weight management. But we need to start to listen: to our bodies, to our food labels, and to the experts in the field of health and nutrition sharing the hard-won results of their research with us. We must not only listen to them, but through the noise surrounding them, the noise of our own cravings, the noise of disingenuous product label claims, the noise of misinformation injected into the media through dubious and specious research from untrustworthy sources.
The food we eat directly affects the quality of life we have. There is a delicate balance between the nutrients we take in and the weight management issues that each of us deal with. Whether you feel sluggish, or bloated, or agitated, or even a little too chunky; it all can be traced back to your nutrition. Working to have a more healthy and balanced nutritional intake is the best thing you can do for your weight control, and will also result in fewer struggles during the ongoing weight management process. Above and beyond all other factors, the primary sources of our nutritional intake happens to be the foods we eat and the dietary supplements we take.
There is no quick fix or easy solution to weight management issues. Achieving weight goals – whether weight loss or weight management – takes work, and not just the kind of work that involves pumping iron for hours or running marathons for glory. While of course exercise has its myriad benefits, the kind of work I am talking about is the work it takes to become a disciplined and well-informed eater. It takes work to decipher those big words, to discern which expert knows best, and to learn the FDA’s lexicon of acronyms. I am not suggesting that we all spend hours researching. You really don’t have to become a PhD to learn to eat well. There are plenty of experts out there with PhDs and MDs and RDs that have already done much of the heavy lifting – people like Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. David Katz, and Ashley Koff RD – all of them desperate to share their knowledge with you. What you can do is become informed about the basics of nutrition. You can become a conscious shopper and a conscious eater. By knowing simple things like what RDI means, knowing a few of the essential vitamins & minerals, and knowing what things to avoid, you can make more informed decisions, decisions that will have measurable results. All you need is 5 minutes of work a day in making smart nutrition decision that will affect your entire quality of life.
As the result of some basic research and discerning listening, you can learn to withstand the bombardment of influencers aimed at affecting your daily food and dietary supplement choices. Being informed will help you better avoid the “bad for you” choices or the misleading ingredients that can exponentially increase your struggles in weight management. The flip side to the coin is that there is a wide range of friendly foods and helpful supplements that can catapult you toward your weight loss goals. A good idea is to make a handy list on an index card or make a note on your smartphone. These lists make it handy to reference friendly foods and those “bad for you” ones.
“Friendly ” foods are generally smarter caloric choices that often provide additional health benefits. Superfoods and fiber rich foods are very “friendly” to your system and can be beneficial in helping to maintain a healthy digestive system, helping to lower blood pressure & cholesterol, and helping to ease cravings by providing satiety. Look for fiber rich food and seek products with high dietary fiber, particularly soluble fiber. Fiber, unfortunately, gets a bad wrap for it’s affect on bowel movements, and so people avoid it. This belief is, sadly, mistaken. While insoluble fiber is rightly called “nature’s laxative”, soluble fiber has a much less dramatic affect on bowel movements. If insoluble fiber works as a bowel mover, then soluble fiber functions as a bowel “healer”, loosening the stool for those constipated, and hardening the stool for those suffering from diarrhea. In other words, soluble fiber returns you to a healthy normal. It’s because of misunderstandings surrounding fiber, and because people have a hard time finding proper fiber sources, that most Americans suffer from issues that can be helped by fiber and fiber gummies – issues like constipation and chronic diseases like diverticulitis. The consumption of fiber, either through fiber rich food or fiber gummies, can help to reduce the risk of high cholesterol, cardiovascular illness and diabetes. By taking fiber gummies, you won’t be running to the bathroom every hour of the day. Instead, fiber will help you return to a healthy normal. Fiber can be found all around us and a lot of time we avoid it unconsciously. In addition to fiber gummies being a great source of fiber, whole fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber, as are beans, flaxseed, and oats. Those who opt for fruit juice instead often deprive themselves of the benefits of fiber.
Many of the “bad for you” foods are not always obvious, while others are easily recognizable. You may know to stay away from the “empty calories” in foods that are high in sugar and fat. You may not be aware of the dangers of foods like specific breads that contain enriched flour and do not explicitly say “100% whole wheat.” This omission should be a warning sign that there is no/low fiber in the food you are about to consume. Dried fruit is a type of food that appears to be “friendly” at first, but it contains a large amount of sugar that can cancel out any health benefits. The primary source of hidden sugar in a majority of products is high fructose corn syrup, which is often found in soda, fruit drinks, and other processed foods. High fructose corn syrup can contribute unwanted calories to your diet that will result in weight management struggles. Without knowing it, you can consume a massive amount of calories from the consumption of high fructose corn syrup. Not only has obesity been linked to the intake of high fructose corn syrup, but so has type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and high triglyceride levels. The American Heart Association recommends that women get no more than 100 calories a day from added sugar from any source, which is about 6 teaspoons. Men are recommended to get no more than 150 calories a day from added sugar, which is about 9 teaspoons.
Dietary fiber, as you might have gathered, is broken down into 2 types – soluble and insoluble. Both types will be beneficial in easing cravings, because they have the characteristics of being high volume and low calorie and are often classified as low density foods.
Insoluble fiber does not digest in our bodies and just passes through our digestive system, making it easier to move our bowels. This type of fiber is often referred to as bulk forming fiber, and because of its impact on the bowels is is said to benefit weight loss. A common bulk forming fiber is psyllium husk, which is found in many powdered fiber supplements. Be careful when taking insoluble fiber supplements to not to take too much, because you could be visiting the lavatory more frequently. With these types of fiber supplements, it is best to ease into them and be consistent for best results. Insoluble fiber rich foods include cauliflower, apple skin, brussel sprouts, bran, and breads & cereals that are whole wheat.
Soluble fiber, on the other hand, is digested by the body and works to slow the digestive rate, which in turn lowers the rate at which fats and carbohydrates are absorbed. Soluble fiber has also been shown to help lower glucose levels and increase insulin sensitivity.* Soluble fiber rich foods include beans, peas, apples, citrus fruits, oatmeal and oat bran. The form of fiber most often found in fiber gummies is soluble fiber. According to the American Heart Association, soluble fiber is often used for weight management for its aforementioned benefits. It is recommended that men take about 38 grams of soluble fiber daily while women only take about 25 grams of fiber to achieve these benefits. It doesn’t take that much work to sneak some fiber into your diet; have a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast or an apple for a snack. After adding fiber to your diet, you’ll be surprised by the progress you’ll make after making just this one decision.
The daily process of making wise nutritional choices cannot happen without you becoming more aware of the foods and dietary supplements you take – aware of their benefits and aware of their dangers. Whether your aim is weight management, weight loss, or simply to feel more nourished by what you put in your body, nothing can possibly support your goal more than a well-fed mind. Seek out experts in the health industry – the doctors and the nutritionists, the mommy gurus and the diet divas, and listen to the stories of your fellow wellness travelers who have tasted the bitterness of failure and the fruits of success and whose wisdom is authenticated not by the accolades of academia but through naked, hard-earned experience. Armed with the right info, and supported by conscious health decisions, you will find the health and wellness you are searching for.
In his book, “The Curative Value of Light: Sunlight and Sun Lamp in Health and Disease,” written in 1932, Edgar Mayer recounts how we once looked upon the sun as a “Supreme Being,” one of the gods of the heavens and ruler of the earth. Hippocrates (The father of Medicine) practiced on the Island of Cos – his own temple was on a slope facing south at an altitude of 300 feet above sea level – in order to capture maximum sunlight and the freshest air. Throughout all recorded history, there are stories of the magnificence of the sun and its relationship to all living things. Now, through exhaustive research and peer-reviewed studies, we have the knowledge and understanding that this revered “magic” from the sun is largely due to the vitamin D (specifically D3, or cholecalciferol) that is synthesized by our skin from exposure to its ultraviolet rays. Read the rest of this entry »
If you are of a similar age to me, you entered your adult years with advertising and slogans shouting out at us to lower the fat intake in our diets. We became accustomed to thinking that if we grabbed everything with the right label, namely “low-fat,” we would either lose weight, or gain no weight, and become totally healthy. The truth is, a shortage of the right fats can make us significantly unhealthy. New thinking has shown us that fats like omega 3s (along with omega 6s - also called essential fatty acids or EFAs) are essential to our health.* Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega 3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, while also protecting our musculoskeletal, intestinal, and immune systems.* Adding to this – we have learned that proper intake of EFAs – particularly omega 3s – may actually help in weight control and weight management.* Read the rest of this entry »
The worst part of beginning a diet is learning which lovely foods you’ll no longer be able to eat:
I don’t know about you, but I stopped listening after “pizza.”
The sad fact is, though, to control your weight you will have to cut out a lot of these foods and limit your intake of many many more.
But there is one thing you don’t need to cut back on to benefit your weight. In fact, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH), you should be eating more of it. A lot more.
The New Year is upon us, and with it comes fresh attempts to change old patterns. If you’ve already hit your target weight and are looking to keep what you’ve worked so hard for, here is a list of 50 healthy ways to maintain your weight. And if a happy weight has eluded you, these tips can also be applied to anyone’s weight loss journey.
Note: you don’t need to follow through on all of these suggestions. Adopting even some can give you the push you need to achieve your goal.
1. Assess your starting point.
Many people have unrealistic goals when it comes to ideal body weight. Assess your body weight using the body mass index (BMI). The BMI is a ratio between your height and weight. Beyond maintaining a healthy wait, a good realistic goal would be to lose enough to get into the next category (for example, from overweight to normal. Aiming for a shift from Obese to Normal would be less realistic). Read the rest of this entry »
As windows darken with dinner time, and as we don jackets to temper the chill, it’s tempting to munch comfort foods, conceal that “winter padding” under bulky sweaters and coats, and rationalize that we’ll take care of it come spring. But fitness experts remind us that weight loss is not only about how we look, but about how we feel, and our health. Read the rest of this entry »
Weight control – in one form or another – is both the ambition and preoccupation of a great many people these days. Sadly, in today’s “instant gratification” society, crash diets…starvation…mini liposuction may seem your only choices. But what about good old fashioned nutrition with a hefty dose of common sense for weight control? Read on to find out more about vitamins and nutrients essential for effective weight control. Read the rest of this entry »
Some subjects die hard, and weight loss and exercise are two of them. While the methods may change, the desired results don’t: to get -and stay – fit and healthy. Read on to learn more about what people on the web are saying.
The Nutrition Vault shares some of Nancy Clark’s lifestyle-friendly weight-loss strategies. Nancy Clark authored “Sports Nutrition Guidebook.” Strategies shared include many tips around planning, tracking, monitoring and most of all–no deprivation! She also addresses the importance of sleep for successful weight loss. Read the rest of this entry »
Vitamin D plays a variety of roles in our bodies, like potentially strengthening our teeth and bones, boosting our immune systems, and reducing the risk of stress fractures.* Now, it seems, vitamin D may also play a role in successful weight control.* Not only can it potentially help with weight control, vitamin D also seems to be intimately linked to our ability to manage weight at all.* Read the rest of this entry »
There are many challenges to face along the path to weight loss. Not only are there the perils of junk food – we must also steer clear of the junk between our ears. In this article that’s exactly what we aim to help you with: the junk that’s in your head that threatens to sabotage you at every turn. Because that candy bar, that soda with high fructose corn syrup, and that extra helping of ice cream aren’t nearly as detrimental to your physical well-being as believing things that aren’t true. Read the rest of this entry »