New Year, new diet, right?? Raise your hand if you started a diet as part of your New Year’s Resolution.
The diet industry in the United States makes $20 billion annually, yet, more than one in three adults (35 percent) are obese. At any given time in the United States, 20 percent of the population is on a diet. The typical dieter will make 4 to 5 attempts per year to lose weight (often starting with a New Year’s Resolution). Diets do not work. Diets make you physically uncomfortable, they involve a lot of change at once, and they decrease or change your quality of life. These factors make diets and dieting unsustainable.
A lesser known “casualty” of dieting is the disruption of your hunger and satiety (fullness) regulation. Feeling hungry versus feeling full is far more complicated than your stomach being empty versus your stomach being full. Neurotransmitters, direct nerve connections, circulating nutrients, and hormones all contribute to the feelings of hunger or fullness in the body. Reconnecting with the cues that relate to the need for nutrients as well as providing your body with adequate nutrients from carbohydrates, fat and protein can help you maximize your body’s potential.
The following tips can easily be integrated into your daily life, allowing you to achieve a healthy lifestyle:
1. CONSUME THREE TO FOUR MEALS PER DAY. Be sure that each contain enough weight and volume to provide the direct nerve connection from gut to brain to signal that you are nourished and can stop eating. Think of the difference in volume of grapes versus raisins. A bowl of broth based soup or a salad will physically fill the stomach more than a protein bar or a piece of cheese. But keep in mind that satiety is more complex than just filling the stomach, so a huge bowl of lettuce for every meal or guzzling large amounts of sparkling water when you are truly hungry rather than eating is not part of a healthy lifestyle.
2. CONSUME ADEQUATE AMOUNTS OF CARBS, PROTEIN, AND FAT. The brain has a delicate sensing mechanism that detects concentrations of glucose, fatty acids, and certain amino acids in the bloodstream. The proper amount of nutrients circulating in the bloodstream will take your mind off of food.
3. BE MINDFUL. Start to listen what your body is saying. Remember that hunger is what has kept the human race alive for thousands of years! Recognize that the desire to eat is your body’s way of telling you that it needs nutrients. Honor that need by eating foods that will satisfy your body’s nutrient requirements as well as triggering feelings of fullness and satisfaction. Eat just enough to feel comfortable after a meal. Take time to eat slowly enough to allow your body to recognize that its nutrient needs have been met. Try not to eat standing up, on the go, or in your car. If you have eaten the right amount at the right time, you should not even think about food for 1-2 hours after your meal.
4. EXERCISE REGULARLY. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that healthy adults engage in moderate aerobic activity for 150 minutes per week and engage in strength training activities that use all major muscle groups 2 times per week. Make an effort to reduce sitting time throughout the day. Aim to walk 10,000 steps per day. To simplify even further, aim to engage in physical activity for 30 minutes daily.
5. PRACTICE SELF-CARE. Get adequate amounts of sleep per night. Drink adequate amounts of fluid per day. Learn something new. Practice meditation. Practice gratitude. Practice kindness. Decrease negative self-talk. Healthy living is a process, so keep slip ups in perspective. Stop viewing you and your body as a dichotomy. Listen to your body and honor its needs.
Your body is complicated and awesome-learn to love it!