Want to Lose Weight? Eat MORE Food!
By Regina Pellegrino
We’ve all been there: feeling hopeless and frustrated with our efforts to lose weight, but not seeing the results we felt we had worked so hard for… The vicious cycle of losing weight momentarily and then gaining it right back the second we fall off our super restricted eating regiment.
Yup, I was there myself not too long ago. Even after having been a conscious gym-goer for most of my adult life and maintaining an overall “healthy” lifestyle, I still was not getting results and I didn’t understand why. The truth is, I wasn’t eating healthy ALL the time – I was so hard on myself throughout the day, being overly conscious about what I consumed to the point I would binge in the middle of the night on anything I could get my hands on. During those moments, I felt great, invigorated, freed of all of my deprivation, but in the morning I would be flushed with guilt and ashamed by my lack of restraint.
So here I was working out like crazy, eating meticulously throughout the day, only to have it all sabotaged at night. Sound familiar to anyone? Well, don’t worry, this story does have a happy ending and I’m eager to share with you why.
Before I go into more detail, I want you to throw out all the ideas you have associated with dieting. In fact, I won’t mention the awful word again for the rest of this article.
Say goodbye to calorie counting, deprivation, weighing out your food and the idea that eating healthy is boring, bland and limiting. I am confident that you can reach your weight loss goals without all those things and I’ll show you exactly how and why by embracing the soul concept of eating more food!
By connecting the dots with these 4 simple concepts, you will better understand how food can work with you, rather than against you, to give you the results you’ve been waiting for! Exciting stuff!
First things first …
1. Embrace fats!
Kind of confusing, right? Eat fat to lose fat? But hear me out. I’m not recommending you go out and eat a stick of butter, however, there are GOOD FATS you should not be afraid of because these guys will help you shed those extra pounds you just cannot seem to shake. These waist trimmers are known as monounsaturated fats, which include foods like avocado, olive oil, nuts, seeds and fatty fish, such as salmon and herring. These fats fill you up and are proven to curb hunger hours after being consumed.
Some studies also suggest the special nutrient found specifically in omega 3 fats – known as DHA – inhibits fat cells from expanding and can also regulate the hormone leptin, which is responsible for telling your body how much fat to store. Another added bonus to eating foods containing DHA is how it contributes to your brain health. DHA is only found naturally in fatty fish like salmon, herring, sardines and anchovies. Eating these DHA rich fish twice a week will not only help you see improvement in your waistline, but also boost your memory.
2. Bring on the variety of whole foods (don’t discriminate)!
I want you to think back to being a kid and having a home cooked meal. Almost always there was some sort of protein, a vegetable, a carbohydrate and some form of dairy or fat. Yup, Mom and Dad had it down pat by serving us well balanced meals way back when, but interestingly enough, today many of us skimp on including all these foods in our day to day meals.
The reason incorporating all these different food groups daily will help with weight loss is because each of them have different roles in the body, working in synchronization to torch those extra calories.
For example, lean proteins – like grilled chicken, baked fish or beans – help slow digestion, while healthy (complex) carbohydrates – such as brown rice, sweet potatoes or oats – raise serotonin (the “feel good” neurotransmitter) levels, reducing food cravings.
In fact, serotonin is the key leader in our gut health; it controls basically everything that goes on in our digestive system! And when serotonin levels are low, our body is not happy. In order to spike up our serotonin levels, the amino acid known as tryptophan, as well as the Vitamin-B Complex (specifically thiamine and folic acid) are needed to actually produce the carb loving neurotransmitter, serotonin, in our bodies.
Tryptophan and Vitamin B Complex are found in different foods such as bananas, meat, legumes and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, which is why you can see including a variety of foods is key to helping you curb cravings and have you feeling good.
So the next time your body has a craving for some healthy carb-rich foods, don’t hesitate, give it what it needs and it will be sure to return the favor!
3. Load up on Fruits and Vegetables!
With all the controversial nutrition talk these days, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and not know what the best decision is for you. One day they’re telling you to stay away from carbs, the next you hear someone tell you to load up. One person says vegetarian is the only way to eat, while a paleo friend may disagree strongly in saying animal protein is fundamental to establishing a healthy weight. Needless to say, it can get downright confusing.
One thing everyone seems to agree on though, no matter what their background or dietary preference may be, is that eating lots of fruit and vegetables is everyone’s ticket to weight loss. I honestly cannot say enough good things about fruits and vegetables; between being loaded with antioxidants to fight off those nasty free radicals, as well as supplying us with the necessary vitamins and minerals we need to have our bodies functioning at it’s highest potential, they’re just all around awesome! Oh, and did I mention they’re delicious?
Of course, you may still be wondering how this relates to weight loss. Well, for starters, when it comes to fruits and vegetables there really is no limit on how much you can eat – being low in calories and high in nutrients it’s every weight losers dream.
Many fruits and vegetables are also loaded with dietary fiber, a key ingredient in shedding those pounds. Fiber helps bulk foods up for us, once again leaving us fuller longer, as well as helping out with digestion. A fiber-rich breakfast is recommended for best results while combined with a good source of protein and fat.
Try out my favorite go-to snack: Introduced to me as “nature’s snicker bar” (yes it’s THAT good), simply top a few pitted dates with 1-2 tbsp of you favorite nut butter and enjoy! Loaded with fiber, protein and fat, this bite sized snack will leave you full while also satisfying your sweet tooth (of course, don’t go overboard… even natural sugars can pose a problem when over-consumed)!
And last but certainly not least …
4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Our bodies are made up of approximately 65% of water! More than half of our body weight is there thanks to good ol’ H20, so there’s no doubt it’s fundamental to consume plenty of water to keep your body functioning at its peak level.
This is probably one of the biggest tricks in the book to keeping the pounds off. You see, so many times we confuse being hungry with being thirsty and if you may have noticed…
The key idea in all this weight loss talk is to curb cravings by eating the right foods at the right time when our body needs it so we don’t consume unnecessary calories.
Many times our body is telling us it’s thirsty, but we confuse it with being hungry and end up consuming extra food our body didn’t even really need. Save yourself the dilemma of trying to figure out if you’re thirsty by constantly consuming water throughout the day. Aim for ½ your bodyweight in ounces per day, more if you’re active (which I hope you are!).
For some people, water can get boring so I recommend adding fresh limes, lemons or mint to it to add a little pizzaz. If you are also looking to switch up your fluids from water, certain teas have properties to help you burn fat.
Green and oolong tea have compounds called catechins, which fight off fat cells while also increasing the liver’s capacity to turn fat into energy. Rooibos tea – from the leaves of the “red bush” plant – contain the flavonoid Aspalathin, which research shows can reduce stress hormones, triggering hunger and the storage of fat. Cheers to that!
As mentioned earlier, there was a happy ending to my story. I am now freed of my middle of the night binge eating and being held captive to the vicious cycle of losing weight just to gain it right back time and time again.
I am now proud to say my relationship with food has completely changed and I have never felt better.
It’s not just about shedding the extra pounds either, it’s the freedom of being able to live your life without restrictions and become your best self yet by simply embracing your body’s needs.
My motto: if I can do it .. so can you!
Regina Pellegrino started her journey with health when first being diagnosed with IBS in 2004.After many failed attempts to find answers through countless doctor visits, Regina took her health into her own hands and began healing herself through proper diet and exercise. Through her own personal journey, her passion for leading a healthy lifestyle ignited her desire to learn more about fighting chronic illnesses naturally.
Regina is a Certified Health Coach through The Institution of Integrative Nutrition, as well as a certified Fitness Specialist through San Diego Mesa College. She is currently a student at San Francisco State University, studying Dietetics. Regina hopes that by sharing her personal journey, she can shine light and give hope to others looking to overcome their own health battles, with a positive mindset and awareness of the unique needs of each individual body.
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