With swimsuit season looming ahead, I've noticed a lot of my friends talking about their "diets" on facebook. This has gotten me thinking about the common nutrition mistakes people often make when trying to lose weight. My area of emphasis for my degree is nutrition so I spent a large portion of college doing case studies on people ranging from morbidly obese to those trying to lose the last of the baby weight. Here are my top ten tips for a healthy lifestyle:
1. Decide that this will be a lifestyle change. It's not just about losing weight, it's about having a healthy heart, feeling strong and energetic, reducing your risk for Type II diabetes, and being in tune with your body.
2. "Diet" food is not always good for you. Check the nutrition label. Most likely it will be loaded with sodium and/or sugar. Eat "real" food. When you're in the grocery store, shop the outer walls. These are the walls that have the produce and un-processed food. Most things in the middle aisles of the store are junk.
3. With this in mind, not all organic food is low calorie or low sodium either. Just because it has the word organic stamped on the box does not necessarily mean it's a smart choice. Do your research and always read the nutrition and ingredient labels.
4. Eat at home as often as you can. When you make your meals at home, you have more control over what goes in to your food. Restaurants load their food with butter and salt.
5. Make smart substitutions. I have heard a few of my friends talking about coke cakes. Basically it's where you take cake mix, stir in diet coke, and bake. This is an example of a bad substitution. Instead try this: When baking brownies, use all of the regular ingredients and just switch out the oil for applesauce. I promise you won't taste the applesauce and it cuts down on calories and fat. But to be honest, just have the real thing every now and then. If you control your portions and don't eat a pan of brownies every night you will be fine!
6. Sodas are poison. No really. If you are only going to make one change to your diet, cutting cokes out is it. And yes, diet sodas are also equally as bad. I mainly drink unsweet tea and water. I keep things like sliced lemons, mint leaves, and sliced cucumbers handy to add to my water or tea when I need a flavor kick.
7. When it comes to working out, there is such a thing as working out to much. I have a facebook friend who always posts about being on her second or third workout for the day. A) I don't know who has that much extra time on their hands, but B) Your body needs time to recover from workouts. You need to let your muscles heal and let your body rest. Also don't forget to stretch after your workouts. Flexibility is a big part of fitness. You want your body to still be agile as you age. Always end your workout with stretching or some yoga poses.
8. A multi-vitamin is not going to cut it. Aim to get your vitamins from food sources. Eat plenty of fruits and veggies throughout your day. If you are going to take a supplement, take an omega 3 like fish oil or flax seed oil. This will help keep your heart healthy and your skin looking beautiful. I prefer flax seed oil because fish oil left a weird aftertaste for me and I always worry about mercury content.
9. Get enough sleep. Studies show, we need 7-9 hours a night. I know that is really hard for most women especially if you have children. I am so guilty of not getting enough sleep sometimes and it shows not just under my eyes, but how my brain works throughout the day. I personally have a hard time turning my brain off at night and can't quit thinking about work, the wedding, or my growing to do list. I sometimes take a melatonin supplement to help me fall asleep faster and actually stay asleep. It's natural and non habit forming. It's definitely worth researching if you have sleep issues.
10. And last but not least, love your body. God only gave you one so take care of it. Don't abuse it by eating junk, smoking, or yo yo dieting. Simply eat a healthy diet of "real" foods, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and for crying out loud quit drinking cokes! And always remember that no two bodies are the same.
I hope someone finds something helpful from this! I am by no means saying that I have all the answers here but I just think it's important to start focusing on healthy lifestyles and not fad diets.
Happy Wednesday night lovelies!