How to have a Healthy Diet

You may have noticed that there are more overweight people. Studies show that much of our population is overweight due to inactivity, eating too many carbohydrates, too big portions, and not enough protein and healthy fats. We all must learn to eat to live and not live-to-eat.

The Basics

  1. To eat a healthy diet which in turn will help a person lose extra fat, you need good digestion. It is important to not drink anything within 20 minutes of eating and to eat slowly.
  2. Make sure that you drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water daily.
  3. It is important to be asleep by midnight at the latest to assure proper growth hormone production, which will assist in weight loss.
  4. Some people sleep better if they have a light snack within an hour of going to bed. For example, fruit , nuts, or yogurt.
  5. If you drink coffee, STOP. Due to the effect that it has on cortisol and insulin levels it is estimated to be able to add seven to ten pounds onto a person’s middle per year with just one daily. And no, decaf is not any better. Instead, try green tea which helps your body to burn fat.
  6. It is best to eat three meals daily and two snacks (mid afternoon and after supper). Feeling a little hungry before the next meal is normal and means that you are burning some fat. Expect to feel a little hungry for the first few weeks if you are used to eating more food than discussed below. Your stomach has been stretched and will let you know that it not being filled before it goes back to the size that it used to be. If you get really hungry quite a bit before your next meal you may either be eating too many carbs in one sitting or not enough protein. Try to keep your carbs and protein intake at a 1:1 ratio.
  7. Plateaus are common during weight loss and are actually necessary. During this time your body has a chance to re-absorb all of the blood vessels and nerve endings that it made to keep the fat that you shed alive. If, however, a plateau lasts more than a few weeks here are some tips to get you through it a little faster. Add more time or resistance to your exercise routines. The body adjusts when you perform the same exercises every day. Mix up your regimen by adding five pounds more to your strength training exercises, or another 10 minutes to your daily walk. Weigh yourself weekly, on the same day and at the same time of day.
  8. To figure out the heart rate range that you need to keep up while exercising to burn fat do the following calculations; subtract your age from 220 to find your maximum heart rate (MHR), multiply the MHR by 65% this is the lower range for your exercising heart rate, then multiply MHR by 85% this is the higher range, e.g. If a person is 35: 220-35= 185 MHR, 185 x 65%= 120 and 185 x 85%= 157, so the exercise heart rate range for this person is 120 to 157.
  9. Divide your plate into 3 sections protein being 1/3 of the plate and the rest of the plate being carbohydrates (non-starchy vegetables), ½ cup of a starchy food and a dash of good fat.

I grew up with a very bad diet, i.e. lots of junk food. To make this lifestyle change work, I have a “cheat day”. For me, this day is Friday; I allow myself to have one thing, like a big plate of pasta or a sweet or chips. You may want to adopt a similar day for yourself to keep you from rebelling and feeling like you are going without.

Protein

You need to have protein with everything that you eat as it stabilizes blood sugar. The key to weight loss and health is keeping blood sugar stable. A typical protein serving size is the size of the palm of your hand. A serving of egg would be two whole eggs or one whole egg and two egg whites.

If you are getting your protein from vegetable sources combine the following foods to get a complete protein from your food choices; grains and beans (e.g. rice and tofu), grains and nuts or seeds (e.g. almond butter sandwich), corn and beans (refried beans and corn chips). A serving size of beans or tofu would be ½ cup.

Any animal source protein should be low in fat. Milk products would count as a protein serving. An average serving size would be one cup.

Some types of fish are especially high in the essential fatty acids, which are great for the skin and decrease inflammation. To get a good amount of these fats eat three servings of the following fish per week; wild salmon (not farmed), sardines, herring, mackerel, tuna ( minimum intake due to higher mercury content ). Sockeye salmon is the best of all choices as it is the highest in good quality fats and is always wild.

Since protein effectively stabilizes blood sugar and takes longer to digest, it is a good idea to begin meals and snacks with the majority of your protein serving.

Carbohydrates

All carbohydrates stimulate the production of insulin (including vegetables and fruit). Excess insulin makes you fat and keeps you fat, accelerates aging and increases risk for chronic disease. You must consume carbs with every meal but the type, along with adequate protein, dictates how much insulin is secreted and how well the body performs for the next 4 to 6 hours. If you control insulin you’ll burn excess fat, control silent inflammation, reduce the risk of chronic disease and improve mental and physical performance.

The preferred form of carbs are fruits and vegetables. They are termed low-density carbohydrates, as they enter the bloodstream slowly and do not spike insulin levels. This means that you can consume large quantities of vegetables and fruits without worrying. Never limit yourself with foods like lettuce, celery, cucumber, radish and watercress. Eat lots!

A serving of starches, breads or high- density carbs would be ½ cup for squash, beets or carrots, one medium potato, ½ cup cooked rice or barley, ¼ cup hummus, etc…. For breads some serving sizes would be two rice cakes, one slice of bread, ½ of a large pita, ½ cup of hot or cold cereal or three cups of popped corn.

Here are some fruit servings; berries, one cup, banana, one small, cherries or grapes, 15 large, for small fruit like plums and kiwi, two is a serving and for melons, one cup.

Remember: For every carbohydrate that you eat you must have a protein; for example, a banana with nut butter.

If you have been a sweet eater there is a good chance that the fat you may be trying to eliminate has been put on by insulin spikes. If this is the case every time you have an insulin spike even if you are eating small portions and counting calories, the fat will not come off. To burn this fat you must eat foods that have a glycemic index below 50. For a complete list of these foods go towww.mendosa.com

Fat

Good fats send a signal to the brain that you are full, and acts as a brake on insulin production by slowing down carbohydrate entry into the bloodstream. Fats can not be made by the body and must be supplied in the diet.

Most of us know that saturated and transfatty acids are not good for us. With the theory now that most chronic illness is caused by chronic inflammation another type of fat which should be avoided in excess is arachidonic acid. This fat is also a potent insulin stimulator and is contained in fatty red meats, egg yolk and organ meats like liver.

One serving of fats and oils equals; one teaspoon of oil or butter, six whole nuts, one tablespoon of seeds, ¼ avocado or ½ tablespoon of a nut or seed butter.

Resources

If you need more help with making your lifestyle changeDr. Barry Sears, author of “The Zone”, has several books out where the diet plan is similar to what I have outlined. Dr. Andrew Weil has a great website that will send you inspirational emails daily for free and these include recipes.

For a diet very similar to “The Zone” but with more information regarding diets effects on skin see “The Perricone Prescription” by Dr. N. Perricone, M.D.