You can have a positive effect on your health with some simple, straightforward guidelines. These are health tips, not necessarily weight loss tips. But making sure your body has the nutrients, vitamins and minerals it needs is the first step to losing weight. A body lacking these essential elements is going to stay hungry and get hungrier the longer it lacks what it needs to thrive.
1. Microwave in glass. Pop-your frozen entree onto a glass plate or dish before microwaving. The thin plastic containers used for frozen foods have already been through several degradations when formed, then loaded with hot prepared food, and then frozen. The degradation of plastics caused by extreme heat and cold have been linked to cancer. If you must heat your food in them occasionally, do so, but NEVER reuse them over and over. The same advice goes for your plastic water bottle. Never freeze it!
2. Avoid aspartame and other sugar substitutes. Otherwise known as nutrasweet, aspartame was pronounced “safe” by the FDA only after political manipulation by the system in 1981. Although the government declared it safe for 20 years, they have now quietly downgraded it to “probably not safe” after several lawsuits were filed against the makers of popular vitamins, sodas, yogurts, and gums. Long-term studies show a direct correlation between its use and lung cancer in women, the primary users of sugar substitutes.
Think the newest sugar substitute is any better? Splenda, otherwise known as sucralose, is a molecule of sugar chemically bonded to chlorine. Yes, the same chemical that’s in your bleach and has been linked to breast cancer. Canada is considering banning chlorine bleach because of cancer studies there.
What’s more interesting is that sugar substitutes don’t even help you lose weight. There is substantial evidence showing that it alters a person’s ability to perceive sweetness and this is detrimental to determining your satisfaction level. The same studies show a rise in the use of sugar by people using sugar substitutes and positive weight loss when the substitutes are taken out of the diet.
3. Can the sodas. Sodas either offer you lots of high-fructose corn syrup (leading contributor to diabetes) or artificial sweeteners (their use correlates to higher cancer rates). Why play Russian roulette with these empty calorie drinks? Soda also dehydrates you so you actually need more water, not less, when drinking them. Why put dirty brown chemical water into your body?
4. Eat a minimum of 5-6 vegetables and fruits a day. The ONLY positive effect on pre-cancerous cells is a diet high in fruits and vegetables. 5-6 is a minimum.
5. Avoid white in your diet. Not the egg whites! You know the whites that are nutritionless: white flour, white sugar, potatoes. A baked potato, if topped with low-fat items might be OK once in a while but white flour and white sugar items like cookies, cake, donuts, scones, muffins and bagels add a ton of empty calories with no nutrition to your diet. You can literally eat these items all day and stay hungry. If you eat bread, make sure it is 100% whole wheat or whole grain.
6. Mind your fats. Not all fats impede weight loss. Good fats such as olive oil and omega-3 oils from fish like salmon and tuna give your body a positive boost in many ways. Avoid solid fats such as butter, lard and shortening. Another fat to avoid: anything used in a fast food restaurant where oils in deep fryers are often used way beyond any nutritional value.
7. Move every day. If you don’t currently exercise, start moving in some way for 10 minutes every day. Our bodies were meant to move and they shut down if they aren’t given a range of motion… joints and muscles begin to atrophy, backs stiffen up, hearts lose strength. Even the busiest executive can find 10 minutes in the beginning of a new fitness plan to take a short walk or hop on a stationary bike. Another alternative: put on some music and dance before your day begins or ends or even while making dinner. The idea is to make a start, however limited you think your time is.
8. Get into the sunshine. Yes, extreme exposure can cause skin damage but human beings need the vitamin D they get from the sun. Doctors are often prescribing megadoses of vitamin D because their patients have been using such a high level of sunblock that they wound up deficient in D. In the winter and in northern regions, this is especially important. If the sun peeks out on a grey winter day, run out and grab some rays — without sunglasses! Don’t look directly at the sun, however, just bask in the rays and, if temperatures allow, roll up your shirtsleeves and open your collar.
9. Avoid toxic people. Negativity breeds more negativity. Our bodies hear every thought we think so don’t get sucked into coworkers’, friends’ or family’s toxic venom. Your job is to maintain the best possible attitude about yourself, your health/fitness and the world in general. If you listen to negativity, jealousy and discontent all day, no wonder the gym doesn’t look inviting at 5 p.m.!
10. Address addictions. Feeling compelled to eat, drink or otherwise avoid life limits your power of choice. If you feel you cannot stop certain behaviors that are detrimental to your health and well-being, it may be an addiction. Addictions include food, alcohol, drugs, excuse-making, emotional drama, procrastination, TV, inactivity… anything that impacts your health in a negative way.
11. Pop a vitamin. A multi-vitamin cannot make up for poor food choices but it can help you get some of the nutrients you need. I recommend a quality multi from a reputable dealer, not drugstore type vitamins, which have been shown to have lots of fillers and ineffective ingredients. Good brands are Usana, Shaklee, Nature’s Sunshine. Women over 40 need calcium supplements as well.
12. Get plenty of sleep. First, you’ll need to determine how much you need. It will probably be between 7 and 10 hours per night for an adult. Only about half of Americans get the sleep they need each night. Lack of sleep is one of the biggest components of overeating. When you are not fully rested, you’ll eat more in an attempt to get the fuel you need to make it through the day. The truth, however, is that no amount of caffeine, sugar or fat will make up for inadequate sleep.
13. Nourish your soul in positive ways. What really feeds you at a soul level? What calms you and makes you feel valued? It might be a bath, a book, meaningful conversation, time alone, a nap, a cup of tea or playing with your kids or grandkids. The key is to discover what feeds your soul and makes you feel satisfied in life.
It may feel overwhelming to tackle all these changes at once. Changing one thing at a time is just as good, sometimes better, because that allows better focus and concentration on the change.
Which tip will you enact first? You have the power to make your future healthier and happier!