Weight loss is a hot topic, especially at the end of the holidays. Unfortunately, not everyone goes about it in a healthy manner. The key to lasting weight loss is losing the pounds gradually through a combination of healthy eating and a balanced diet. Here are 10 ways you can shed pounds without compromising your health in the process.
1. Replace Soft Drinks with Water
A serious contributor to excess calories is soda and sugary beverages in general. With the average American consuming 245 calories a day from soda, this can quickly lead to extra pounds.
That?s why it?s smart to cut them out and drink water instead.
Many people believe that switching to diet or zero sugar versions is a good way to cut down on calories. Many artificial sweeteners are made using a chemical known as aspartame that is highly toxic to humans.
Aspartame has been linked to fibromyalgia, diabetes and even certain forms of cancer. Ditching the fizzy drinks once and for all is far better for your health, and there are a wide range of alternatives available.
Fresh fruit smoothies, green juices and coconut milk shakes are all packed with vitamins and minerals that will support your overall health during your diet. If you buy readymade smoothies, ensure they do not contain cream or added sugar.
You can dice fresh fruits such as strawberries, grapes, blueberries and oranges and add them to purified water. Leave in the fridge overnight for a really healthy flavoured water.
Try to avoid vitamin waters or those with fruit flavourings as they usually have some sugar or artificial sweetener added to them.
2. Get Plenty of Rest
Failure to get a good night?s sleep can wreak havoc on your body and cause a fluctuation in hormones which can lead to food cravings.
Getting a solid eight hours will make you feel better and should curb your appetite. When we feel tired, our blood sugar level drops, and we are far more likely to reach for something containing fat or sugar for a burst of energy.
Coffee, tea or even a chocolate bar can perk you up for short time, but will inevitably lead to a crash which will result in an even greater sense of fatigue. Getting the correct amount of sleep can be a challenge for many people.
Work, stress, family life or even going out with friends can result in us burning the candle at both ends. Those with a full schedule can also find it difficult to relax at night and will lay awake going over the events of the day in their head.
Try to make your bedroom a relaxing, sacred space that is free of television, computers and smartphones. Never eat in bed or perform any kind of activity that your bed was not designed for. Avoid caffeine after midday, and eat a light meal in the evening to promote better sleep.
3. Eat Smaller Meals More Often
One of the best ways to control hunger is to avoid binging on two or three meals a day. This tends to make you eat more to satisfy your hunger. Instead, it?s better to eat five or six smaller meals over the course of a day.
Doing so should keep you full, and your cravings shouldn?t be as intense. Many celebrities such as Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow swear by this technique.
It is ideal for those who find themselves tempted to snack during the day as it helps you feel full for much longer.
Try to establish a timetable, and stick to it in order to avoid starving yourself at certain times of the day. The meals should be spaced out at regular intervals and consist of a balance of protein, carbohydrates and plenty of fresh fruit or vegetables.
If you find it difficult to eat during the day due to your job, pack some bananas, oat bars or even just a handful of nuts to keep hunger cravings at bay.
Eating this way is also much kinder to your digestive system and will help reduce bloating, gas and fluid retention, and other gastrointestinal complaints. You will also see your energy levels and mental focus begin to improve.
4. Check Labels of Fat Free Foods
Sometimes, foods that are fat-free or have zero trans fats end up exchanging their fat content for excessive sodium or sugar.
Always be sure to read the fine print on packaging to ensure this isn?t the case before eating these foods. Also keep an eye out for high levels of artificial sweeteners, additives and preservatives.
It is far better to avoid processed foods altogether than simply opting for the low-fat versions.
Readymade spaghetti sauces, soups and pizzas can never compare in taste and quality to those prepared from scratch in your own home.
Once you get the hang of preparing your own meals, it will not take up a large amount of your time. You can even prepare food in large batches and then freeze it for later use.
There is a wealth of information available on the internet that will teach you how to make everything from homemade ketchup to soup bases from fresh ingredients.
If you do not have the motivation to start cooking meals from scratch, do some research on the harmful effects of ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and monosodium glutamate (MSG).
Once you see the harm that these chemicals are doing to you and your family?s health, you will almost certainly want to cut them out of your diet.
5. Eat Healthy Snacks
Grabbing potato chips, candy bars and other junk foods can quickly lead to trouble.
Instead, opt for something healthier like peaches, pears and strawberries if you need to satisfy your sweet tooth.
With all the information out there regarding the harmful effects of consuming junk foods, there really is no excuse for anyone to be eating them on a daily basis.
Junk foods and sugary snacks are one of the leading causes of illness in the developed world, and many conditions can be reversed by switching to a healthier diet.
Serious medical conditions such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure and a wide number of auto-immune diseases are primarily caused by poor diet.
Detox your home by going throwing your kitchen and throwing out foods that contain nothing in the way of healthy vitamins or nutrients.
Stock up on fruit, nuts, legumes, vegetables seeds and dried fruits. If you have a sweet tooth, a fresh fruit platter with a drizzle of organic honey and low-fat yoghurt will satisfy even the strongest cravings.
Look for recipes online that show you how to make sugar-free cookies and nut bars using a combination of apple sauce, mashed banana and honey.
6. Take a Walk
Studies have shown that walking and other forms of exercise beyond 30 minutes can increase weight loss significantly more than stopping after half an hour.
Typically, a three mile walk will be sufficient and will also release endorphins to achieve an overall state of wellbeing.
If you are carrying a large amount of weight, start by taking a gentle stroll around your neighbourhood or local park. If you feel tired or dizzy, stop and rest for a few moments before continuing.
After a few weeks, you will gradually start to gain stamina and will be able to increase the length and intensity of your walk.
A brisk walk that incorporates some uphill terrain can provide a full body workout and will leave you feeling energised and refreshed.
Power walking has become a nationwide craze as it provides the elderly or those with a lower level of fitness with an easy and fun way to improve their health.
Once you have built up a good amount of strength and stamina, try taking it to the next level and go hiking whilst carrying a weighted backpack.
Hiking is a fun activity for the whole family. If you are lucky to live close to nature, it can provide a wonderful escape from the pressures of modern life.
7. Choose Mustard Over Mayonnaise
When choosing condiments to put on your sandwich, sticking with mustard instead of mayonnaise is an easy way to cut back your calorie intake. In fact, you can save an average of 85 calories by doing this.
Salad cream is also forbidden for those trying to lose weight as it contains even more fat than mayonnaise. Go for wholegrain or English mustard rather than the American style that contains a large amount of calories.
Other seemingly harmless spreads to avoid are peanut butter, cream cheese, butter and jams. Substitute these for healthier versions such as tahini, almond butter, honey and olive oil.
Although margarine is advertised as a low calorie alternative to butter, it is an extremely unhealthy food that undergoes an extreme amount of processing. It is usually made from genetically modified crops such as corn or soya that have been linked to a number of serious illnesses.
Drizzle a tablespoonful of olive oil over sandwiches instead of unhealthy spreads. Coconut oil is packed with healthy minerals and tastes great when added to salads, sandwiches and pasta dishes.
Try to find organic, cold-pressed coconut oil that has not undergone any form of pasteurisation that removes its natural minerals and fatty acids.
8. Keep Your Coffee Simple
While they may seem harmless, adding extras to your coffee like sugar, whole milk and whipped cream can be a catalyst for extra calories. That?s why drinking it black or only using skimmed milk is the best way to go.
Replacing coffee with herbal tea is the safest method as caffeine can contribute to high blood pressure, hypertension and increased levels of anxiety and stress.
However, many people simply cannot live without a caffeine fix, so try this healthy alternative instead.
Take a cup of almond milk and gently heat it using a small saucepan or a milk steamer if you have one. Add one or two teaspoons of honey depending on your personal taste, and then stir well.
Place a shot of espresso or strong black coffee in a mug, and slowly add the milk. Dust the top with some cinnamon and enjoy! If you prefer to drink your coffee black, then you can just leave out the milk and sweeten it with a little honey.
Stevia is another healthy, natural sweetener but it can be hard to find in its natural form. Stevia tablets or sachets are usually topped up with artificial sweeteners and best avoided. Check your local health food store for pure stevia powder.
9. Eat at Home
Restaurants and especially fast food places often jam pack their foods with calories, sugar and sodium. Many also have larger than necessary portions.
Cooking for yourself at home gives you more control over your diet and can save you money as well. If you cannot avoid eating out, then ask if you can be in charge of choosing the restaurant.
Vegetarian and vegan restaurants generally offer low calorie meals that are far more nutritious than dishes such as chicken curry or risotto.
Raw food restaurants are also appearing in many towns and you can go online to see if there is one near you. You could also organise pot luck dinners in your home where everyone is invited to bring along their own dish.
You can ensure that the dishes are healthy by giving each night a theme such as low calorie, vegetarian or sugar-free baking. These gatherings are a great way to discover new foods and pick up cooking tips from friends and family.
Cooking classes are another fantastic way to learn valuable cooking skills that will come in handy in the future. Apply for a variety of courses such as sushi, Thai cooking, vegan dishes, home baking and classes on how to preserve and ferment foods at home.
10. Have Active Social Outings
Rather than going to the movies or out to eat, go for a hike or take a walk in the park with friends. This is great way to socialize and stay healthy at the same time.
Many social activities revolve around food, so it is essential to explore new options to help you stick to your diet.
Fitness classes, poetry readings, museums, walking tours and art galleries are fun activities that do not involve sitting at a large table of food or a mandatory trip to the concession stand.
During summer, outdoor activities such as festivals, outdoor markets and concerts offer plenty of ways to have fun whilst walking or dancing off those extra pounds. Many cultures enjoy the experience of sitting down to enjoy a meal together, so it can be difficult to avoid this if you come from a family where food is an important part of everyday life.
However, you don?t have to indulge just because everyone else at the table is. Bring your own healthy dish to the gathering such as a salad, homemade hummus or a whole wheat pasta dish. Barbecues are also great opportunities to practice some healthy cooking.
Grilled fish and vegetables are delicious way to watch your waistline and get a good dose of nutrients at the same time.