7 Tips for Healthier Lifestyle Choices
These seven tips by Naturopathic Doctor Dr. Sigrid Grosby equips you with the information you need to keep your health on track year-round.
1. Watch your portion sizes when it comes to carbohydrates.
Restaurants do not encourage us to eat healthily – the “pasta primavera” you might order tends to be made up of 80% spaghetti and 20% vegetables instead of the other way around! While you can eat as much protein or healthy fats as you would like, it might be best to limit the refined carbohydrates that are on your plate.
2. Watch out for milk.
Many of us easily drink a few glasses of milk per day, as we think it is a healthy habit. While milk does provide us with some calcium, it is still mostly made up of the sugar. It negatively affects our blood sugar levels and as a heavily processed animal product, it’s not the best source of calcium. Try a non-dairy milk alterative instead made with almond, soy, rice or hemp.
3. Experiment with stevia.
Our taste buds are conditioned to sweet tastes. This is why limiting treats and desserts are a challenge for many of us. Stevia helps with our cravings for sweets without the calorie drawback. This South American plant has a leaf that is naturally very sweet without actually containing any sugar! It’s basically nature’s aspartame. Buy it at the health food store and sweeten your coffee, tea or homemade healthy desserts with it. A bottle of the extract will last your family for a long time, as even a small drop tastes incredibly sweet!
4. Manage your stress levels.
When talking about weight control, we often only mention diet and exercise. A third factor worth considering is our stress levels. When we are chronically stressed with a high-pressure job or a never-ending to-do list, our body produces cortisol. This hormone triggers the conversion of starch stored in the liver into sugar. As a result, our cortisol-triggered increase in blood sugar levels simply leads to… all that unused sugar that gets converted in fats.
5. Examine your list of medications.
If you are taking certain types of medications, these may impinge on your efforts to lose weight. Certain anti-depressants are well known for having weight gain as a side effect. Hormonal treatments such as the birth-control pill can also encourage the body to put on pounds. Talk to your doctor about weaning off these medications or switching to more holistic treatments that catalyze the body’s natural chemical reaction instead of altering the body’s chemistry.
6. Integrate exercise in your daily routine – not as a one-off event.
Many of us are conscious of the fact that we are too sedentary. However, when trying to lose weight, we tend to turn to the gym as a one-off, exceptional event. We convince ourselves that we will go regularly, but often, after one session at the gym, we overdo it so much that we spend the next four days with terrible muscle soreness… and never go again! It is important to integrate exercise in your everyday routine – whether at the gym or with an activity you enjoy instead of high-intensity, infrequent bouts. Turn exercise in a group event with your friends and/or loved ones with group exercise classes. 7Cycle and Eat Train Love have fun yet challenging classes to make workouts something to look forward to. Listen to your body and remember that with exercise it is better to do it a little less intensely but more often, rather than the opposite.
7. Be a smart shopper and read food labels.
When going grocery shopping, read food labels. Avoid low-fat products, which tend to be much higher in carbohydrates (added in for palatability, as low-fat products tend to be rather tasteless) and therefore trigger an insulin spike. Read the detailed food label rather than trusting what it says at the front of the packaging. You will be surprised at how many food products appear healthy when looking at their packaging, but are actually full of sugar. If any of the top 5 ingredients of the list is either “sugar”, “high-fructose corn syrup” or any word that ends in “-ose” (e.g.: maltose, glucose, fructose, dextrose…)…then you should probably avoid this product, as it would trigger an insulin spike and encourage weight gain. Check your child’s breakfast cereal – these often sound very healthy (“with 9 vitamins and minerals”) when they are, in reality, filled with processed sugar.
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