By Carlee Frank
It’s week five of a Healthier 2018 You, and I hope your mind and body are feeling the improvements! Did you implement stretching into your daily routine last week? You might have reached into your first stretch only to realize you could barely touch your calves—but don’t be disheartened. Each time you stretch you will feel your muscles loosening and your mobility increase. So keep at it!
Today, we’re diving back into healthy dieting. So many of us want to lose weight, fit into our “goal jeans” or slim down for the summer, so we look for a quick fix. These are the fad diets of the 21st century— the juice cleanses, crash diets and restrictive diets, just to name a few. Food companies also market a plethora of “diet food” on the grocery store shelves such as protein bars and fat free yogurts. Well, I’m here to debunk most and instead give you tips for a truly healthy diet.
First of all, let’s talk about juice cleanses and juice fasts. They surged up in the 1990s and again in the late 2000s. There are countless brands that promote total body detox, rapid weight loss and glowing skin. While juicing does deliver recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals, it also delivers concentrated amounts of sugar and calories without the necessary protein to build tissue or fiber for the digestive system. So, while adding a juice to your day—usually with two to three servings of fruits and vegetables—can bring much needed nutrients, prolonged juice cleanses are dangerous. Three, five or 10-day juice fasts can cause muscle loss, electrolyte imbalance and affect blood-sugar levels. Therefore, juice in moderation.
Onto the next fad –calorie restrictive diets. The popular myth that eating very little amounts of food or depriving the body of calories will cause weight loss is just that, a myth.
“A paper published in the May 2010 issue of Psychosomatic Medicine warns that clinical data strongly link excess calorie restriction to weight gain due to increases in cortisol. Hormonal checks and balances are thrown off when the body is put under stress, which promotes fat storage.” (Livestrong)
Excessive calorie restriction can also lead to muscle loss, due to inefficient amounts of protein, fatigue and fat gain.
While there are way too many crash diets and high sugar fat-free “diet foods” to discuss, I would never recommend restricting nutrients from your body to lose weight. Instead, remember that the body is a complex and interconnected unit. It requires daily amounts of vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats and, yes, carbs. Visit a nutritionist to discover how many calories you should be eating a day in order to maintain or lose weight, and what types of food your body needs to remain healthy. A nutritionist can help you develop a personalized weight loss plan.
If you cannot meet with a nutritionist, here are some online tools: the Harris Benedict Equation for personal caloric requirements (bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/harris-benedict-equation/) and daily nutritional requirements for Americans (health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/chapter-2/a-closer-look-at-current-intakes-and-recommended-shifts/).
Most importantly, I return to my week one No. 1 tip, which is to ask yourself, “How can this be healthier?” So often we eat whatever we can get our hands on, skip meals because we’re too busy and later over-eat in compensation. Asking yourself how your meal or grocery haul can be healthier challenges you to stop and reconnect with your food. Maybe that means switching chips for sliced vegetables and hummus, or skipping that box of cookies entirely. It might also mean meal prepping so you don’t miss meals throughout the day. No matter how you achieve this goal, I challenge you to ignore those quick fix diets and instead make a lifestyle change. You are worth it!
Next week we will discuss different exercise methods, and which work best for you. See you then!