Six Tips To Get 2017 Back on Track

Image: Jason Briscoe

Image: Jason Briscoe

How are those New Year’s Resolutions treating you? Many of my patients took on January detox diets to try and erase the sins of the last holiday season, and start the year off with clean eating. One of my patients was even doing a 30 day “no sugar” challenge.

While I love to see people taking positive steps towards healthy living, I’m also always thinking long term.

Eating healthy shouldn’t just be something you do out of guilt in January, it should be something you can easily maintain all year long.

The see-saw of complete indulgence and then harsh restriction (when we start to cleanse or detox in the new year) isn’t just unpleasant: it can be unnecessarily hard on the body.

And THEN there’s all the research that proves what we all know in our hearts: diets don’t work. Only changing your lifestyle will give you the health (and waistline) you’re after.

I don’t mean to be a party pooper, and, as I’ve mentioned, this is (still) a great time of year to set yourself up for health and wellness in the new year. February is still the younger part of the year!

Check out my simple tips below to help get 2017 back on track.

 

Sugar

It can taste soooo good, but it’s so bad for you: too many refined sugars in our diets can cause diabetes, metabolic syndrome, inflammation, weight gain, fatigue, stress of the liver and kidneys and so on. Ugh.

If you can do a 30-day sugar cleanse (or better yet, longer than that) I applaud you!

Unfortunately for most of my patients who have hectic lives juggling jobs, kids and family responsibilities, staying away from refined sugar can be a real challenge.

Now here’s my disclaimer for all those with a sweet-tooth (including myself): sugar doesn’t have to be all bad. It’s the types of sugars you consume that can do the damage.

Go ahead and do that strict 30-day sugar cleanse this month, then binge on muffins and chocolates by the time Valentine’s Day comes around.

Or, you can try integrating some of these substitutions in your day-to-day life, and maintain these new habits for the rest of the year:

1. Go for fruit

Fruit sugars (blueberries, pear, kiwi, apple) that are in their natural forms are the easiest for the body to consume, and having 2-3 servings of fruit per day is very healthy for you.

2. Watch for sneaky hidden sugars

Flavoured yogurts, pasta sauces, and fruit juices are just a few places sugar can hide out in otherwise relatively healthy foods. So read your labels! And do your best to make what you can from scratch.

3. Bake your own

I always encourage my patients to bake their own treats. That way you can control how much sugar goes into the recipe, and can choose different, healthier kinds of sugar.  Coconut sugar, maple syrup, stevia or honey are excellent substitutes for white sugar or use half the amount of sugar the recipe calls for.

 

Fats

Include good fats in your diet.  Don’t always assume that low fat products are the answer to weight loss.  If fat is removed from a product, then sugar is usually added to improve taste.

Healthy fats include:

  • coconut oil
  • olive oil
  • avocados
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • flax
  • grape seed
  • borage
  • black currant
  • evening primrose and fish oils
  • eggs and animal fats (free range and grass-fed of course!)

 

Move Your Body!

There’s no way around it: you have to exercise to burn calories and body fat. The best way to permanently lose weight is slowly and steadily.

Incorporate both resistance (weight) training and aerobic (cardiovascular) exercise into your program.  Find activities that you love and will stick with long term. Sign up for an exercise class with a friend to motivate each other!

The combination of both cardio and weight training is the most effective way to change your body composition over time.

 

Check out Your Hormones

January is a great time to visit your health care provider to be proactive about your health!

If you’ve been feeling more tired, not sleeping well, or having trouble losing weight, there may be an underlying hormonal imbalance. Checking your thyroid, adrenals, blood sugars, and iron levels are good places to start if you’re not feeling your best.

 

Protein

Have some protein with every meal, including every snack. This will help to keep blood sugars and stress hormones stable.

Protein doesn’t necessarily mean only meat; there are lots of forms, including:

  • beans
  • organic yogurt
  • free-range eggs
  • nuts and seeds
  • quinoa

Include The Essentials

There are some basic vitamins and minerals that I believe are fundamental for good health.

These include:

  • omega 3s from fish oil
  • vitamin D
  • vitamin C
  • magnesium
  • probiotics
  • at least 35 grams of FIBRE daily (ground flax, chia, hemp, psyllium, oat bran, buckwheat, fruits/veggies etc.)

Not sure if you’re getting these in your diet? Visit a nutritionist or naturopathic doctor, and find out! Supplementation can also be a great way to cover your basics.

 

Rather than putting your body through the ups-and-downs of restrictive diets and detoxes, try a gentler approach for maximum, long-lasting good health!

 

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