It’s so important to be and maintain a healthy weight, yet I feel the whole ‘weight loss’ saga is a bit out of control. Too many people are focussed on their weight and wanting to be thin or skinny, but they are not focussed on their health. They want a diet that stills enables them to eat their favourite bad foods. Being healthy should be of upmost importance to everyone. If we are all as healthy as we can be, then we don’t need to worry about weight. We would naturally be a healthy weight, feel great and protect ourselves from disease.
It’s also not ideal for people to purely concentrate on weight and not the exercise they do or the foods they consume. Have you heard of TOFI? It means Thin Outside Fat Inside. Just because someone is thin, it doesn’t mean they are healthy. It’s still possible for a thin person to have far too much fat on their insides surrounding their organs which puts them at risk of terrible diseases, the same as an overweight person.
Instead everyone should concentrate on eating the most nutritious diet, for life, and regularly exercising. There are too many fad diets out that just don’t work. A healthy lifetime diet is the best way. A diet filled with plant based foods and wholefoods. By wholefoods I mean wholemeal unrefined grains. White foods are not healthy. White foods such as white bread, white pasta and white rice have had all the good stuff, including the vitamins and minerals removed. These foods will spike your blood sugars too quickly and cause any excess sugars to be converted to fat.
Wholefoods are as they should be: real food. They still contain the vitamins and minerals naturally and fibre. The fibre helps the sugars to be released more slowly to your blood meaning it won’t be spiked. You’ll feel fuller for longer as the energy is released slower over a longer period of time, meaning your body can cope with it.
Being a healthy weight and maintaining it means dedicating yourself to a healthy way of life. It’s so obvious that drinking shakes or eating soup only for a few weeks will enable you to lose weight quickly, but as soon as you return to your normal diet it will come back. Even everyone’s favourite everything in moderation diet is questionable!
Instead choose a healthy diet all the time full of a variety of different coloured fruits, veggies, wholegrains, beans, nuts and seeds. There is no magic pill for being able to lose stones of weight and to still be able to eat unhealthily and maintain the weight loss. Plus, I think this is the wrong way to look at it. People should not focus on weight, but on health instead. Everyone should do this, regardless of their current size. Skinny doesn’t equal healthy.
Here are some natural ways and lifestyle choices that will help you to lose weight and maintain it:
Stop drinking alcohol
Alcohol is what they call ‘empty calories’. It’s full of calories but has no nutritional value. It’s just no good for you. It’s a poison and puts your liver to work every time you drink it to metabolise it – your poor liver! Plus it is first metabolised into a known carcinogen called acetaldehyde, then to acetate before it’s eventually broken down into carbon dioxide and water (source). You’ve probably seen the news recently that no amount of alcohol is safe and every alcoholic drink is as risky as smoking a cigarette? Yet everyone still does it.
If you want to lose weight and maintain it (plus be a lot healthier) then you should consider giving up alcohol altogether or at least reducing your intake. Alcohol can cause weight gain too. If there is acetate in your body from alcohol then this will be used as energy first before anything else in your body. The body will favour acetate as energy over anything else already present in your body. So other foods or energy stores already present in your body will not be used, but instead remain as fat stores or be converted into fat stores (source).
It’s also pretty well known that alcohol makes you hungrier. As someone who used to drink alcohol I know I could eat a proper meal before a night on the town, and then easily polish off a takeaway on the way home. In fact I’d be craving the takeaway every time I drank alcohol!
One of the best explanations for all the dangers of sugar can be seen in this YouTube video by Dr Robert Lustig. It was one of the first videos I watched about sugar and how the way it’s metabolised in our bodies means it is a poison. The sugar in question is refined sugar and added sugar. We are all consuming too much and it has disastrous consequences.
There are so many health dangers of consuming this excess unnaturally present sugar, but let’s look at weight gain. If you do not use the energy from sugar then it will be converted to and stored as fat. Yep. So ignore all those labels that say ‘low fat’ ‘no fat’ ‘fat free’ and check the ingredients. The likelihood is if the fat has been removed then they have replaced it with a type of sugar. This sugar is then going to get converted to fat unless you burn it all off instantly, so these fat free claims on labels are really quite misleading. Excess sugar consumption causes weight gain.
Research the different names for sugar as it has over 60! That means you might not recognise that it’s instantly in a processed food as you don’t realise a certain word in an ingredients list really means sugar! Sneaky!
Avoid processed foods, junk foods, cakes, sweets, biscuits and fizzy pop. All of these are filled with sugar and will not help to maintain a healthy weight or provide very much nutrition at all.
I don’t believe in the whole ‘if you exercise you can eat what you want’ as that’s focussing on weight being the most important factor, whereas I believe health is the most important factor. Lots of people regularly say ‘oh I could eat what I wanted when I was young and never put weight on’. That’s still not healthy. You need to eat the right foods even if you have a good metabolism or even if you exercise lots. Plus if you eat the right foods then exercise will be easier and you’ll actually want to do it as your body will be fuelled for it!
Exercise will contribute to healthy weight loss and maintaining it, but only in conjunction with a healthy nutritious mostly plant based diet. Exercise also makes you feel brilliant and sleep better, so there are several benefits to it for overall health and not just weight control. Even if you reach a desired weight it should remain part of a lifestyle choice for all its benefits.
Check the scales everyday
A simple but effective trick to maintain your weight and stop reaching for the chocolate bars is to weigh yourself every morning. Keep a set of scales in the bedroom or bathroom and hop on first thing to check your weight. Seeing the number right there every day can influence your decisions throughout the day when it comes to food choices. If the numbers start to creep up daily you know to cut back on the snacking. If you’re losing weight then it will motivate you to keep going with your healthier lifestyle as you see the numbers go down every day.
Focus on health, not weight
I said it a few times, but I really believe the key to success as a healthier less obese nation is to start focusing on health and not on weight. By singling out weight, people are trying to lose weight unhealthily and by attempting short fix fad diets. A healthy weight should be part of a long term healthy lifestyle goal. It shouldn’t be achieved by suddenly starving the body of nutrition.
Everyone should focus on eating the most nutritious foods and treating their body as it deserves to be treated. Our bodies are incredible mechanisms and healing systems. By giving ourselves the right foods and the right quantities we can ensure we maintain a healthy weight and we are actually healthy both inside and out. It will mean less chance of disease and illness too. If you look after your body, it will look after you.
Leave no room for bad food
If you’re eating plenty of fresh fruits and veggies you’ll leave no room for junk food or bad choices. I don’t believe 5-a-day is enough and instead we should be aiming for 10+ if we eat three meals per day. Try adding 2-3 portions per meal and snack only on fruit and veg between meals if you get peckish. This way you’ll see how easy it is to get 10 a day. Yet shocking statistics reckon 70% of adults don’t get their 5 a day (source)! Crazy.
Fill half to three-quarters if your plate with fruit, veg or salad each meal time and you’ll be on the right track. Plus by eating so much of the good stuff, you’ll leave no room for the bad stuff. Win-win.
See also: Why everyone should eat organic food