In This Chapter
Finding ways to eat well at any life stage
Navigating life’s changes in a health way
Capitalizing on nutrients instead of cravings
Visualizing foods that make you happy
Who doesn’t need inspiration while on the road to total body health and wellness? They key is following a path that’s in sync with your lifestyle at every life stage. Tastes change, hormones fluctuate, and nutritional needs shift as life’s landscape expands into new territory. Recalibrating your Total Body Diet plan with the changing tides will help you maintain realistic expectations regardless of your stage in life. In this chapter, I give you ten tips for sticking to the Total Body Diet for years to come.
Taking It One Day at a Time
You really only have this moment. Yesterday is in the past, and tomorrow is still yet to unfold, but today is yours for the taking. The sooner you find joy in the here and now, the better. According to Present Perfect, by Pavel Somov, PhD, finding compassion and self-acceptance is a gift you give yourself every day — like a treasure you open on your birthday. Think of the joy that moment brings!
When you feel overwhelmed by the day or disheartened because your eating wasn’t in tip-top shape, take a moment and do the following:
· Breathe in and out. In the practice of meditation, breathing is a way to calm the central nervous system, refocus your attention, and find gratitude in the moment. Meditation For Dummies, 3rd Edition, by Stephan Bodian (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.), has a variety of breathing exercises, including a CD for guided meditation. Here’s a simple one you can try: Breathe in through the nose for a count of four, and then exhale through the nose for a count of four. Repeat for a few minutes.
· Journal your feelings. Journaling is an effective way of grounding yourself, moving on with your behavior change, and re-evaluating your goals. It helps you focus on this moment, this day. Journaling can help you stick to your Total Body Diet plan by identifying your missteps, addressing what happened, and planning to respond differently in the future.
· Take tea time. A cup of tea soothes the soul. Whether it’s hot or cold, sipping tea gives you a reprieve from the hassles of your day. Plus, green tea is packed with antioxidant compounds, primarily one called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which is believed to help defend the body’s cells against cancer.
Relishing the Small Successes
Although bigger seems better in today’s world, it’s really the small stuff that matters. Ordering grilled chicken instead of fried, taking a ten-minute walk on your lunch break, tossing an apple in your work bag for a snack — all these small steps add up. And it’s not just about the calories you’re saving and burning; the action you take leads to a chain reaction of small successes that lead to healthy habits in the long run.
Relishing small successes requires being aware of the tiny seeds you’re sowing every day. Take five-minutes at the end of every day to jot down everything you did that day that contributed to your healthy eating and living goals. Small things like bringing your own lunch to work (and avoiding eating out) or walking to/from work or choosing fruit as a snack over candy add up to big results.
Visualizing Your Goal
Your mind’s eye is such a powerful player in making your dreams and goals come true. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it simply: “When there is no vision, people perish.” Your Total Body Diet goals are unique to you. Whether your goal is to lose weight, fend off disease, or cook healthier meals for your family, putting a picture to your goal helps.
Visualize what’s on your plate — either your literal food plate or your figurative life plate. If you could have the plate of your dreams, what would be on it? It doesn’t have to be food necessarily, but for the purposes of the Total Body Diet, it should take into account mental and physical health. Maybe it’s a fulfilling career, more energy, a sense of happiness, or the drive to declutter your kitchen to make room for cooking healthier meals? Draw a large circle on a piece of paper to represent your plate. Then write or draw your desired goal(s) on that plate.
Here’s another quick visualization exercise:
1. Get into a comfortable position in a quiet place.
2. Clear your mind of the chatter of extra thoughts.
3. Imagine achieving (or having) your desired goal.
4. Think about how you’ll feel when you’ve attained your goal.
This step is a key component of visualization!
When you have felt what it’s like to reach your goals, repeat this exercise over and over again.
Eating Healthful Food First
It’s hard to get away from manufactured food products because they’re easy to find and typically inexpensive. According to the Food Marketing Institute, the average number of items carried in a supermarket is 43,844 — and you can bet that many of those items are manufactured food products. That’s not to say that manufactured foods are all unhealthy, but minimally processed foods are better! What do I mean by minimally processed? Think vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, lean sources of protein, and lowfat or fat-free dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. If you eat healthful foods first, you won’t have a lot of room in your stomach for more processed food products.
This tip is simple to say but hard to do. So how can you make this a habit when you’re bombarded with processed foods in just about every supermarket? Here are some strategies for making it through the grocery store with a cart full of healthful foods:
· Stick to your grocery list. Planning creates purpose (and helps overcome impulse shopping).
· Don’t go to the grocery store hungry. If you’re hankering for something, everything looks good!
· Read food labels. Make sure to read those labels before you put those items in your cart (not after you bring them home).
· Don’t fall for sales. Just because you can get brownies or soda or chips on sale doesn’t mean that’s a healthy bargain!
Bouncing Back from a Bump in the Road
Bumps are part of every journey, including the Total Body Diet one. The problem comes in when a bump — a night out where overeating ensues, indulging in cookies at work, or stopping for fast food because you didn’t plan ahead — throws you off track.
How do you keep yourself from spiraling out of control when things don’t go the way you hoped? First, forgive yourself — treat yourself with the same kindness you would show your best friend. Second, remember that the practice of healthy eating is just that: a continual practice that isn’t perfect. The sooner you get back on the journey of healthy eating, the sooner you’ll feel better.
No food is off limits unless it’s a trigger (a food that sets off overindulgent behavior). If you struggle with this concept, talk to a registered dietitian and/or clinical psychologist who specializes in disordered eating.
Being Open to New Foods
The Total Body Diet is not a rigid food plan. In fact, it’s just the opposite — it encourages you to eat an array of healthy foods from vegetables, fruits, grains, proteins, and dairy products, plus healthful fats. To get enough variety in your diet, you may have to try new foods from each of these groups.
If you’ve never had kiwi or papaya or mandarin oranges, break out of your fruit rut and go for it! If artichoke hearts, broccoli rabe, and baby kale aren’t part of your normal routine, give them a try!
If you’re a meat eater, try some plant-based proteins like tofu (soybean curd), edamame (whole soybeans), and quinoa (an ancient grain). You may not even miss the meat — and you’ll have some good protein alternatives that are lower in saturated fat and jam-packed with plant nutrients.
If you’re a dairy fan, why not try kefir, a cultured milk product? Not only will you get probiotics (friendly bacteria that promote good digestive health), but you’ll get a good amount of protein and calcium, too.
Before you know it, as your incorporate new, healthy foods, you’ll start to crave these foods that you wouldn’t have dreamed of eating before — and you’ll find it easier to stick to the Total Body Diet.
Making Sure Your Hormones Don’t Rule Your Life
Hormones, especially the sex hormones, get a bad rap for a lot in life — and for good reason. From the moment puberty strikes, it’s easy to blame weight gain and cravings on the surge of estrogen (the primary sex hormone in females) and testosterone (the primary sex hormone in males). Acne, voice changes, and hair growth on armpits and legs sneak up on pubescent adolescents. For women, during pregnancy and afterward into menopause, hormones are key players in mood and behavior.
The more aware you are of how your hormonal changes affect you, the better. For example, if you know that you crave sweets at a certain time of the month, prepare for it — allow yourself a chocolate treat or pastry from your favorite bakery and then be done.
Hormones like cortisol, which your adrenal glands release when your stress levels flair up, may affect your eating behaviors, mood, and weight. A study in the journal European Eating Disorders Review found increased cortisol levels to be linked to stress eating (consuming food or beverages when you aren’t necessarily hungry, but as a reaction to what’s happening in your life). The researchers found that women over 45 years old with more chronic stress and higher cortisol levels ate fewer vegetables, consumed more food at a buffet, and had more comfort food cravings — all leading to eating more calories and weight gain.
How can you fend off cravings and weight gain, whether they’re caused by sex hormones or stress hormones? Eat balanced meals, with no skipping or skimping. Try to include a healthy protein and fat source with every meal and snack. For example, for breakfast have a piece of whole-grain toast with nut butter and a piece of fruit; for lunch, try a wrap with avocado, lettuce, tomato, and a lean protein, such as tuna.
Physical activity is a natural hormone regulator. Moving your body not only improves your mood, but also regulates eating, suppresses cravings, and helps keep weight in check, which in turn helps regulate insulin levels and staves off type-2 diabetes.
Understanding Your Aging Body
Aging is a normal part of life: As soon as you’re born, your cells begin to age. The cells you have at birth are not the same ones you have as an adult. According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), genetics plays a huge role in how we age. Numerous genes are implicated in the normal aging process.
The good news is that older adults are healthier today than ever before, but the risk of diseases and other conditions increases as you get older. Although the process of aging is still not fully clear, one thing is: Your genes, environment, and lifestyle play a big role in how you age. But you can affect change in these areas. What you eat can affect change in your genetic code!
A relatively new area of study called nutritional genomics is the study of diet-genome interactions as they relate to chronic disease. It’s personalized nutrition at its best!
To keep your cells healthy longer, eat antioxidant-rich foods. Antioxidants (vitamins A, C, E, selenium, and carotenoids) defend cells against the oxidative damage of scavengers called free radicals.
Which foods are rich in antioxidants? Colorful fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and eggs. (Egg yolks are high in lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that deposit in the retina of the eye and help fend off age-related macular degeneration!)
Plant chemicals like resveratrol in the skin of grapes have been shown to be beneficial in fending off vascular inflammation, decreasing the rate of cardiovascular aging. Through a complex process, resveratrol activates cardiac and vascular cellular antioxidant enzymes, which helps lessen damage from free radicals, protecting the heart muscle cells from aging.
Before you go out and drink copious amounts of red wine, remember that you can get too much of a good thing. If you’re a woman, aim for one 5-ounce glass of wine a day; if you’re a man, two 5-ounce glasses is your max. Too much vino can increase your risk for heart disease.
Keep your cell hydrated with water. Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces every day (for example, if you weigh 200 pounds, you should try to get 100 ounces of water a day).
Get physical activity daily — the more you move, the less function you’ll lose in your muscles, joints, and ligaments. And you retain your flexibility, too!
Eating Well for Baby and You
Pregnancy is an amazing time in the life of a woman. With your whole body changing and transforming comes new nutritional opportunities and challenges. For many women, this may be the first time health has become a big consideration — having a baby growing inside you is life changing (literally!).
Eating well is vital during pregnancy. Here are some ways to ensure you get adequate nutrition during pregnancy:
· Eat enough calories, but don’t go overboard. Factor in an extra 340 calories per day during your second trimester and an extra 452 calories per day during your third trimester. That’s not a lot. Here are some options that fall in that calorie range:
· A medium piece of fruit with a tablespoon of nut butter
· An English muffin with a slice of cheese
· 1 cup of plain nonfat or lowfat yogurt with 1 cup of berries and ¼ cup of chopped walnuts
· Get a variety of healthy foods from all the food groups. Planning balanced meals and snacks is important when you’re pregnant. Get colorful vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins (from plant and animal sources), as well as lowfat dairy products every day.
Watch out for fish — steer clear of the large fish: shark, tilefish, king mackerel, and swordfish. Plus, due to its mercury content, limit white albacore tuna to 6 ounces per week.
To get a daily meal plan for pregnancy from the USDA, check out www.choosemyplate.gov/supertracker-tools/daily-food-plans/moms.html.
· Get regular, moderate physical activity. During pregnancy, exercise helps keep blood pressure, blood sugar, and weight gain in a healthy range. Physical activity also keeps muscles and ligaments limber to prepare you for a smooth labor and delivery! Although, pregnancy is not the time to start a rigorous workout routine, getting activity is important. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, pregnant women should aim for at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity spread throughout the week. Walking, prenatal yoga, and Pilates all work well.
Saying No When You Need To
Social connection is a healthy part of life, bringing happiness and fostering well-being. So, it makes sense that the Total Body Diet approach advocates a healthy social life. However, if your family, friends, or co-workers are causing you to overeat (or drink too much alcohol) or miss your workouts, it’s time to reevaluate. In my counseling practice, I often tell my clients that it’s okay to say no to social invitations. I don’t want you to be holed up in your home alone, but I do want you to be discerning with your time.
Here some ways to know when it’s time to say no:
· You’ve gone out two nights in a row, and the third invitation is there.
· You haven’t been able to work out for three consecutive days due to social events.
· You haven’t been able to get to the grocery store all week and plan healthy meals.
· You’re giving into cravings more because you’re eating on the run.
If you’re declining too many social events or isolating yourself frequently, that’s not healthy, either. Finding the right balance between social and alone time is important for your self-esteem and overall well-being. Just knowing you have a choice is empowering!
How about making your healthy lifestyle a part of your social life? Meet a friend for a brisk walk or join an exercise class together. Get together with friends for a cup of tea and challenge each other with a goal-planning session; then meet regularly to keep each other in check (and talk about life!). Go for an after-work run with your buddies instead of meeting for drinks. The Total Body Diet plan works best when it’s part of your life!