How to Control Yourself and Be Healthier!
By Maria Scunziano-Singh, M.D.
Are you truly ready to change your eating habits to become healthier and lose weight? Then the best place to start is with awareness. When you have a moment to yourself or have time to share with a confidant, stop, look, and reflect on why you have a “problem.” For instance, are you concerned about weighing too much? Do you eat too fast? Are you hooked or addicted to junk food? By defining the problem and staying objective about the situation, you can see that the problem is not insurmountable. If you need assistance, seek credible and professional advice. In the long run, you need a goal and a workable plan to accomplish better health and a better life.
ORGANIZE A PLAN
A plan will help structure the process and give you an incentive to work on the goal. Make your plan practical and something that you can adhere to.
Consider the following:
• Use a board, notebook, calendar, or your computer to structure an outline for noting dates, entering meals on a log or diary, your weight, blood pressure, pulse, and overall how you feel each day. When you write down or enter data about what you are doing, it has you really look at the habits you currently keep and the need for change becomes clarified.
• Set goals and make them reasonable for the pounds you wish to lose and when. Aim for at least one pound per week – This amounts to 3500 calories less per week, or about a 500 calorie drop per day. You can do this by taking in less and exercising more. You can lose two or more pounds per week, but the healthiest weight loss is one to two pounds per week.
• Give yourself rewards for achieving your goals such as a Spa Day or a good massage. You decide when those rewards would work!
TRANSFORM YOUR KITCHEN & ALL YOUR FOOD EXPERIENCES
Now that you have your plan in place, it’s time to transform your kitchen and all your food experiences. Here are a few important tips to get you started:
• Think “Plant-Based” for the best outcome – whole foods that are minimally processed are the best for your health.
• Choose small portions of fish or any meat. This includes poultry – poultry is not a “superior” animal food, so eat less of it for better health.
• Omega-3 fish like salmon, herring, cod, trout are good choices. For vegans, choose walnuts and flaxseeds.
• Are you holding onto bags, boxes and cans of highly-chemicalized foods in the cupboard? Keep in mind, the body needs live, fresh foods for optimal health!
• Visit your local health food store, farmer’s market or grocery store that carries organic, non-GMO, humanely-treated animal products without all the junk additives.
• Grow as many plant foods that you can at home or at a community garden where there is little or no pesticides or chemicals that would be unsafe for consumption.
• Stock your kitchen and pantry with beans, lentils, grains, nuts, seeds, sauerkraut, avocados, greens, olives, miso, tempeh, kimchi, all-colored veggies (orange, yellow, red, purple), sea veggies (kelp, wakame, nori, etc.), lemons, limes, berries, apples and pears.
• Drink clean water that is filtered and de-chlorinated preferably.
• Drink unsweetened kombucha, caffeine-free or low caffeine beverages.
• Fasting once a week is a good habit to pick up. It’s a great way to develop discipline.
If you’re dining out:
-Avoid any of the “extras” like toppings, bread, rolls and desserts.
-Choose steamed or broiled items with lemon or herb garnish.
-Share a dish with someone if you are out with a group.
-If you’re dining by yourself, ask for a box to carry part of your meal home to eat later or the next day. This will keep you from overindulging at one sitting.
-Limit yourself to one dish only at any buffet!!
• Take a balanced dish of mostly plant food and do not look for seconds or thirds.
• Chew slowly and savor the flavor and texture of the food that enters your mouth.
• Be grateful for the plant or animal that is nourishing your whole body. Stop to reflect before and throughout the meal.
• If you are feeling satiated, stop and put the rest away for eating at another time. (Whether you are at home or at a restaurant.)
• Remember, you have more hours in a day, or even the next day, to eat another meal.
• Food is to sustain you – not to strain you!
The body is literally full of tiny bacteria that number in the 100 trillion range! This is known as your microbiome, and it is housed mainly in the large intestine (colon, large bowel). Scientific studies are continuously revealing how important the microbiome is to survival. In fact, the microbiome is keeping us alive, and we must keep it fed well for good health to be maintained or achieved.
• Good bacteria inhabit the gut. Our microbiome needs this good bacteria, so we must eat properly to sustain this important area.
Prebiotics – Fiber, onions, garlic, chicory, beans, Jerusalem artichoke, apple skins and bananas all contain fibers that probiotic bacteria “digest” and transform into substances that protect the integrity of the colon and the body.
Probiotics – While the use of encapsulated probiotics for weight loss remains controversial, many people who take some form of lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacteria claim to have much better digestion and regularity of the bowels.
I recommend a good quality refrigerated probiotic of at least 10 billion CFUs daily.
• Overweight and obese people, as well as those who consume highly-processed artificial food and low or no plant foods, have been found to contain markedly lower concentrations of good bacteria and much higher bad bacteria.
• The most beneficial food for the health of the microbiome and your body are whole foods from plants and fermented foods like pickled vegetables, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, and pure yogurt.
• Avoid antibiotics as much as possible, including antibiotic soaps and pesticides, because they disturb the microbiome.
NO LOVE AFFAIRS WITH FOOD
Food is meant for sustenance. Moreover, the right foods will keep your body in the right shape, weight, and health. This means there should be no bonding with any particular substance such as chocolate, sugar, cheese, gluten (and all gluten-related products), soda-type beverages, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners. All these harmful substances are contributors to the breakdown of health and wellness by disrupting natural hormones, the microbiome and virtually all bodily functions including your mood and behavior. Remember, the food industry needs to keep you “Hungry for More!”, especially with food that creates addictive behavior. We all need to be aware of additives and the advertising tactics used to seduce consumers into purchasing unnourishing food. Remind yourself over and over again, “Stay focused – I do not benefit from this!”
WEIGH LESS WITH MORE SLEEP
We all need sleep to restore our bodies. Sleep is also important to maintain weight or assist in weight loss because a sound sleep allows for the secretion of leptin, an appetite-regulating hormone. When there is an absence of sleep (usually less than four hours), leptin is not produced sufficiently. Instead, another hormone called ghrelin is secreted rapidly and one’s appetite is actually enhanced because the body thinks it needs energy in the absence of sleep. To avoid appetite surges and the uncontrollable desire for food, you need to get a minimum of five hours (preferably seven to eight hours) sleep each night.
MOVEMENT MUST HAPPEN
In order to weigh less, both the body and the bowels need to move. Find the time to walk more, power walk, jog, dance, march, crunch, or “Jiggle-wiggle” around your home, office, gym, a park or anywhere you are – every day! Every move counts, but the more muscle groups you engage and the higher the impact, the better. The Gut-Belly-Ab area must be moved a lot. This is the most neglected area that everyone complains about, but the spot that needs the most work! So go ahead, twist your torso several times a day. This will help stimulate digestion and the bowels for healthy bowel movements.
Another important step in losing weight is to meditate. Set aside some time to:
• Stop and concentrate on your breath.
• Sit in a relaxed position, close your eyes and inhale through the nostrils slowly for about three to four seconds before exhaling through the mouth two to three times longer than your inhalation.
• You may do this standing up or lying down.
• Repeat this breathing cycle at least ten times as you focus on your breath.
• Let all thoughts go.
• Your body will respond as you de-stress.
• You may repeat this meditative exercise as often as you can each day.
• Try to meditate at least after rising and before resting for the night.
AFFIRMATIONS ALL THE WEIGH!
Saying affirmations will stimulate helpful neurotransmitters that signal “all is well” and your body will achieve its goals!
In addition, remind yourself of these truths:
• Stop looking for the magic – You are it!
• Keep positive and happy!
• Associate with happy people!
• Don’t put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket.
• Remind yourself that –
You are a Star!
• Recite or sing songs of praise for life and be grateful for all that you have!
• Remember that you will only eat what your body needs and nothing more!
A COMMITMENT IT IS – FOR LIFE
Your mouth can be the portal for a disastrous outcome if not disciplined. Before you consume any food, it is best to stop, think, and spend a few moments reflecting on the very food you are about to eat.
• Do I need to eat this because I’m truly hungry?
• Am I eating out of boredom?
• Is this food just filling time for me?
Anything you eat or drink when it is not really needed is only additional poundage and subsequent health-related consequences. By analyzing food before you consume it, the discipline will make you even more aware and soon becomes your “weigh” of life. In fact, by controlling your food intake, you are taking control of your life. Invest in yourself! It pays the best interest!
In the end, if you take “weigh” less, you will want and need less. Most of all, remember that you are priceless!
1. Bowden, J., PhD. https://johnnybowden.com/sodas-and-obesity-here’s-the-proof
2. Chutkan, R., M.D. The Microbiome Solution: A Radical Way to Heal Your Body Inside and Out; Avery Publisher, USA; 2015
3. Kessler, D., M.D. The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite; Rodale Books, USA; 2010
4. Mercola, J., D.O. http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archives/2014/01/17/probiotics-weight-managment.aspx