Healthy Weight Week celebrates healthy living habits that prevent eating and weight problems. While we often associate our weight with how we look, maintaining a healthy weight is important for good health. According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health “In addition to lowering the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure, it can lower the risk of many different cancers. Your weight, your waist size, and the amount of weight gained since your mid 20’s can have serious implications. These factors can strongly influence your chances of developing the following diseases and conditions: Cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, gallstones, asthma, cataracts, infertility, snoring and sleep apnea.” What better motivation can we have for maintaining a healthy weight than to strive to be at our healthiest? There are many things that we can do be at our best weight.
The following are six key learnings from top nutrition health coaches that are critical to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
Skipping breakfast is a diet buster - By eating a hearty breakfast, you’ll give your metabolism a jumpstart and be in better control of your cravings. When we miss our first fuel of the day, by mid-morning we are hungry and more likely to engage in mindless nibbling, snacking, overeating, and overcompensating for any calories “saved” by skipping breakfast. Studies repeatedly show daily breakfast consumption is associated with maintaining a healthy weight. But if you’re not ready for breakfast early in the morning, listen to your body and eat when you feel it’s best for you.
The quality and quantity of the food you eat matters - Eat fewer calories by cutting down on portions and decrease the total amount of fat, sugar and sodium in your diet. Heavily processed carbs, including sugary drinks, sweets, white bread, and snack foods provide a hefty carbohydrate load with no additional nutrients. Because they are more refined, they are digested rapidly and generally produce a greater rise in blood sugar. The source of the carb determines its quality. Choose foods high in fiber such as whole-grain bread, high fiber cereals, brown rice and fruits and vegetables.
70% of how you look and feel is a result of what you eat and 30% is your physical fitness - Exercise has enormous benefits - for your mind and body with research boasting decreased body weight, smaller waist circumference, lower resting heart rate and blood pressure, and it boosts your mood Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic exercise most days of the week and a minimum of 20 minutes of strength training twice a week. If you have a difficulty finding time to exercise because of a busy schedule, try breaking up sessions into 3 – 15 minute periods. Look for small chunks of time that you can get some exercise. Incorporate wearing a wireless activity tracker and aim for 10,000 -15,000 steps daily.
Eating nutrient-dense foods such as vegetables will help you reduce your cravings - eating large quantities of nutrient-dense vegetables can help you reduce cravings for unhealthy foods as well as lose weight. Plant foods are typically lower in fat and calories and higher in filling fiber than meat, dairy, and processed foods while providing loads of essential nutrients.
Most people are chronically dehydrated - We often mistake thirst for hunger. If you feel hungry between meals, drink a glass of water before giving into cravings. Limit liquid calories from soda and juice. Hunger is often confused with dehydration. Next time you feel like having a snack, have a glass of water. Even mild dehydration can alter our body’s metabolism, so aim to drink eight glasses a day and limit soda, caffeine, and alcohol. It is also agreed that drinking water before meals can help promote weight loss. Studies show people who drink two glasses of water before meals feel fuller and eat less.
Getting adequate sleep is critical in achieving your weight goals - Research suggests that those who sleep five hours or less weigh five pounds more than those getting, at least, seven hours of shut-eye per night. Over time, weight gain can increase more rapidly in those who get five hours of sleep when compared to those getting seven hours. Lack of sleep disrupts circadian rhythms and can lead to inefficient body regulation of energy balance, metabolism, and appetite. Abnormal leptin and ghrelin levels – hormones that tell your body “I’m full, stop eating” – can go awry with too little sleep. Said simply – sleep more, eat and weigh less! Strive for seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
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