Food Freedom Friday Edition 39

Terrific in Ten

Want to reclaim your vitality, have boundless energy, get sick less often, lose weight, have fewer cravings and feel amazing each and every day. Here are my 10 easy steps to propel you to the health heights you so badly desire.

1.       Shun Sugar

The easiest way to do this without having to spend hours reading labels is to eliminate anything that is packaged, canned, frozen (with a few exceptions, like frozen organic vegetables or berries) or pre-cooked. Even potato chips have sugar in them.

There are so many names for so many common forms of sugar that it could take you forever to weed them out by reading labels, so just commit to eating REAL, fresh, whole foods and nothing else. That means meats, eggs, poultry, seafood, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.

2.       H2O Only

Sugar in liquid form is even worse for you than sugar in a cookie because it enters your bloodstream almost instantly. What makes it worse is that a sugary beverage like soda provides a very short burst of energy and zero satiety which leaves you reaching for another shortly after. Sugar sweetened beverages go beyond soda; your bought drinks may be loaded with sugar.

Gatorade has 14 teaspoons of sugar per bottle. That is 1 less teaspoon than a 20-ounce Coke. One of the problems is that sending this much sugar flying into your bloodstream at once actually inhibits the liver’s own fat-storage mechanism, leading to additional fat storage in the belly.

Not only that, but almost all sugar is 50% glucose (which spikes your blood sugar) and 50% fructose. The latter is just as problematic and often overlooked. Fructose (especially in hidden or liquid form) is bad news because it must first be metabolized before the body can use it as glucose and this can only be done in an already sugar-taxed, over-worked liver.

This is a rate-dependent process and too much fructose at once causes your liver to release out triglycerides into your blood. Many of those TGs are also trapped in your liver, which can overtime lead to problems like fatty liver disease.

3.       Good Morning Protein

After fasting all night, your carbohydrate levels are low and your insulin levels are high. This is the main reason so many people reach for something sweet first thing in the morning.

Combat this by getting plenty of protein instead. Not only will it fill you up without spiking your blood sugar, but it will also re-train your body to use protein as energy. You also want to make sure you get some healthy fats into your body as early as possible. Try a protein shake or have some eggs and a handful of walnuts.

4.       Healthy Carbohydrates

Not all carbohydrates are unhealthy. You need them to function well and even to survive, but you have to eat the good carbohydrates. These include non-starchy, low-sugar vegetables, roots and tubers winter squashes, yams and sweet potatoes.

When you want something sweet, help yourself to fresh berries and the lower-sugar fruits like apples, pears, and plums.

5.       Fat is Your Friend

Fat is not to blame for obesity – sugar and white flour are. Fat actually helps steady your blood sugar levels, keeps you feeling satisfied and is even used to transport vitamins and minerals throughout your body. You should have both protein and fat at every meal.

The best fats are nuts and seeds, nut butters (except for peanut butter), olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, avocados and the Omega-3 fats from pasture-raised meat and eggs and wild-caught seafood.

6.       Snacks On Hand Always

You are going to need to eat sometime, and when out and about finding a farmer’s market, fruit stand or healthy restaurant within five miles may be next to impossible. In fact, there will probably be five fast food restaurants, three vending machines and a donut shop just within sight.

Always be prepared. Keep plenty of healthy snacks in your desk, in your car, in your laptop case and anywhere else you can stash them. Rely on nuts, seeds, apples, jerky, and celery with nut butter, berries and other portable treats like canned sardines or tuna packed in olive oil. It’s best to have a combination of protein, fats and good carbohydrates in every snack.

7.       Stress OUT

There is a reason stress makes many people reach for the junk food. Stress raises your cortisol level, causing hunger and stimulating fat storage at the same time. De-stressing actually reverses that process.

Studies have shown that just doing some deep breathing can stimulate the Vagus nerve and change the focus of your metabolism from storing fat to burning it. Take a fun fitness class, go dancing, call a friend or watch a funny video. Take a nice long shower or curl up with a cat, a book or both. Whatever it takes, even just for a few minutes, to help you unwind and refocus.

8.       Sleep

Lack of sleep or even sleeping at erratic times raises your cortisol level and interferes with your leptin and ghrelin levels, the hormones that control hunger and satiety. Get at least 7-9 hours every night and try to go to sleep at roughly (within an hour or so) at the same time every night. Many people find that doing this one thing ramps up their fat loss enough for them to lose weight without restricting calories and raises energy levels markedly.

9.       Get Strong

Strength training supports keep your blood sugar levels steady and regular.

When you use your muscles, they require more glucose, which means less glucose in the bloodstream to elevate your blood sugar and fewer cravings for sugar later on when your blood sugar begins to crash. The more lean muscle you have, the better your body is at getting blood glucose out of your bloodstream and into your muscles. Exercise also releases those feel-good endorphins buffering you and making you less vulnerable to mood eating.

10.   Tox-Out

Inflammation has been shown to cause unhealthy blood sugar levels and lead to insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. Illness and injury are not to blame for most inflammation – food sensitivities are. The most common problem foods are gluten, soy and dairy. Kick them out of your diet and see how you feel.

You may not even realize you have a problem with one or more of these until a few days later, when you suddenly have a great deal more energy and far fewer symptoms such as bloating, gas, headaches and nausea. Doing an elimination may seem a little extreme to some and reasonable but incredibly difficult to others but research supports the idea that we all need to get inflammatory foods out of our diets for good.

With this 10-step plan you begin to reclaim your vitality and feel awesome much more easily than you think, I promise. The first few days are the hardest, but if you follow all of these steps, you WILL begin to feel the lasting effects in no time!

Michal Ofer