Winter can bring about an entire change in your lifestyle. You get into hibernation mode: your activities decrease, eating habits change, even foods you crave changes.
While trying to survive the winter blues by eating a little comfort food here and there may not seem so bad…it can become habitual real easily.
Bad foods are always bad, but combine that with lack of activity, increased consumption (of bad foods), rainy weather, seasonal blues and cold temperatures and you’ve got a perfect environment for cultivating poor unhealthy eating habits that can add inches to your waistline.
But like all habits, good or bad, it CAN be broken…it only takes 21 days to break and create a new habit according to the experts. So, here are a few simple and easy tips you can immediately implement to help you turn poor eating habits into good habits so you can begin shedding those extra pounds of winter insulation today.
Avoid sugar and fat…a tasty combination that can add up real quick. A little bit of this after lunch and a little of that after dinner and before you know it, you’ve a bit more than a little “winter insulation” around your belly! But that’s not all…you’ve also “programmed” your body to accept and store fat easier! Your body is designed for survival, so when your body gets cold it needs to insulate itself and what better way to do so, than to feed your body empty calories that’s easily stored as fat.
Remember, not all foods are created equal and so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that not all foods are metabolized the same way either. For instance, take a cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream drizzled with nuts and fudge. It’s highly processed and super high in refined sugars (ie. high fructose corn syrup) and has trans fats (ie. hydrogenated soybean oil) that are all metabolized by your body differently than real unrefined whole foods. These comfort foods and drinks quickly gets stored as fat, not to mention putting undue strain on your organs (ie. pancreas) as well as increasing bad cholesterol that can clog up your arteries causing heart disease.
So, getting your sweet fix is okay on special occasions, but if those “occasions” become more frequent and start to resemble more of a habit…it’s time to break it!
Habit is unconscious when you’re doing it, but when you’re trying to break it and create a new one, you need to be conscious.
When you’re starting to create a new habit it’s important to keep in mind that it needs to be easy, doable and repeatable. The easier it is to implement and keep up, the higher your success rate. This is why I kept the following tips, simple and easy. Try these tips out for 21 days and see how you do. I think you’ll be quite surprised at how making just a few small and simple changes can add up to big differences in your life.
Never miss breakfast. Always start off with a well balanced breakfast with plenty of protein in the meal.
Most people make the mistake of eating calorie dense, highly processed foods like cereals and instant breakfast or carb dense foods like bagels or muffins and wash it all down with even more sugar like processed juices.
Just as bad are those that skip breakfast all together and start the day off with a cup of coffee on an empty stomach and a dehydrated body.
Psychologically, it’s vital that you start your day off right, and eating a well balanced healthy breakfast is key to doing that. Studies have shown that when you start off the day eating healthy, you’re much more likely to stay that way throughout the day. Whereas, when you start out the day eating poorly or skipping breakfast altogether, you’re much more likely to follow the bad habits throughout the day.
So first thing in the morning, drink a large glass of water. Your body’s hasn’t been hydrated for hours, it needs water…not coffee, not juice. Coffee is a stimulant and will suppress hunger…which is not good when you need to eat breakfast. Concentration of refined sugar found in juice will spike up your insulin, getting your body started down the wrong metabolic path.
When preparing your breakfast with proteins, eggs are probably the fastest and easiest food to make. But if you’re not a fan of eggs, pick any other type of protein you like. You can also get protein from nuts, organic dairy products as well. (**I’m not a big fan of dairy, but if you’re not lactose intolerant or have any dairy allergies, you can use dairy as well). A good quality whey protein powder is a life saver, quick, nutritious and tasty.
Eat 5 – 6 small meals throughout the day consisting of 3 main meals and 2 in between snacks. This allows for a more constant flow of energy into the system and more stable blood sugar levels. Keep blood sugar levels stable is key because this will assist you in keeping 2 huge factors in failure to stick to your nutrition program at bay……(1) HUNGER….(2) CRAVNGS!!!
When you get hungry in the middle of the day, between breakfast and lunch or between lunch and dinner, drink a large glass of water first and wait to see if the hunger goes away. Often time’s emotional hunger will subside after you drink water. If you’re still hungry, have a healthy snack like a handful of nuts and a piece of fruit. I recommend combining foods high in fibre like fruits and vegetables (ie. apple, pears, carrots and broccoli) along with foods that have some protein and fat content (ie. almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, avocados). The combination of fibre and fat will satisfy your hunger and keep you full longer, while keeping your insulin level stable.
Be conscious when you eat. Eat slowly and chew well. Don’t multitask when you eat. Be present and enjoy the food you’re having. Eat slowly and pause for brief moments after every 2 – 3 bites of your meal. With each bite chew at least 10 times, this will slow down your eating and enable your digestive enzymes to kick in, allowing for better digestion.
Exercise. This tip isn’t about eating, but a vital part of a healthy lifestyle nonetheless. Try and get some kind of exercise on a daily basis 3-5 days a week. It’s best to stick to an everyday routine, since it’s the easiest to remember and you’ll get in the habit of doing it quicker.
Repetition is the key to success and forming a good productive habit is one critical aspect of it. Start with something simple and doable for you. It may be as simple as walking to and from work or going for a walk/jog during lunch time.
Pick something that’s easy to keep up and stick to it until it becomes part of your daily habit. Once it becomes a habit, you can think about doing a bit more and perhaps join a fitness class or participate in a fitness program.
Follow these 5 easy tips and kick start your way to a new healthy body and lifestyle. Remember that ditching your old bad habits is all about implementing easy, doable good habits that you can continue for at least 21 days. Once you make eating and being healthy a habit, you’ll burn off your winter fat storage and get your summer physique back just in time. But even more importantly you’ll get a healthy body inside and out.