“If you don’t take care of your body where will you live?”
Most women at one time or another have been on a diet. Whether it’s a detox cleanse, part of a training regiment, or for weight loss, we’ve all been down the path of trying to lose unwanted inches or pounds. Diet fads come and go. Just when you think you’re following the right plan, there’s another diet taking its place with a title of healthier, easier, or faster. It can be confusing.
If you’re going to alter your nutritional intake, it’s best you do some homework so you help, not harm, your system. We avoid any diet that leaves us starving. And while the premise of the “earn and burn” game of calorie consumption makes sense, it’s more complex than that. What you put in your body – your diet – accounts for 90% of the optimal health equation. It’d be great if 200 calories from cookies fueled your body the same as 200 calories from broccoli, but that’s not how it works. The kind and quality of the calories you consume really matter.
Your best diet is one that fuels your body with proper foods, and gives you energy and focus to excel both inside and outside the gym. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few diets with a healthy, female-friendly approach.
If you’ve been working out and eating right but not seeing results you may have a food intolerance (which is different from a food allergy). An intolerance to high-inflammatory foods in particular is known to cause weight gain or weight-loss resistance. Additional symptoms of inflammation include exhaustion, moodiness, brain fog and bloating.
JJ Virgin, celebrity nutrition expert and best-selling of author of “The Virgin Diet” says “your fat is not your fault. It’s your body’s way of responding to the foods it can’t handle – foods you may have been eating precisely because you thought they were good for you!”
There are many amazing foods that provide anti-inflammatory support, like acai, kale, blueberries, and turmeric. However, these superfoods can’t do all the work. It’s also important to eliminate inflammatory foods. The major high-inflammatory foods are gluten, soy, dairy, eggs, corn, peanuts, and sugar (and artificial sweeteners). Virgin recommends cutting these out completely for 21 days and then introducing each item back one by one per week to see if you have any negative responses. If that happens, it means your body is telling you that it does not like it nor want it.
Clean Eating Diet
“If you don't recognize the ingredient your body won't either.”
In order to make our lives easier, the food industry created “foods” that are convenient, quick to consume and, many times, can live on the shelf for a long time. Think soda, crackers, cookies, muffins, and deli meats. These items are processed foods. Read the label and you probably won’t recognize most of the ingredients.
Our bodies desire food – real food. For this diet, eating whole foods gives your body food it knows how to process effectively and efficiently. It’s called clean eating. A good rule of thumb for this approach is to consume foods that have three or fewer unidentifiable ingredients. Steer clear of anything fried, packaged, or doused in dressing or sauce. The Paleo diet is an example of a clean eating plan but discourages eating grains, dairy and legumes. Don’t forget how important carbohydrates are for women. Remember to include good carbs in your diet (think sweet potatoes, fruits and whole grains) to help brain function and increase energy.
A quick tip for clean eating is to shop the perimeter of the grocery store. Here you’ll find your whole foods – meat, fish, dairy, fruit, vegetables, and eggs. Walk down the center aisles and you’ll be tempted by shelves of processed foods in pretty packaging making healthy claims like, “all natural” or “just 100 calories.”
A woman’s intuition is a real thing. We all have it. Most times we just aren’t paying attention to it. When we tune into the present moment we can really decipher what feels good and what doesn’t – that goes for everything from our diet to relationships. Applying mindfulness to your eating takes practice and can therefore be easy to quit. However, the long-term effect is life changing.
This diet is all about reshaping your relationship with time and food. With all of the distractions in our daily life, it’s easy to devour our meals fast and without thinking. Ever eat an entire bucket of popcorn during a movie and not realize it? Yep, distraction (and boredom) causes you to eat more and past your hunger point. Time to get focused and hone in on your intuition!
Practice these simple tips with every meal for mindful eating:
- Eat at a table (not a couch or desk)
- Sit for a minute in front of your plate before you begin eating
- Feed yourself with your non-dominant hand
- Chew eat bite 25 times to slow you down
- Put your fork/spoon down between each bite
- Only eat when your hunger is a 7 out of 10 to avoid binging
- Stop eating when your fullness is 7 out of 10 to avoid getting uncomfortably full
- Turn off the TV and put away your phone while you eat
With practice, you will tune in to what your body needs to thrive. As you become more intuitive with your eating, you might find that your cravings change with the seasons. For example, you might want more soups during the Winter or cold salads in the Summer. Nourish your body according to what your body intuitively desires. With this approach, you eat what feels good while not necessarily avoiding any specific foods. Your mindfulness will naturally influence you to eat less, and you’ll develop a preference for the healthy stuff. Our bodies are very smart, we just need to listen.
Above all, respect your body. Each organ has a specific duty to perform (except the appendix, we’re still not sure what his function is) in order to keep you alive. Support your system with a proper diet.
As always, consult your doctor before making any drastic diet changes. Here’s to a diet that gives you a healthy glow and happy soul!