New year is traditionally the time for going on a diet and indeed January is usually awash with fad diets. However, what if there was another way of getting your health on track without dieting?
Clinical nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares some inspiration on how to manage your weight the healthy way.
Be kind to your liver
The word ‘detox’ is probably the most over-used one as the clock turns midnight on 31st December. And it’s true to say that over-indulgence during the festive season may have led to feelings of sluggishness while piling on the pounds. The liver is the most overworked organ in the body, but it is perfectly able to detox itself, without going on a hard-core detox.
However, caring for the liver and including foods and herbs that make its life easier will also help with weight loss since the liver plays an essential role in the digestive process. Eggs and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, sprouts and cauliflower are good choices. Apples, rocket, beetroot, onions and artichoke are also some of the best liver-friendly foods.
When it comes to herbs, turmeric, dandelion root, garlic and milk thistle are great, plus try to drink plenty of green tea and dandelion coffee. Drinking plenty of filtered water will also help keep both the liver and kidneys working at optimum levels as well as reducing water retention, which often becomes worse during periods of over-indulgence.
Banish blood sugar highs and lows
To lose weight, blood sugar has to be balanced and it will be very difficult to achieve if this mechanism isn’t in check. When we eat foods, and especially carbohydrates or heavily refined foods, blood sugar levels rise. These levels are then kept in check by the release of insulin from the pancreas. A highly refined, high sugar diet and one that’s also high in stimulants such as alcohol and fizzy drinks, will cause blood sugar highs and lows. In short, insulin’s only weapon to keep things in check is to send excess ‘sugars’ to be stored in the fat cells. Insulin is a fat-storing hormone, which will continue to do this, if not stalled.
The way to balance blood sugar is to banish these foods and drinks (especially during January when you want to get health on track) and eat protein at every meal. This will also prevent you from over-filling the plate with heavy carbs such as white rice and pasta. Aim for protein and vegetables to be the main event on your plate.
Great protein sources include lean meat, turkey, venison, oily fish, eggs, dairy (in small amounts), fermented soya including tofu, nuts and beans. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you’ll already be eating lots of veg but ensure you always eat some protein too. This will also help you feel fuller for longer and not snack. And on that note…
Avoid the snack attack
The body needs regular feeding times and definite breaks between meals to enable it to enter the post-absorptive phase of digestion, plus balance blood sugar. If you’re constantly grazing (even small snacks), you’ll still get an insulin response which will impede weight loss.
Frequently, snacks are sugar or fat-laden and don’t provide any nutritional benefit, plus they also encourage sugar cravings. Eating protein at every meal will help stop hunger pangs; it’s protein that stimulates feelings of fullness, not carbohydrates.
If you need a snack in between meals then choose protein foods, even it’s just some cooked meat or a little natural yoghurt or cottage cheese. This will also stop you reaching for the ‘the bad guys’!
So, if you try and get the basics right, you should be able to manage your weight in a healthy way.