By Wendy M. Henrichs
Board certified chiropractic pediatrician and nutrition counselor
So many people start the year with the “New Year’s Resolution” and the promise to yourself that this is the year you’re going to eat better and get in shape. You are gung ho for a month or two and then the promise you made to yourself gets lost somewhere. Slowly our old habits return and this year is no different than the last. Why we don’t follow through or stay on track is a whole different conversation. In this article I will give you easy strategies to eat better.
When people want to lose weight they typically start exercising. Exercise is very important for overall health and wellbeing, but only contributes about 19% to our body composition. What we eat makes up 80% of our body composition, and genetics is a tiny 1%. I recommend these easy strategies to improve our diet and see the results on the scale and in the mirror.
• Fresh fiber first – Have some fresh fruit of vegetable before eating anything else. Vegetables and fruits contain enzymes that aid in digestion. Also, the act of chewing them stimulates our digestive juices in our gut. Why fresh over canned? Canned fruits and vegetables have added sugar and salt. Also, they have been cooked or processed. What about dried fruit? Fresh is best for the enzymes and activating your gut for whatever comes next. Plus, we don’t need the added sugar in dried fruit.
• Protein with every meal and snack – I find that generally people do not eat enough protein, especially women. Sources of protein include: 3-4 ounces of free range chicken; wild caught fish; grass fed beef or wild game; 2-3 whole eggs; 1/4c. raw nuts; 1-2 Tbsp. nut butter; 1-2 ounces of cheese; ½c. legumes or 2 Tbsp. hummus; ½ c. plain Greek yogurt. When cooking your chicken, fish or beef/game you can broil, bake or sauté in olive oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, or virgin coconut oil.
• Eat 4-6 meals and snacks daily – Regular eating stimulates our metabolism. Work towards eating every 3 hours. Have 3 meals daily with your larger meals being breakfast and lunch as well as 2-3 snacks.
• Drink water – Every cellular reaction in our bodies requires water and we are 70% water. Work towards ½ of your body weight in ounces each day. If you are not a water drinker, increase your water intake by 8-12 ounces daily each week until you reach the right amount for you (e.g. 150 lb. person – 75 ounces water). If you don’t like the un-taste of plain water, add cucumber, lime slices, fresh mint, lemon slices, or orange slices.
• Eat good fats – All or our cell membranes are made of fat and our brain and nervous system is 60% fat. We need fat to be lean and healthy. Also good fat is not typically stored as fat, but instead used to support our cell membranes and nervous system as well as make hormones. Some good fats are: olive oil, virgin coconut oil; avocado; nuts, seeds; eggs; organic-grass fed butter.
• Downsize your plate – We underestimate our portions. Using a salad plate instead of a dinner plate is an easy strategy to eat less. Fill your plate with 2/3 fresh or steamed vegetables, 3-4 ounces of protein and if you choose ½ c. of a starch (brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato or potato).
• Post exercise replenishment – If you are exercising for an hour or more or doing any vigorous exercise, you need to replenish your nutrients. Have a banana or apple with some nut butter, or a protein shake to replenish the sugars and protein your muscles used during your workout. Do this within an hour of your workout and your body will have what it needs to work out next time.
It takes time to make changes to our lifestyle and develop new habits. It takes about 90 days to create a lifestyle change. I recommend you shoot for doing these easy strategies 80% of the time or 5 days a week. Add 1 or 2 strategies each week until all have been added. Celebrate whatever changes you do make and not to worry about what you’re not doing. We don’t need any added stress in our lives.
Dr. Wendy Henrichs is a board certified chiropractor and nutrition counselor at Timber Land Chiropractic in Rhinelander. For more information, TimberlandChiropractic.com, Facebook, or call 715-362-4852.