Eat 3 to 6 meals and snacks or mini-meals throughout the day.
Keeping your blood sugar regular and within its desired range all day allows for optimal energy, decreases the burden on your endocrine system and lets your body know it's receiving a consistent supply of the glucose it needs. If your body receives nutrients on a regular basis, it has no need to store excess fat for emergencies.
Include breakfast soon after waking.
You've been fasting since dinner, so supply your body with the energy it needs to take on daily tasks without creating stress and low blood sugar.
Include a source of carbohydrates, proteins and fats with each meal or snack.
Each of these macronutrients plays a vital role in your health (carbohydrates for energy, proteins for structure and fats to protect every cell in your body). Each is digested at a different rate, releasing its energy into the bloodstream as it's digested. By eating all three macronutrients at each meal, you'll keep your blood sugar level consistent for a longer period of time and stay satisfied longer.
Include a vegetable or fruit with each meal.
Produce contains so many health-promoting factors-vitamins, minerals, water, fiber, phytonutrients and macronutrients-that it's no wonder these foods are considered the best for staving off disease. They are also generally lower in calories and high in fiber, so you stay fuller, longer, for less of your daily caloric allowance. Guidelines for health recommend 8 to 10 servings daily; eating at least one serving every time you eat will get you close to that goal. Aim for 1 to 3 servings of fruit and have the rest in vegetables.
Eat a rainbow.
While eating 10 servings of green fruits and vegetables is good for you, each color group provides a different set of phytonutrients (plant defense system) that protects a different system in your body. Eating a rainbow of produce daily will ensure you're receiving full-body protection. Having a red, orange, yellow/white/light green, dark green and purple fruit or vegetable daily is a much easier way to ensure you're getting in your 10 servings...and variety will keeps you interested! If this seems a little daunting, aim for 3-4 colors daily and rotate through all five many times throughout the week.
Drink ample water each and every day.
Your body is approximately 70% water. Think of all the ways you lose it-going the washroom, sweating, breathing, etc. To maintain your 70%, drink hydrating beverages like water throughout the day. How much? Take your weight in pounds and divide it by two; that's how many ounces you need in a day (e.g., a 150-pound person requires 75 ounces of hydrating fluids). Hydrating beverages can also include herbal teas or 100% fruit juice (in moderation). Dehydrating beverages (coffee, alcohol, caffeinated teas and hot chocolate) require two glasses of water just to make up for the water lost by drinking one glass of them!
Eat until you're 80% full.
One of the longest living people, the Okinawans, practice this way of eating. When you eat until you're 80% full, you give your brain time to catch up with all you've put in your stomach. When you eat until you're 100% full, you can end up feeling uncomfortably overflowed-perhaps at the 125% level-by the time your brain processes how much food you've really taken in. When you're 80% full, you allow your body to be hungry again when it's time to eat in 3 to 4 hours.
Live by the 80/20 rule.
Your body is a fascinating organism-it deals with all you throw at it and yet you can still walk down the street. If you focus on eating whole foods (health-promoting foods) 80% of the time, then your body can handle the other 20%...when you may choose to indulge in foods that aren't necessarily good for you, but you truly enjoy. Allow yourself to eat those foods you crave without guilt, which can create more damage in the body than the food itself! If you want to fast track your way to your ideal weight, 90/10 might be more ideal, but never deprive yourself completely of anything you really enjoy.
Vital Points to Remember:
Since this is a lifestyle change, creating these healthier habits may take some time and that's okay; it take 21 days to create a habit. Keep moving forward and picture yourself at your ideal weight, seeing yourself as you want to look and feel. Don't try to change everything all at once; apply a new habit every day or once you're comfortable, then add another, and another, and before you know it, you'll have successfully created a new daily eating lifestyle that's easy to maintain and a natural part of your thought process. Remember, you've got time to make these changes for life; it's not a race.
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Melonie Dodaro is an author, coach, trainer and the founder and CEO of MindBodyFX, who specializes in changing the way women think so they can achieve permanent weight loss. Now, you can learn how to harness the power of your mind to experience the weight loss results you desire. Claim your FREE MindBody FX Lifestyle Book Sneak Preview and Consumer Awareness Guide at http://www.WeightLossConsumersGuide.com and start shedding the pounds today.
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