Not enough willpower is often the main factor behind failed weight loss attempts. Everything is going really well for a few weeks, but then you ‘fall off the wagon’ and start to slip back into negative habits. When we consume foods that deeply nourish our body on a cellular level, I believe that our body stops craving junk food and we actually start to want more goodness from our diets.
Chronic over eating and obesity can often be driven by nutrient deficiencies, as the body is constantly seeking out food as a way to fulfil certain nutritional needs. The problem is that we never receive the vitamins and minerals we need when eating processed food, sugar and junk food, which continues the cycle of overeating.
Most people get bored of eating their ‘diet foods’, which is understandable, when all they are eating in a day is a bowl of high fibre cereal for breakfast, a salad for lunch and bland meals in the evening. There is a misconception that to be healthy we have to eat plain, boring, flavourless meals, but this is certainly not true.
We can actually use certain foods and herbs as ‘tools’ to support our weight loss journey and keep us motivated and on track.
Although it contains caffeine, green tea contains the amino acid theanine which helps to promote a calm, energised mood. Using natural stimulants like green tea can help to support you when you feel tired and unmotivated, in a healthy way, unlike sugar and alcohol. Waking up slightly earlier in the morning to fit in a workout may be the last thing you feel like, but try making yourself a cup of green tea instead of hitting the snooze button and see how much better you feel throughout the day! It can also promote mental clarity, reducing the ‘brain fog’ that stops us thinking clearly and making healthy decisions.
Foods such as leafy greens, nuts, seeds, avocadoes and dark chocolate are great sources of magnesium. This mineral is important for producing energy, managing stress and balancing our blood sugar, therefore increasing our intake when trying to lose weight can be very beneficial. Eating these foods rich in magnesium at times when we know that work is going to be extra stressful or during the PMS phase for women, can stop us ‘giving in’ to our cravings for unhealthy foods.
Chilli, capsicum, cayenne, turmeric and ginger, can liven up meals and also provide us with extra health benefits at the same time! These aromatic herbs can actually boost our immunity, brain health and metabolism, helping us to tap into stored body fat, to use as fuel. Capsaicin, the compound that gives peppers their heat, may help to fight obesity by shrinking fat tissue, and lowering blood fat levels. Curcumin, turmeric’s most active ingredient, reduces the formation of fat by affecting the blood vessels that form it. Ginger is thought to have thermogenic properties, which means that it helps to increase metabolism and produce internal ‘heat’. It also has appetite suppressing effects, therefore playing a potential role in weight management.
This tangy combo, drank in warm water, first thing in the morning, is a great way to start your day. Raw apple cider vinegar actually helps to stimulate the release of digestive enzymes in the gut, reducing symptoms of bloating, reflux, heartburn and gas. Increasing the intake of fibre from vegetables, beans and fruit can lead to digestive upset in some people, which can put them off eating these healthy foods. It takes a while for our gut bacteria to adapt to diet changes, therefore using tools like apple cider vinegar can help to support the body and relieve symptoms in the meantime. Acetic acid, a compound found in apple cider vinegar, has been cited in some studies as the active ingredient that helps with weight loss. It also helps to regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, helping to prevent cravings and blood sugar spikes after eating. Fresh lemon juice works by gently detoxing and cleansing the liver of toxins. The first few weeks of starting a new diet, cutting out sugar and caffeine can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, nausea and irritability. Consuming this drink every morning, on an empty stomach before breakfast, can help to prevent these ‘detox’ or ‘withdrawal’ symptoms. Use 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and the juice of half a lemon mixed into a pint of water. I recommend using a glass or stainless steel straw to prevent the acidity damaging your tooth enamel in the long term.
Ginseng is valued for its ability to boost energy levels and speed metabolism, which allows you to be more active. This herb can also have a positive impact on blood sugar levels, increasing insulin sensitivity. Insulin resistance, the precursor to type 2 diabetes, causes our cells to become ‘numb’ to the signals of insulin. If you feel sleepy after meals, carry weight around your belly and crave sugar, especially after eating, it is possible that you are experiencing some symptoms of insulin resistance, and may you need to pay attention to your blood sugar levels.
All of these foods and herbs can increase your success when trying to lose weight. Some other things you can incorporate into your lifestyle to stay motivated are batch cooking and meal preparation, scheduling workouts and self care into your diary, shopping on the outer isles at the supermarket (avoiding the packaged foods), snacking less, finding a ‘fit friend’ who also wants to go to the gym and eat healthily. It takes 21 days to create new habits, therefore sticking with it during the first few weeks when it is the hardest, will eventually become second nature.
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Apple cider vinegar