When you decide to eat healthy and lose weight, it can be difficult to know exactly what diet plan is right for you.  There are so many diet recommendations out there today. From low fat, high protein to keto diets. The recommendations are sometimes contradictory and can be confusing.  This does not mean that they are good or bad. The question to ask is whether they are the right plan for you. What is right for Jane may not be right for John because we are all unique individuals with complex needs. Here are some tips to help you create a plan that is right for you in 4 simple steps.

Step 1.  Choose The Foods That Are Right For You

Knowing what to eat is a common complaints of people who are trying to diet.  Here is a simple guide to help you.

  1. Cut Sugar Consumption:  The one thing that is universal to any healthy eating plan is to cut back on sugar consumption.  The AHA (American Heart Association) recommends that children, teenagers and women should limit consumption of added sugars to 25 grams a day and men to 36 grams.  Added sugar is sugar that is from any source other than vegetables and fruit in their natural form. Read the food label to get this information.

  1. Get Enough Protein:  When you are trying to lose weight, it is important to get enough high quality protein.  This helps you lose fat, promote lean muscle mass and keeps you full longer. Your muscle mass is the main metabolic engine.  On a typical diet, as much as 25% of the weight loss come from muscle. This slows your metabolism and makes future weight loss difficult.

Nutritional Guidelines suggest a daily intake of 1.6 and 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram, or .73 and 1 grams per pound to lose weight. Athletes and heavy exercisers should consume 2.2-3.4 grams of protein per kilogram (1-1.5 grams per pound) if aiming for weight loss.

Sources of protein include things like beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, pork, fish.  Plant sources include nuts and seeds.  

Protein sources can be high in calories and some are high in cholesterol. To get the amount of protein you need to lose weight without consuming too many calories, you may need protein meal replacement.

  1. Consume Complex Carbs.  Carbs tend to get a bad reputation for weight loss.  Not all carbs are bad. Refined and processed carbs are what you need to avoid.  Get your carbs from non-starchy vegetables, fruits and low glycemic index sources such as quinoa, brown rice, sweet potato, whole grain, oats, and legumes.  

Aim to consume about 5 servings of vegetable a day and no more than 2 servings of fruit a day.   A serving of vegetable is a cup of raw vegetable or half a cup of cooked vegetables. A serving of fruit is a small apple or the equivalent.

  1. Eat Healthy Fats: Provide essential fatty acids and allow proper use fat soluble vitamins.  Sources of good fats include avocado, olives, olive oil, nuts and seeds. Other sources include fish especially fatty fish like salmon and sardines.

  1. Putting A Meal Plate Together – Be Mindful Of Calories:

Use 9” plate. Fill half with vegetables and fruit.  Divide the other half in quarters. Use one quarter for complex carbs and the other for protein/healthy fats.

Step 2.  Track Food and Symptoms

This helps to keep you accountable and also to identify any food sensitivities.  Track symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, rash, bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, constant throat clearing and things like that.  Is there any relationship to certain foods like dairy or gluten. These have been associated with food sensitivities. Other trigger foods include soy, peanuts, food preservatives, artificial sweeteners.  You may find that even the so-called healthy food may not agree with you.

Step 3.  Eliminate and Substitute

If you suspect that your body is not processing any food well, then try eliminating it.  Substitute with a healthier option. The FIX diet book is a great resource amongst many that can help you with this.

Step 4.  Practice Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is a great skill to help you lose weight and keep it off.  Take at least 20 minutes to eat your food. The reason for this is that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the signal from your gut that you have started eating.  It takes that long for your satiety center to register, so you feel satisfied. Chew slowly and completely. Pay attention to the taste and flavors. Put your fork down in between bites.  Savor the food and be grateful. When you feel satisfied stop. You do not have to stuff yourself. You will end up feeling full for longer on smaller amount of food.

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