According to many health professionals, any of us is perfectly capable to lose weight, the real problem resides on keeping it off for good. So, if you’ve been dieting over and over but haven’t been able to lose or to maintain the weight you’ve achieved, it’s very probably that you’re storing body fat as an emotional armor.
Storing emotions = Storing fat
Recent studies have shown that unprocessed emotions can lead to accumulating fat. As a matter of fact, an article published by the International Journal of Obesity claims that negative emotions, such as anxiety and stress make us produce cortisol, a hormone that in high levels lead to weight gain and store abdominal fat.
Meanwhile, the ancient teachings of Ayurveda, a millennial Indian medicine practice, assure that our emotional state has a significant impact on our physical health. Given that we’re emotional creatures, there’s a deep connection between our thoughts – both conscious and unconscious – and the fat we store in our body.
The basics are quite simple: Our bodies have to put the things that we don’t deal with somewhere. Thus, gaining weight is merely a symptom of emotional imbalance, and if we’re not able to rebalance them, we’re likely to keep them as body in the form of an emotional armor.
How negative emotions work in our bodies
Experts claim that our bodies respond to our emotional states while dealing with them or avoiding them. When we choose the second, many of us use food not only to nurture our body, but also to “cover” for our emotional wounds. Hence, keeping out extra pounds works as an armor against everything and everyone that can potentially harm us or oblige us to face our fears and anxieties.
But our body fat not only becomes a way to insulate ourselves, it also means we avoid the risk of trying new things – “When I get thinner, I’ll certainly do that” – so, so we use our body fat as an excuse for not living our life today.
These are some of the negative emotions which commonly makes us store body fat:
- Abandonment and insecurities.
- Need of protection due to danger and aggression.
- Need to be visible and recognized.
- Emotional and/or economic deprivation.
- Separation, deaths, abortions.
- Frustration; need to hide our emotions.
- Maternity and need to protect the child.
Some handful tips to help you lose weight and heal your emotions
- Keep a food diary: You should write down EVERYTHING you eat, and most importantly, how you feel before and after you eat it. This will help you know what you use food for and have some idea of which your issues are.
- Start exercising: Take walks, do yoga, take up a dancing class. When we start moving we replace eating – and feeling miserable – for a more pleasurable activity, something that makes us feel good.
- Eat mindfully: Be consciously aware of everything you put into your mouth, and every time you decide to eat something ask yourself why you are eating it and which benefits (real benefits) is that bringing you.
- Make smart food choices: If you know which food is best for you when you’re trying to keep pounds off, stick to eating only that food. Go to the supermarket with a list and try to avoid any situations where you know you can overeat or be tempted to eat unhealthy food.
- Accept, love and forgive yourself: This may not be as easy as it sounds, but the good news is that you can train yourself to do it. You can start by writing down every day at least one of your virtues, something you or others love about yourself. You can also put a note somewhere always visible, so you remember as many times you can, how wonderful you are.
As you have seen, gaining weight and storing fat is not only related to poor eating habits, but also a consequence of our poor emotional health.
If you’re one of those who think you’ll never lose weight, ask yourself which conflicts you’re trying to avoid or hide and try to solve them now. This can always be the first day of the rest of your life, so #DecideItNow.
Following “green”, “organic”, or gluten-free diets has become a trendy lifestyle in the last years. However, stores are packed with products wearing all kinds of confusing terms in their labels. That’s why we embarked on the task of finding out the meaning of these terms and help you understand them better.
Organic food is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes (GMOs), petroleum-based fertilizers, and sewage sludge-based fertilizers.
In the case of organic livestock raised for meat, eggs, and dairy products, they must have access to the outdoors and be given organic feed. They are not given antibiotics or growth hormones (which we’ll talk about below).
As for its benefits, organic foods have more antioxidants, and since they have almost no contact with laboratory chemicals, people with allergy to foods or preservatives often feel better when they eat only organic foods. Remember to always look for the label USDA Organic.
This label is, definitely, the most controversial, since there’s no agreement to what it refers to. “Natural foods” are often assumed to be foods that are not processed, do not contain any food additives such as hormones, antibiotics, sweeteners, food colors, or flavorings that were not originally in the food. Though, the international Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)does not recognize the term “natural”.
In the United States, the USDA requires that every natural food product must also be labeled with a statement explaining the meaning of the term “natural,” such as “no added coloring,” “no artificial ingredients” or “minimally processed.”
GMO stands for “Genetically Modified Organism” and refers to food crops engineered to make them resistant to herbicides and/or to produce an insecticide. Non-GMO means that they are foods that have not been genetically modified
GMOs are commonly found in many crops (you can find the complete list here), so it’s very likely that you’re having them in your breakfast cereal, and in any food which contains corn syrup or soy lecithin.
It’s believed GMOs increase food allergens (food that trigger allergic reactions) and gastrointestinal problems, as well as risk of cancer, though none of these have been proved conclusively.
Gluten is a protein present in grains like wheat, spelt, rye and barley. Some grains are naturally gluten-free, such as brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa, wild rice, amaranth, sorghum, millet, corn (polenta) and teff.
A gluten-free diet is essential for people with gluten-related disorders such as celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten ataxia, and wheat allergy.
However, even when very little clinical research has been conducted, gluten-free diets have become popular arguing they boost weight loss. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the biggest risk is that many gluten-containing products are replaced with highly processed gluten-free foods that will not only not help you lose weight, but in fact gain more as many of these foods are higher in calories than their gluten-containing counterparts.
This label can be found on any kind of meat, but there is really no such thing as “hormone free” or “no hormones”, as every organism naturally contains hormones (you and me included). Now, the label “No-hormones added” refers to meat products were not grown with additional hormones.
Hormones are added to animals to make them grow faster and bigger. And even if the FDA says they are unharmful, they have been associated with an increased risk of breast, prostate, and other cancers in humans.
No antibiotics added
Along with this nominal label, you may also find “raised without antibiotics” or “no antibiotics administered” and are placed on meat/poultry if the producer can provide documentation proving that the animal was raised without antibiotics.
Epidemiologists have been able to link the overuse of drugs in animals to infections they have found in humans, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, in poultry, pork, and beef. Besides, the overuse of antibiotics in animas have led to infections that drugs cannot fight; in the same way, humans can get infected when they eat foods that have been contaminated by bacteria.
Fair Trade is a model where the farmers growing crops receive a fair price for their crops. Believe it or not, stores make the most money out of any product, and the farmers make just a small profit comparatively.
Since fair trade products have a “floor” price (regardless the market, the specified crops cannot be sold below a certain price), farmers are paid fair prices and wages, work in safe conditions, and protect the environment improving thus their communities.
This label is becoming popular stamped in the packages of eggs and poultry and means that hens and chickens were not kept in cages. But that doesn’t mean they are “really” free to walk around, since most of them are still kept in a tiny space (yet, not a cage) where they can barely move without bumping into each other.
As for the advantages, there’s no evidence that cage-free eggs or poultry are more nutritious.
This label means the animal had access to outdoor space for half of their lives; it’s regulated by the USDA and covers meat, eggs, and poultry, but does not cover hens raised to produce eggs. Besides, keep in mind that the USDA considers 5 minutes a day a sufficient amount of time for the animals to spend outdoors.
Regarding its benefits, free range meats are lower in calories and total fat. Additionally, they have higher levels of vitamins and a healthier balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats than conventional meat and dairy products.
Now that you know the differences between all those statements on products’ labels, you’ll be able to make smarter eating choices, good for your health and your pocket. Remember that a healthy lifestyle is always your choice, #DecideItNow.
Vitamin D is a great ally in weight loss as it prevents the growth of fat cells. It also keeps our hormone levels in check, maintains our bones strong, and strengthens our immunodeficiency system protecting us against illness.
On top of that, vitamin D helps to modulate cell growth, reduces inflammation, and improves our neuromuscular and immune function. And if you want to lower your blood pressure, and reduce your risk of diabetes, heart attack, rheumatoid arthritis, or multiple sclerosis: this is the vitamin for you.
Vitamin D Defficiency
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with overweight and obesity-related complications as it releases hunger-stimulating hormones. Therefore, we gain weight and even eat more. Without sufficient vitamin D, children are likely to suffer rickets, and adults to develop osteoporosis or osteomalacia (bone softening).
But, as a matter of fact, nearly all of us meet our vitamin D needs through sun exposure. However, time of day, length of day, cloud cover, smog, skin melanin content, and sunscreen affect UV radiation exposure and vitamin D synthesis. Just remember that’s recommendable to limit exposure to sunlight to avoid skin cancer; 10 to 15 minutes a day will do.
Where to find Vitamin D
Vitamin D is found in very few foods, such as the flesh of fatty fish (salmon, tuna, and mackerel) and fish liver oils. Other foods with small amounts of vitamin D are beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks.
That’s why most of our vitamin D intake comes from fortified foods (nutrients added to food), such as milk, orange juice, yogurt, margarine, and other. If you’d like to know more, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans provides a detailed list of the foods containing vitamin D and their nutrimental information.
A healthy eating pattern that includes vitamin D:
- Includes a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, and oils.
- Includes a variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), nuts, seeds, and soy products.
- Limits saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium.
Too Much Vitamin D Can Be Harmful
Vitamin D needs depend on body size. If you want to take a vitamin-D supplement, ask your MD first if you really need it and in which amounts.
According to a survey published by Reuters, one of five Americans are currently taking vitamin D supplements, and a growing number are taking excessive doses thinking they’re improving their health.
A research carried out by Pamela Lutsey, a public health researcher at the University of Minnesota, have found that an excessive intake of vitamin D can be harmful, as it can cause overabsorption of calcium that can lead to detrimental deposition of calcium in soft tissues, such as the heart and kidneys.
That’s why it’s important to get only the recommended dose: 600 IU (15 mcg) of vitamin D per day for adults 19–70 years old.
Remember that your health should be your No. 1 concern, so #DecideItNow and make necessary change in your daily life to achieve it.
When we’re trying to shed a few pounds, few concepts are so attractive as the idea of “negative-calorie foods”. However, the core question is if we really can feast on some foods without any guilt… or pounds on.
According to its advocates, negative-calorie foods or catabolic foods are foods that require more calories to be digested than what they actually provide. Theoretically, that would mean we can eat as much as we want of them not only without gaining any weight, but actually losing some.
Let’s see. When we talk about “negative-calorie foods”, it doesn’t mean they have less than zero calories, it’s more like a “calorie-subtracting” effect. For instance, a medium-sized apple provides around 85 calories, but an average body needs 99 calories to digest it. That leaves us with 14 already-burnt calories!
So far, so good. Only that it doesn’t take into consideration, neither the basal metabolic rate (number of calories burnt while in rest), nor the thermic effect of food (the amount of energy used to chew, digest, and store nutrients). As a matter of fact, during a day we burn only about 90 to 270 calories when processing food. Even if we added up the calories “already burnt” when eating non-calorie foods (for example, the 14 calories left from the apple), the number of calories is in no way significant when we talk about losing weight.
Furthermore, most of the so-called negative-calorie food – like celery, lettuce, ice, etc. – are high in water and in fiber (sometimes), and low in calories. According to Christy Wilson, RD: “these low-calorie, plant-based foods are an important part of a balanced diet, but, alone, lack adequate nutrients, including protein and fat, to sustain a healthy body.”
The bottom line
So here is the bad news: there’s little scientific evidence that these foods actually make us lose weight. Though that doesn’t mean you can’t lose weight if you eat them. In fact, if you include negative-calorie food in your daily diet, you’ll certainly lose some pounds due to a simple reason: it reduces your overall calorie intake. But you can also lose weight by doing physical activity or having better eating habits.
Remember that the best way to lose pounds is to consume fewer calories than what we burn, or to burn more calories than what we eat. Simple math. The key to weight loss is not seeking out foods that you can eat guilt-free but focusing instead on following the food guide provided by your therapist.
Still, here is a list* of some foods that are diet friendly and rich in nutrients:
- Blueberries: 50 berries = 40 calories
- Artichokes: Medium-sized artichoke = 60 calories
- Grapefruit: Medium-sized grapefruit = 40 calories
- Spinach: 1 cup of uncooked spinach = 7 calories
- Orange: Medium-sized orange = 60 calories
- Watermelon: 1 cup = 50 calories
- Bok Choy: 1 cup = 20 calories
*This list was taken from the website Medical Daily at http://www.medicaldaily.com/negative-calorie-foods-calories-burned-burning-calories-losing-weight-384826
As we have already said, eating the foods listed above, when included in your food-guide, will help you achieve and maintain your ideal weight, as long as you supplement your diet with the necessary nutrients.
You can try reading the nutrition labels of the food you buy, mostly if you think they are “healthy”: the idea is to eat smarter and to #DecideItNow.
According to the 2016 Food and Health Survey, 57% of Americans are trying to lose weight, and to do so, 31% have been making small changes in their diet, such as using low-calorie sweeteners or natural sugars.
The reason is simple, low-calorie sweeteners are sugar substitutes with zero calories that do not raise blood glucose levels, which makes them a preferable choice if you’re trying to lose weight, keep fit, or if you have diabetes or high-blood pressure.
So far, so good, but the real issue is whether these “healthier” options are really healthy and are not damaging our health instead. That’s why we made some research on the most popular low-calorie sweeteners around America and put their nutritional labels over the table.
Evrything you need to know about Low-Calorie Sweeteners
The American Heart Association recommends a maximum of 6 teaspoons of table sugar per day for women, and 9 teaspoons per day for men. Face the Facts USA states that average Americans consume almost 30 tablespoons of table sugar per day! Which explains why low-calorie sweeteners are attractive.
Most sugar substitutes are, by far, sweetener than table sugar: from 100 times to 13,000 times depending on the substance!) so just a little amount is needed to make any food really sweet without the 16 calories in 1 teaspoon of table sugar.
Unfortunately, this isn’t as sweet as it sounds. Recent studies from Harvard Medical School have found that consuming low-calorie sweeteners prevent us from relating sweetness with calorie intake. Thus, we crave more sweets and we choose sweet food over nutritious food, gaining weight.
On top of that, since sugar substitutes are more potent, we gradually find normal sweet food, such as fruit, less attractive, and unsweet foods, such as vegetables, completely unpalatable.
Simply put by Dr. Ludwig, an obesity and weight-loss specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital, the “use of artificial sweeteners can make you shun healthy, filling, and highly nutritious foods while consuming more artificially flavored foods with less nutritional value.”
The difference between “Sugar-free”, “No-added sugar”, and “Unsweetened”
When we go around the supermarket, there is an incredible amount of low-calorie products whose labels claim they are “sugar-free”, “unsweetened” or “no-added sugar”. The problem is that most of us think those names are interchangeably, and even worse, that it means they’re healthy.
According to the FDA, sugar-free food contains less than 0.5 grams of sugar per serving. That means it may include other kind of artificial sweeteners to make it sweeter or to enhance its flavor. A review in the British Dental Journal found that sugar-free gum, sweets and soft drinks contain acidic acids that can damage teeth and cause gastric problems, even if they are marketed as healthy alternatives to sugary products.
This is not the same as “sugar-free”, since no natural sweeteners, including ingredients as juice or dry fruit, were added during its processing. But, they might include artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols, which might cause gastric and dental problems, among other. Common no-added sugar products include granola, peanut butter, fruit juice, fruit preservatives, among other.
Unsweetened food has neither natural nor artificial sweeteners added. That is, the only sweetness in them is what they naturally have, that is, naturally occurring sugars. Unsweetened food includes almond milk, coconut milk, apple sauce, iced tea, and more. If you’re trying to lose weight or simply avoid sweeteners negative effects, this is your choice.
Sugar Substitutes Approved by the FDA
The FDA has approved five artificial sweeteners: saccharin, acesulfame, aspartame, neotame, and sucralose. It has also approved one natural low-calorie sweetener, stevia. However, researchers have not yet agreed on how healthy or harmful they are.
Therefore, and to avoid any risks, it’s recommendable to use them moderately while dieting. If you have already achieved your ideal weight, it’s better to use natural sweeteners; moderately too, so you won’t regain weight.
If you consume them because you’ve got diabetes or high-blood pressure, ask your physician which natural or artificial sweeteners are better for you, and in which amount. You should also include some physical activity in your daily routine to counteract the calories you’ve consumed.
Remember that it’s not only about “keeping fit”, but, mostly, about your health. So, #DecideItNow and start changing your habits.
We have all heard about the potential dangers of toxins and chemicals in our food. But, do you really know why we’d better keep some foods out of our reach? In this article we’re going to tell you which ingredients you should definitely avoid if you want to stay healthy and fit.
What are toxins?
Toxins are poisonous substances that can be found in our body and our food and which can harm our body organs.
The toxins we’re going to talk about here are called “external toxins”, the ones added artificially to what we eat. These substances can be found basically in EVERYTHING we use day-by-day, from our shampoo to drinking water.
Chemical food additives and weight gain
Every step of the process that puts food on our table (production, harvesting, processing, packing, transport, marketing, and consumption) uses all kind of chemicals. The problem is that some of these chemicals remain in our food and would even persist in our bodies, damaging our overall health.
Recent research has shown that chemical agents in our food can affect our metabolism and trigger the body to pack on pounds. According to Harvard’s School of Public Health, a factor contributing to the obesity epidemic is our exposure to obesogens.
The term obesogen was coined in 2006 to refer to industrial chemicals and the non-caloric components of food that may contribute to weight gain. That’s why it is important to know which of the ingredients in our day-to-day food should be avoided.
Food toxins you should avoid
Most of the chemicals present in American processed food were created in the lab to improve shelf life, reduce mass food production costs or enhance visual appearance of colorful additives.
The bad news is that most of these chemicals make more harm than good, and that’s why we should take some time to read nutritional labels (you can learn here how) and find out which products deserve a place in our shopping trolley.
When you buy your food, it’s very important to make sure they DON’T CONTAIN the following ingredients:
- Trans Fats: Food with trans fats raises your “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and lowers your “good” HDL. They also increase your risk of blood clots and heart attack. Most of “junk” food, doughnuts, pizzas, and margarine sticks contain trans fats.
- Vegetable shortening: Shortening or partially hydrogenated oil clogs your arteries and cause overweight and obesity. They also increase your risk of metabolic syndrome. It’s commonly found in cookies, pasta, snacks, and microwave popcorn. You’d better choose monounsaturated fats, such as olive, peanut and canola oils and foods that contain unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids instead.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS): According to researchers at Tufts University, Americans consume more calories from HFCS than any other source. It’s in practically EVERYTHING: sodas, ketchup, bottled juices, sweetened yoghurts… everything tasting sweet. It increases triglycerides, boosts fat-storing hormones, and drives people to overeat and gain weight.
- BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) & BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene): These food preservatives have been declared carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. It’s also been found they disrupt hormones and impact male fertility. They’re found in processed meats, chewing gum, butters and margarines, cereals, and frozen potatoes.
- Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH/rBST): Produces elevated levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) in dairy products. Besides, it’s a significant factor in breast, prostate and colon cancers. These are commonly found in dairy products, such as milk, yoghurts, ice creams, etc.
- Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs): Almost 70% of processed foods are made of GMOs, which may cause organ damage, gastrointestinal and immune disorders, accelerated aging, and infertility. As basically no product clearly states being a GMO, you should look for a certified USDA Organic, then you’ll know it’s not a GMO.
- Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Benzoate: Benzene is a known carcinogen linked with serious thyroid damage. They’re normally found in sodas, juices, jams, and syrups. Dangerous levels of benzene can build up when plastic bottles of soda are exposed to heat or when the preservatives are combined with ascorbic acid (vitamin C contained in any citrus fruit).
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG): This is a processed “flavor enhancer”, so it’s common to find them in packed snacks, instant soups, chicken-broth substitutes, etc. High levels of free glutamates have been shown to seriously screw with brain chemistry.
- Artificial colors: Added to supplements and foods to make them look more attractive, some of the artificial coloring comes from toxic coal tar (used inside the exterior paints and roofing), and have been linked to many health problems such as autism, ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) and cancer.
- Artificial Sweeteners: Many of our supposedly diet-friendly sweeteners may actually be doing more harm than good! Studies suggest that artificial sweeteners trick the brain into forgetting that sweetness means extra calories, making people more likely to keep eating sweet treats without abandon.
As you can see, most of the foods we buy at the supermarket contain one or more of these ingredients. However, eating wisely can become a lot easier than you think. It’s just a question of being aware of the portions and ingredients that best suits a healthy lifestyle, so #DecideItNow.