We are feeling the effects of the holidays – a little too much sugar, a glass of wine here and there (more here, than there!), a few too many nibbles and not enough salads! We both want to start the year on track with healthier living.
We know this is on your to-do list too! We surveyed Well.ca customers for their New Year’s Resolutions for 2016, and at the top was a desire to eat healthier, along with exercising, and managing your weight. So, where do you start? Should you cut out carbs? Track your calories? What about a cleanse?
Managing your weight isn’t a secret: it comes down to a well-stocked, healthy pantry, cooking your own food (and not relying on pre-packaged or frozen meals, which are often filled with added sugars and fat), and planning your meals in advance. “It is a great idea to cook up a huge pot of quinoa and brown rice or other grains for the week – you can throw them in soups and build salads around them. Healthy grains should be a central part of your diet,” says Vancouver nutritionist Maria Thomas, who runs Urban Nutrition.
We know exercise has to be a piece of the puzzle, too, and in the next few weeks we are going to get some great exercise ideas for you – many you can do at home. We are also watching 2016 health trends for weight management, and we asked Nutritionist Maria Thomas, and Toronto naturopath Jen Tanner to ‘weigh’ in with their top five tips for managing your weight in 2016.
Here we go – a Healthy You Awaits!
2016 Top Five Trends for Managing Weight:
- Increase Probiotics
Both of us have probiotics on the tops of our lists, and the American Council of Exercise just named probiotics as the number one nutrition trend to watch in 2016. Our experts agree: probiotics are key players. “It is difficult to lose weight if your gastrointestinal system is not functioning optimally,” says Tanner. “Probiotics help balance your GI flora and encourage regular bowel movements.” Lots of evidence shows that probiotics keep the GI system functioning, by increasing the ration of good to bad bacteria in the gut. This helps us digest better, and protects us from harmful bacteria. Great food sources for probiotics are kefir, yogurt and fermented products like kimchi or sauerkraut. You can also buy probiotics in supplement form, which is equally effective.
- Check your Pulse
We think it is very cool the United Nations just named 2016 “International Year of The Pulse (Quinoa took that top billing in 2013!!!). Pulses are lentils, chickpeas and other dried peas and are powerhouses – jammed with protein and fiber. They are very important in managing weight loss: in a study published in Obesity, researchers found that 31 per cent of participants who ate pulses reported feeling fuller, which helped them lose weight. Replacing animal protein meals with pulses is also a good idea for weight loss, says Tanner. Try to work ¾ of a cup per day into your diet. Roasted chickpeas are a great snack we like to have in the office!
Along with pulses, seeds are also on the radar as a 2016 health trend: pumpkin, sunflower, flax, hemp…seeds are it!! “We don’t eat enough seeds,” says Tanner. “They are a great source of protein, healthy fat and help balance hormones which can be a reason people have difficulty losing weight. Plus, you can send your kids to school with them! Try a sunflower seed butter and honey sandwich – yum!”
- Know portion sizes
One of the key tips for managing weight loss is to know your portion sizes and stick to them. “My clients are shocked when I show them what a portion size really looks like – they are often eating four to five times the amount,” says Thomas. Fill a plate with veggies, and when you are adding things like protein, carbs and fat to the meal go with these easy to follow protein measurements: For protein, use the palm of your hand; for carbs, your cupped hand; for veggies your fist and for fats use your thumb. For women, an average meal should involve one serving of each (two servings of veggies is great though!)
- Go Green
Filling your plate with fruits and vegetables is the number one tip among nutritionists when helping clients lose weight. “Following more of a plant-based diet is not only good for weight management, but it will also help reduce the risk of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer,” says Thomas. Aim for 7-10 servings a day. If someone is sensitive to sugar, or has diabetes, focusing more on vegetables can help keep blood sugar levels balanced, says Thomas – this is important for maintaining energy levels and to keep cravings at bay.
- Focus on Satiety
It is a fact that protein keeps you fuller longer. Try to choose your protein from a variety of sources and think of the other nutrients you are getting at the same time. Rebecca has been really focused increasing her Omega 3s, which have a ton of health benefits, and is trying to get her family to eat fish at least once a week!
The quintessential question: Do you have to cut carbs?
Both our experts agree – you don’t have to cut out carbs to lose weight. But be conscious of the carbs you are eating – try to eliminate the white stuff and get your carbs from healthy sources, such as quinoa, brown and wild rice, oats. There are new kids on the block too, like buckwheat and amaranth. Most importantly, make sure carbs only take up one-quarter to one-third of your plate.
If you are feeling sluggish and you know you have indulged a little too much, you might be thinking about cleansing or detoxing. We will have a blog early next week all about this – stay tuned!
Rebecca & Erin