With Joelle Mintzberg, CNP, EPC

There are many unique paths to successful weight loss and there isn’t one right way for every person. However, there is a general guideline, listed below, that can help you to achieve great results. It is important to adopt these guidelines to best suit your lifestyle based on what your own body needs to thrive.

  1. Macro Nutrient Balance & Eating Rhythm

Optimal nutrient intake is crucial in helping to balance blood sugar levels, manage hunger and energy levels. An optimal balance includes eating three meals a day consisting of a lean protein (the size of your palm), lots of non-starchy veggies, and a serving of a low-glycemic (less sweet) carbohydrate. One to two snacks a day between meals will also help to keep you full and ensure that your blood sugar is balanced.

The other side of the coin is ensuring that your eating routine is scheduled. This will help to avoid snacking and munching in between meals, resulting in overeating and faulty digestion.

  1. Keep Blood Sugar Balanced

Blood sugar balancing is crucial in decreasing insulin and cortisol. It will also help to eliminate food cravings. Sugar sends your body on a roller coaster ride of highs and lows. The lows (hypoglycemia) triggers your brain to think that you are in a state of emergency and activates your stress response.

Here are a few simple steps to follow in balancing blood sugar levels:

  • Eat a healthy breakfast with good quality protein
  • Include lean protein and non-starchy veggies in all of your meals
  • Eat only nutrient rich foods, emphasizing proteins, high quality fats, low glycemic fruits and vegetables
  • Enjoy a meal or a snack every 3-4 hours
  • Consume enough protein, based on your weight (0.8-1.2 grams of protein per kg of weight, depending on how much you work out)
  • Keep your fridge and pantry health friendly

Highly refined carbohydrates will spike blood sugar levels and encourage the pancreas to produce insulin. This facilitates the accumulation of fat and guards against its depletion. Swap fast-release, refined carbs for slow-burning, unrefined ones: brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, and amaranth.

  1.  Pay Attention to your Emotions

Find ways to feel full other than food. Sometimes feelings of emptiness, sadness, loneliness or boredom can also activate our stress response and trigger hormones and chemicals in our brains that stimulate cravings acting as a need to fill us. Since fat, sugar, and salt “feed” us when we are in a stress response by calming the anxiety that arises. Therefore, we crave these foods when we feel empty emotionally.

  1. Get Physical

Exercising regularly can help you reconnect with your physical self. Working out also reduces depression and anxiety, two common emotional eating triggers. Those who exercise regularly experience fewer food cravings than non-exercisers.

Rather than approaching exercise solely as a way to burn calories or achieve the perfect body, focus on how exercise makes you feel mentally and physically stronger. This will help you to be more successful. When you feel more comfortable in your own skin and more confident about your physical self, you’re also less likely to turn to food as a coping mechanism. As a general guideline, exercising 3-5 times a week for 20-30 minutes is optimal.

  1. Stay Hydrated

Drinking water helps boost your metabolism, cleanse your body of waste and acts as an appetite suppressant. Also, drinking more water helps your body stop retaining water, leading you to drop those extra pounds of water weight. As a general guideline, drinking at least 1L of pure water daily is optimal for health and weight loss. If you don’t like the taste of water, add a squeeze of lemon or try herbal tea!

  1. Sleep Well

We’ve all experienced fatigue leading to sugar cravings which consists of the same vicious cycle of stress, cravings, weight gain and so on. Getting 7-8 hours each night is optimal. Less than this also leads to activation of the stress response and increased cortisol levels. It is best to get to sleep when the first wave of fatigue hits – usually around 10 pm.

In applying these general guidelines to your everyday life, I hope to encourage you to look past conventional wisdom and become attuned to what your own body needs to thrive to feel your very best.