The Habit of Healthy Living: Tips for Natural Health & Weight Loss ~ Part 1

“If I’d known I was going to live so long,
I’d have taken better care of myself.”
~Leon Eldred

Our modern, popular culture is full of in-your-face health and weight loss advice!

Especially this time of year…wouldn’t you agree!?!

This advice is most often focused on short-term plans — a.k.a. fad diets — and usually promotes an endless cycle of “yo-yo” dieting. The emphasis always seems to be on calorie counting or some “magic supplement” that’s going to cure your weight loss woes.

Now, if I’m honest, I’d have to say that some of these diet plans aren’t all together bad. Yet they all seem to carry a flaw…

…drastic change.

Calling for a drastic change in lifestyle in order to achieve health is hard to sustain, and inevitably we see temptation give way to failure.

Today I’d like for us to review a few common-sense tips that will hopefully help us to rewire our perspective on diet and nutrition so that we can gain health and balance — and lose weight…naturally.

The Habit of Healthy Living

More often than not, humanity seems to perceive the body as a object…something that can be manipulated to meet certain criteria.

Criteria unfortunately set forth by mainstream advertisement.

Of the many dangers that lie in that type of comparison thinking…the most common revolve around:

  • a style of dieting that more often than not, robs the body of proper nutrition.
  • an exercise regime that leaves the body stressed and over-worked.

So instead of living in extremes, why not work on shifting our thinking — by making small changes — and the good habits will follow!

Baby Steps

What follows is just an example of a few things that have helped me. Take and use what you can, making whatever changes necessary for your unique needs.

1. Inside out. I hope you don’t mind if I ask, but…how do you view your body? Most people go through life very unaware of their physical body — i.e. muscles, organs, skin, bones. The exception comes, of course, when something goes wrong or starts to hurt.  But, what if we started to view our bodies from the inside out. What a difference that small shift would make! 

2. Every Meal. Think of every meal as an opportunity to improve your health.  Food is not the enemy nor is it a source of emotional comfort. Choose foods that benefit the body — ones that are nutritionally dense and life-giving. Learn more from online workshops and/or eBooks such as:

3. Replace commercially-prepared (bad) foods with whole, natural (healthy) foods. And be sure that they are ones you and your family enjoy! I get that frozen, overly-processed, and take-out dinners can at times seem like a real “calorie bargain” — with all of their promises to satisfy your hunger while still keeping everything under a set calorie limit — but trust me…they hold countless hidden dangers.

Why not baby step from:

Here’s an excellent case for eating whole, natural foods (including plenty of raw) and examples of how they can work to restore health.

4. Buy in Bulk. Buying in bulk is a great way to stock up on healthy snacks…it also makes it easier to keep them handy for those times when the food cravings hit. I love buying and preparing little baggies of:

  • nuts instead of chips.
  • dried fruits and berries instead of candy.  

5. Set a goal. Set it in your mind, tell yourself daily, and make your it your goal to feel healthier, more at peace, energetic, stronger and more flexible. Let weight loss be a natural side-effect of gaining health!

6. Get sleep. Although reasonable calorie restriction and excerse are most often recommended (and required) for weight loss…there is significant evidence to show that inadequate sleep is huge contributing factor to obesity. In fact, lack of sleep increases the body’s desire to consume more food and seriously messes with the appetite-regulating hormones.

7. Start looking to plants and minerals. Plants, herbs, and natural earth minerals offer some of the most absorb-able forms of nutrients…one’s that our bodies just drink up with excitement! Instead of looking to synthetic supplements…shift your gaze toward the earth.

Final Thoughts

Now that we have established a few tips for shifting our thinking regarding weight loss and health…part 2 of this mini-series promises to be more “rubber meets the road.”

But before we get into all that — what about you!?! What tips can you share with us regarding healthy living and weight loss? 

Comments

  1. Chew, chew, chew! Chewing your food thoroughly will help you slow down, eat less, and gain more of the nutritive value of the food you eat.

  2. Eat smaller, more frequent meals. I eat every three hours. It keeps your blood sugar more even, and (honestly!) helps with sugar cravings.

    • Hello Rene
      Might I ask you what kind of food you eat every three hours? My biggest wrong is that I only eat twice a day. I walk 6 to 10 km almost every day but I don’t eat enough and that is why my body is holding on to every ounce of fat it can. I eat a healthy müsli in the morning and a salad with fish or meat at around 5/6pm. And then come the cravings around 9pm.
      3 Years ago I lost 23 Kg by counting calories (no more than 1200), drinking water and power walking 10+ Km per day but I put some of it on. I am a terrible chocoholic and always have a sweet tooth.

      Thanks
      Christel

      • If you don’t mind me putting in my 2 cents… kick starting your metabolism will help the pounds to slide off. I juice two lemons, add a tsp. of powdered beet root, a tbsp. of honey and 1/8 tsp. cayenne and drink it every morning. This helps to wake up your metabolism, I also only eat fruit until lunch, since morning is the time your body is cleaning house. The rest of the day I eat as many fresh fruits and uncooked veggies as I can stand.I have lost 35 lbs. in 8 months. It was painless and I never went hungry and ate as much as I wanted of fruits, veggies, nut and seeds. I hope you find the success you desire with your weight loss!

      • Hi Christel,
        I worked with my sister (who recently got certified as a personal trainer) on an eating plan. I eat three smaller meals and then three “snacks” per day, about every three hours. Each meal is about 400 calories and snack around 200 calories. (I allow cheat room if I’d like a small sweet too). Every meal and snack must have protein; it keeps you satisfied longer. I also eat few carbohydrates. Not that I avoid them, but they aren’t a main part of my diet anymore. For instance, breakfast can be healthy granola (measure out portions) with skim milk and fruit. A snack can be a half of a banana with a small portion of almonds, or a greek yogurt. I’d had fun creating healthy lunches and dinners by reading the blog hops here for recipes. Chicken salads, frittata, bean soups–there are many health choices. I also eat some protein bars, but read the labels on those carefully. you want ones with 20 grams of protein and little sugar. They are not created equal. I can relate to being a sugar nut–but I can honestly say that by eating this way, my cravings for sugar are nearly gone. My body is much more level throughout the day–and I’ve lost 15 pounds slowly!

        • Hi.
          Be careful about proteins. If you look careful at a food chart (piramid as you use in the US or pie as “we” use in Europe) you can notice there is little space for protein products, specially from animal origin. But there is a lot of space for carbohydrates. And there is no sugar in such charts… So the trick for “sugar-cravings” is to have enough energy (carbohydrates) in the body to keep it running. Proteins are for building it up so if you are not bodybuilding or groing up, you should restrict the amount of proteins in your diet to 200grams per day at the most.
          For lower digestion you should ingest fibers.
          Between meals drink plenty of water to keep yourself hidrated. Sometimes you think you are hungry but your body is in need of water. Tricks our brains play us.
          Oh, and when I mean carbohydrates I’m talking about bread, potatoes, rice, etc.

          And most important of all in a diet: be happy about it! Otherwise you’ll not stick to your plan.

          (I just lost 10% of my body weight: just what I needed to fell and look healtier.)

          • Hi Joao,
            FWIW, there’s no way I could ever eat 200 grams of protein during the day. :-) The standard American diet has way too many empty carbs (bagels, french fries, etc). I do eat whole grains like steel cut oats, whole grain bread, quinoa, etc. And when I do eat carbs, I measure out serving sizes.

            And yes to drinking plenty of water!

  3. Moderation is key, and not shopping from the inside lanes at the store. We have a small home with very little storage space so bulk buying is not what we do as much as menu-planning and cooking from scratch. Peri-menopause is a pain because my middle is thickening even though I am eating so much better than before, but I will persevere. Shapes change. sigh.

  4. KarinSDCA says:

    I participated in several webinars recently with Jon Gabriel, who wrote book The Gabriel Method (highly recommend it). One tip I read that has been helping me a LOT, and surprised me!, is to take five (5) deep breaths before eating anything. When I heard this tip I had several competing thoughts: How can THAT help? Hmmmm… Wow, I wonder…. Really? If it were that simple, everyone would be slim and trim. Well, I have been combining that simple tip (5 deep breaths before any food passes my lips) with a tip I learned a long time ago and haven’t previously been consistent in doing, which is to bless my food (grace or a secular statement or any expression of gratitude for the food).

    It has only been a week or two, but I can honestly say my stress level while eating has decreased dramatically. I have also put some things back between the initial thought and the fifth deep breath, thereby not eating them.

    Yesterday, I was the main Girl Scout leader running a large planning meeting with 28 girls for four hours. I had been racing around before the meeting and forgot to eat lunch. A friend offered half her sandwich (Subway), but I didn’t find time to eat when the girls were taking a break. I could feel myself feeling icky. I made sure the person running that section of the meeting had a back-up and told my friend I was going to take a break. She handed me the sandwich and I stepped outside. I remembered to take the five deep breaths (which seemed too time-consuming at the time) and I said a quick grateful sentence under my breath. Not only was the food nourishing, but the break and deep breaths and the expression of gratitude all combined to change my entire outlook for the rest of the meeting. It was downright FUN and enjoyable! :)

  5. Thanks for all the wise and practical tips. Especially talking about “baby steps.” I think people can get easily overwhelmed by all the changes, but gradual changes can lead to the same place. Great post!

  6. Watch the sugar – natural types too.

  7. FeatherJackMaine says:

    I’ve recently taken to making large batches of whole, natural (healthy) foods that we enjoy and pressure canning them, immediately eating only what doesn’t fit in the jars or from jars with failed seals. The rest, I pantry. This gives my family a stash of homemade meals of the sort we love (soups, stews, chilis, etc.), made from wholesome ingredients, ALONG WITH the CONVENIENCE of opening a can… We have wildly divergent schedules, so eating together is more coincidence than plan, but we usually have two choices of our favorite foods in the fridge, ready to eat, at any time.

    Pressure canning is not hard. Get a Ball Blue Book and read about it! It’s easy and satisfying!

  8. I would add a couple of things from a Chinese Medicine perspective. Avoid raw foods – really, especially if you are living in winter right now. Your net nutritional gain will be less because your stomach has to heat the food to the temperature of maximum digestion. Lightly stir-fried veg, soups and stews – especially those made in a slow cooker – are great because they’re warm, and digestion has started through the cooking process.
    Eat simple foods – give your digestion a break. Porridges and soups are great, easy to digest.
    Nothing is forever. Make a dietary change, try it for a couple of weeks, then check in with yourself to see if you should continue, or change again.
    Love what you eat, and don’t be in conflict with your food – don’t eat something because someone else told you it was the right thing to eat, unless you can also enjoy it. One of my teachers told me we could live on Twinkies if we were in balance (I love trotting that out for my patients). Attitude is everything.
    Make sure you move – and I’m not talking aerobic exercise. I’m talking about going for a walk, enjoying every minute of it for the break from stress it gives you.
    btw, love your blog!

  9. Not only do I believe in taking five deep breaths before eating, I also drink at least 8-10 Ozs. Of “good” filtered water. Sometimes your body is signaling for water and it is perceived as hunger. Small meals more often and keep moving!

  10. Get rid of your TV. Stop letting other people do your thinking for you.
    Remember that TV is primarily a medium to entertain, sell and propagandize ie: do the thinking for you and therefore influence you in the way that benefits them. Advertisers know full well that to sell you a product, they have to make you think badly about you or your life and offer the product to resolve this.

  11. Great post, I agree that we need to shift our thinking first before gradually improving our eating habits. There is something to be said about eating consciously, learning about nutrition and creating meal plans that your family enjoys.
    Lucky for me it’s time to work in my Florida garden which is an exercise in itself – made me realize just how out of shape I am, huffing and puffing after an hour is not a good thing:).
    I love herbal teas, so this year I will make my own lemongrass, mint tea mixes and lemon balm tea for the first time:) Maybe I’ll finally get brave enough to do something with the elderberries too:)

    My tip would be to drink plenty of water, eat smaller portions, include fruit or salads or fresh greens/vegetables in every meal – no late night sweets:) – walk and take the steps whenever you can!

    … yup, I’ve slacked off – it’s time to walk more and add more fresh fruit and veggies to our daily meals.

  12. As someone who has really struggled hard with weight problems fad dieting has been pushed in my face so much and often results into failure. In the past couple of years more and more I have grown to understand that part of what causing problems is not only my life style but “fake” foods. I have been slowly phasing out unhealthy quick foods in my life. Both my husband and I have seen large changes in ourselves and our “cravings”. The more I search the more I realize that doing things more homemade with better products isn’t hard or have to be more expensive. This past week I saved $100 on my grocery bill by making things such as my own instant oatmeal, granola, and yogurt. I may have spent 15 minutes max preparing or working with each of these things. Not to mention they will last longer than a box of Quaker’s oatmeal. The saving and the changes we have seen have only encouraged everyone at home. We’ve set a goal that each shopping trip we choose a couple of things on that list and try a DIY technique instead. It’s become exciting to everyone and fun.

    Small consistent changes have really done a lot in my family’s life style. We are seeing success in our health, financially, and mentally/emotionally.

  13. This is such a great post! Really got me thinking and encouraged to start making small changes to improve my diet! Thank you!
    I don’t really do anything now, but I try to have a full glass of water as soon as I get up in the morning even before my coffee. And I suggest eating breakfast. I always have a small container of oatmeal with cinammon at work :)

  14. To eat for health, happiness and a general great feeling, I believe that nutrient density should be the biggest factor. Keeping that in mind it is easy to be confused:

    If you compare 100 calories (not weight!) of greens with 100 calories of meat, fish, cheese or eggs you will be surprised to see:

    - Greens actually have MUCH more protein than animal products
    - Greens have plenty of essential fatty acids
    - Greens are chocoblock full of nutrients and micronutrients
    - Greens are full of fibre
    - Animal products are empty of fibre
    - Animal products have A LOT more calories coming from bad fats than from protein
    - The amount of nutrients in animal products is laughable

    Now, I have to admit that I am not a vegan (yet), but I guess it all starts with the understanding of how to eat (long term) the most nutrient dense diet and I am definitely working towards it. Fingers crossed! ; )
    By eating a nutrient dense diet you will also have less cravings, because your body is actually being filled with the things it needs – nutrients, essential fatty acids and fibre
    Eating this way can apparently reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, fight Diabetes II, help your heart (amongst other things) and make you slim and healthy.

    I’m definitely striving to eat that way as I think it is the natural way to good health and wellbeing.

    Good luck to everybody! : )

  15. I obviously love your blog! Well – obvious to me ; )
    Love everybody’s input! Thanks guys! : )

  16. I am doing the Raw Milk Diet. Our friends at the Family Cow did it and lost 30lbs. He wrote little newsletters tracking his time on what he called the raw milk feast. :) I love raw milk and really need a jump start to kicking these extra rolls, so my husband and I thought I should do it. Well see I am going to document my raw milk feast so people can see how it went for me. Obviously it not something we can live on for the rest of our lives, however, it may give us ladies the booster help we need to “combat the fat”.

    Andrea have you ever looked into the raw milk diet or done it yourself? I could email you my testimony of doing it after I am finished. You could cover it on your blog if you would like. Or maybe you know someone else who would like to do that. Let me know siobhan.gagliardo@gmail.com

    Blessings to you all this beautiful cold winters day,
    Siobhan

    • Hi
      Would/could you elaborate on the raw milk diet please, and what will you do when you come off the raw milk diet?

      Sending kind greetings from NZ
      Christel

  17. Oh sorry I might to but in my farmer friend at the Family Cow’s newsletter. Check it out!!!

    http://www.yourfamilycow.com/fresh-thoughts/i-really-shouldnt-tell-you-this

    Blessings,
    Siobhan

  18. I have an issue when using the black and white terms such a s “bad” or “good” when it comes to food. I think our western mindset is part of the problem when it comes to obesity, the thinking that there is only one solution and categorizing things in such a black and white way. I prefer to view things as a spectrum, where the things that are nourishing, the best things for me on one end, the middle ground where there is a mix of healthy and not so great and then the other end that is not nourishing to me at all. Just seems less punishing then the black and white way of categorizing food.

  19. Get enough fibre! As adults we should consume between 25-30 g fibre/day, yet most adults only get about 12-14 g fibre/day. Whole grains are helpful in this regard, but to truly up the amount of fibre you get you should include things like chia seed, psyllium husks, ground flax, etc. Adding fibre ensures that toxins, cholesterol and excess hormones are eliminated from your body. I start my day with a bowl of oatmeal filled with goodies! Check out my website http://www.nourishwithkaren.com for the recipe.

  20. Use a small plate. Like a salad plate instead of a dinner plate. And take 1 Tsp. off of everything you put on your plate. Work yourself up to 1 Tbsp.

  21. Sarah Adams says:

    Try not to shop at the grocery store! Farmers Markets and food co-ops are abundant (at least in our medium sized city).
    The best compliment a friend gave me when I opened our refrigerator was, “Hey, there are no logos in your fridge!”
    And a hearty “amen” to the reader who said, “Get rid of your television.” Absolutely!

  22. Elizabeth Green says:

    In our family, we don’t have much processed food. I enjoy making yogurt, granola, pizza etc. I am lucky enough to be a stay at home mom and have time to do these things. We have only one rule that we try to follow every day and we learned it from Sesame Street. Eat a rainbow of food every day. It is easy to get even toddlers involved. If they are old enough to know their colors, they can help in selecting foods at the market, out of the fridge or the fruit bowl. It is a great way to form a lifelong habit of good eating and is so easy to follow. Good luck!

  23. I’m so there. I just had a hysterectomy. I have been ‘recovering’ by sitting and sitting and sitting. I’ve gained 10 lbs. I’m up to 10 minutes on my treadmill on the lowest sitting. :( I have to admit I wasn’t too careful with the foods I ate. I am now!

    Thanks for the post!

  24. all I can say to everyone’s comments-WATCH FORK OVER KNIVES.
    You will be shocked and very informed.

  25. As a first baby step, I would add keeping a simple food journal for at least a week. Note the time of day you eat, what you consumed (everything counts including liquids) and include a comment about WHY you are eating at that moment. Are you hungry, bored, avoiding a task? Is it habitual (e.g. always have 3 cups of coffee before I get dressed), an emotional response to stress? Do you eat at regular times because of habits or family schedules rather than when you are truly hungry?
    We need to understand our relationship with food and how our emotions are connected to food.
    As individuals, we each have unique metabolisms and lifestyles. One diet may work really well for a person and make another person ill. Look to traditional foods (our bodies have evolved with meat proteins and vegetables and wild grains) and then, again, become aware of how you feel when you eat something. Any kind of change begins with awareness. I echo the call in this post to know how our bodies work. They are amazing little machines!

  26. Unhealthy diet practice and modern life style are the important reason for unhealthiness in most of the people. Modern busy life which is full of stress and worries makes the condition even worst. A good healthy lifestyle and food habit is necessary to lead a healthy life.

  27. What you have authored in The Habit of Healthy Living: Tips for Natural Health &
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  28. Be cautious about what you intake and how much your intake. Avoid junk foods and add more amount of foods and fruits to your diet chart. Never keep any vegetables or fruits aside.

  29. Excellent health tips. I too agree with you. A sudden change in your diet practice is not entertained. Human body requires certain time to adapt to changes.

  30. Many people expects their weight loss should happen immediately like a magic, but it is not possible for any one. You should be patient and dedicated enough to see the results quickly.

  31. Your weight loss tips are helpful.Thanks for your smart tips.Good luck.

  32. Nice post. In order to live a healthy life style, you should intake more natural health supplements.

  33. I decided this year to quit focusing on weight loss altogether. I have instead decided to work on over all health, beginning with a goal of picking up 12 healthy habits by the end of the year. Each habit is tracked with a simple x on the calendar every day to indicate that I followed through. I am making an effort to more consistently reach for that apple instead of that brownie, and for a glass of water instead of a Dr. Pepper. I park further away from the door so I have to walk extra steps, and now that the weather is warmer I’m taking the dogs for more walks, which is good for both them and I. I failed at weight loss. So that is no longer the goal. One of two things will happen, I will lose some weight as a result of my healthier choices, or I won’t lose the weight, but my body will have a healthier foundation with which to carry it. With all the talk about weight loss everywhere I look, it is hard to keep a focus on my goal. I’ve set one I can be successful at. And that’s what I’m working towards. I love love love this post.

  34. Joanna Johnson says:

    One of the most important rules when loosing weight is keeping your goal realistic. Make a checklist of all the small goals you need to achieve in order to get to the big one which is loosing the actual weight. And never give up your goal!
    Scientist recomment cleaning instead of heavy workout for handling the weight problem in an early stage, but not everyone agrees. What do you think?

    Joanna,
    @ http://www.fantasticductcleaningmelbourne.com.au/

  35. Very smart ways to eat healthy and stay healthy. Even I use the same principal that, instead of dieting take a proper and healthy diet along with 7-8 glass of water a day. As it makes you more energetic and do regular exercise to maintain fitness.

  36. Healthy diet is an important part to lose weight. You have to allocate your times for physical activities beside that because the activities can be so helpful to burn calories and fat. Besides, they can be so helpful to keep your body healthy.

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