Monday, 4 June 2012

Factors Besides Diet that Affect your Weight

I know I usually write about just food, but there are so many other important factors which affect your weight and general well-being. I've had my share of slumps and plateaus with my weight, and it's made me consider what else could contribute to this. After some research, I've come to discover what you put into your mouth is only a part of the equation.

Food Combining
The time you eat something is almost as important as what it is. As I've mentioned, I suffer from digestive problems quite frequently. Because of this, I am constantly on the lookout for ways to help my body digest food so that it is able to absorb its nutrients most effectively.

Animal protein takes the most energy for your body to digest, so it's gonna take the longest. Combining protein (from any source) with starchy foods interferes with the digestion process because they both need different types of digestive enzymes. If your body is spending all its energy digesting your food, the nutrients the food contains may not be properly absorbed. Another couple rules to follow are: drink liquids before or at least a half hour after a meal, eat fruit half an hour before your meal or wait a while after, and try not to pair fruits and veggies in the same meal. Some fruits do not pair well together because of their level of acidity (some need a different pH to digest). This seems like a lot of info, so I'd recommend reading Food Combining and Digestion by Steve Meyerowitz.

I'm a pretty happy person, so most people are surprised I've struggled with anxiety for years. I would love to say my life is stress-free, but despite trying my best to be an optimist, sometimes things really get to you and wreck havoc on your health.

So, my point - how can stress make you fat? Well, number one, some people turn to eating when they're stressed. I am, unfortunately, one of those people who craves food when stressed. There are a few ways to deal with this: have healthy snacks ready to eat, practice deep breathing to center your mind, drink lots of water or quickly redirect your mind by calling a friend or reading a book. I find I just need to be out of the house when I'm stressed and fear emotional eating will take its toll.

In addition, stress produces the hormone cortisol, which contributes to your body's storage of fat, especially near your abdomen. Stress hormones also have an affect on digestion, which prevents your body's elimination of toxins, which can make you really bloated and suck your energy.

To try and relieve unnecessary stress, try practicing yoga, associate yourself with other optimists and stay active.

How many of us sleep 8 hours a night? I try to, but in reality, a number is a just a number. When it comes to healthy sleep, quality trumps quantity.

When you're well rested, your mind functions in a state of clarity. You can make better decisions, like avoiding junk food. Your body won't crave quick crash-and-burn stimulants like caffeine and sugar to get you through your day. Your body has had restorative sleep, so it can focus on carrying out other functions now. Since it's done "cleaning house", it can provide you with energy through the nutrients in your food, give you a healthy blood supply to your brain so you can be fresh and bright, and you will look much more lively to all your peers!

Some ways to ensure a restful sleep: Avoid eating protein so close to bed time. Any food should be avoided about three hours before bed, but I always say if you're starving, something quickly digestible like fruit is okay in small quantities. If you're stressed before bed, do some deep breaths and try not to focus on stressful thoughts. Avoid liquids an hour or so before bed.

Body Image
Yes, this is an important one! Why? Because how you perceive yourself physically affects how you perceive food, which affects how you eat and live, which affects how you look. For example, if I think I look fat and gross, I may think food is all to blame. I eat salads all the time and loathe eating in general. Inevitably, I will go for a round of cheeseburgers one day because my body has had enough of this judgement and ill feelings towards eating.

If I feel proud of who I am, knowing I'm never going to be a size nothing who's ribs are showing, then I will feel great about eating. I care about my body, so I want to put great stuff into it to nourish it, but I also know it needs a little treat once in a while. In turn, I make my body happy, and it makes me happy!

Do I always feel amazing about myself? God, no. These realizations came from long periods of self loathing and desperately wanting to be pin thin. Now, I try to relate to the latter person mentioned, who has a love-love relationship with their body. We may not be able to be that person 100% of the time, but having that in your mind will help a ton!

Happy living, my fellow veggies. I hope you are all inspired to do some great stuff for yourself to help relieve stress, sleep better and improve your digestion.

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