This article first appeared on drcarp.com.
If you read diet books or articles, you will notice how many of these focus on what you need to stop eating. Most of us are aware that we need to avoid processed carbohydrates, sugar, and fatty food, but an equally important or perhaps an even more important factor in healthy weight loss is what you need to add to your diet.
You need to focus on nutritional additions, so you can gradually turn healthy eating into a habit. When this habit becomes a lifestyle where eating the right kinds and amount of food is an automatic and intuitive process, then your journey to weight loss and better health becomes a lot easier.
Four Things to Add to Your Diet
Here are the four things you need to add to your diet:
1. One pound of green vegetables a day.
Aim to eat at least one pound of green veggies a day. One half of it should be raw and the other half should be fully cooked. The reason for doing this is there are certain vegetables that are made more bioavailable by cooking and at the same time, there are also some that are made less bioavailable or less absorbed by cooking. If you get a ratio of half raw and half fully cooked, then that will optimize the benefits of eating these leafy greens.
Adding one pound of green veggies may sound difficult at first, but it’s doable. You can have a big salad for breakfast or lunch and steamed or stir-fried greens for dinner. You can also add your leafy greens to soup.
2. A handful of nuts per day.
Adding one handful of nuts per day to your diet evens out your blood sugar. Regulating your blood sugar helps control cravings. Some of the best nuts are almonds, walnuts, macadamias, and pecans. These are all rich in protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. Various studies and clinical trials suggest that eating nuts does not contribute to obesity and may even help with you lose weight.
Avoid cashews and peanuts because they’re not nuts. Also, stay away from any kind of roasted nuts. These roasted nuts are often soaked in rancid oils. Dry roasted nuts, on the other hand, may have damaged essential fatty acids because high temperatures destroy these.
3. Ground flax, chia, or hemp seeds.
Add two tablespoons of ground flax, chia or hemp seeds to your diet. These provide you with essential fatty acids, which have been found to improve health, boost mental and physical performance, and help treat certain conditions. These also give you lignans, which are potent anti-cancer compounds that are in flax.
If you choose to grind flax, be aware that it's not going to stay good and fresh for that long because these fats are highly unstable. If you buy the whole flaxseed, grind them and have two tablespoons of it. You can mix it in water or add it to your salad and smoothie. Ground flax is an excellent source of fiber.
4. One apple per day.
There is a valid reason why the saying, "An apple a day, keeps the doctor away" has been circulating for many years. Apples have been associated with beneficial effects on weight management, diabetes, gastrointestinal protection, pulmonary function, cancer, heart disease, asthma, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Apples in particular help control cravings and fat storage because these prevent sugar crash. The soluble fiber in apples reduce the amount of sugar and calories you absorb after eating. You will find that adding apples, plus the one pound of veggies, a handful of nuts, and ground flax, chia, or hemp seeds to your diet will naturally decrease your food cravings.
One of the members of the Weight Loss Awaking Friendship group actually commented about that. She said she was losing weight steadily and she realized she was no longer craving the sweets that she used to before. We all need to understand that for many of us, what we’re experiencing is blood sugar spike when we have these cravings for sweets. Blood sugar fluctuations causes these food cravings.
However, if you get all one pound of greens, that handful of nuts, that one apple with all the fiber in the apple, and the two tablespoons of flaxseeds per day, I guarantee you—you will be able to balance your blood sugar and you will feel better. Your cravings are going to decrease just by adding these four things alone. That's why I think it’s important not to focus so much on taking everything out from your diet.
Generally speaking, all of us know what we need to take out. We know we need to take out sugar. We know we need to take out white flour and junk food, but if we focus on adding instead of subtracting, then you're going to see these cravings really even out. And you're going to feel a whole lot better.
The Concept of Inserting Space
There is a quote by renowned psychiatrist and Holocaust-survivor Viktor Frankl that says, "Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our power to choose. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."
Think of instances where you're driving around and someone cuts you off, then you slam your horn and get angry. In other words, you just reacted without really thinking. But there was a stimulus and a response and remember that in between those two, you also have that space where you can choose what to do.
This quote can be applied to our food choices. With our health choices, we are often a victim of having no space between stimulus and response. Every moment of each day, we are given a choice and it reminds me of that quote in the Bible that says, "Every day I set before you, life or death, choose life."
And so, every moment that we have, we have a choice to make and we need to drill down and think about that in all aspects of our life. With anything that you plan to add to or subtract from your diet, let this question help you decide: "Is this a life-affirming decision or a life-denying decision?"
When you are consciously making a choice to add the four things mentioned above into your diet, then you are becoming an active participant in your health. And you are becoming not just your own authority, but also your own advocate for yourself.