If you are looking for ways how to get rid of the extra pounds while no starving your self for that goal and feel great instead – these tips are for you! In order to experience the benefits I am suggesting I strongly recommend you avoiding gluten, meat, processed foods, saturated oils and all diary products for at least 2 weeks in order to give your body sufficient time to heal your digestion, improve your endurance and mood, detox itself and serve you better in all ways of life later. It is worth it, I promise!
1. Freshen up your mornings with hot water with lemon.
After awaking your body is very thirsty and needs hydration. Avoid eating right after coming out of bed; instead, find a time to drink a cup of hot water with lemon before going to work, school or whenever you are up to. Lemons are natural healers and prepare your digestion for the upcoming influx of food. Another tip is to add to your drink a touch of cayenne pepper – anti-inflammatory and natural burner spice.
N.B! Drink lots of water during the day also and avoid drinking right before or after eating as it messes up with your digestion. Yes, soda is off limits at that point but if you are not a H2O person, you can also quench your thirst with coconut water – rich in potassium and electrolytes drink.
2. Go for an easy and energetic breakfast. Make yourself a smoothie.
I always have a smoothie for breakfast and even carry it with me in a jar when I don`t have time to sip it all at once; the simple sugar in fruit gives me energy and the omegas-3 in greens make my mind more focused and clear. Here is a step-by-step tool how to make a Glowing Green Smoothie, a recipe that I love from author and nutritionist Kimberly Snyder whom I recommend you checking out also. You can find different smoothie ideas on my blog also.
3. Choose vegan protein sources that are not overly processed (like soy or whey brands).
The recommended intake of protein is seriously overrated in the American society while in reality we need a lot less than the Media promotes, check out this article to read more in depth. When switching to a plant-based diet it will be natural for you to crave more satiating products.I personally use the VEGA protein powder brand and add a scoop of it a day to my after-workout smoothie. You can find it in Supper Supplements and Whole Foods.
4. Educate yourself about the food you are eating.
It is very important and precisely motivational to really understand the aesthetics of plant-based life. You need to tune with your body in order to feel changes. I recommend you checking the works by Dr Colin.Campbell, Dr. Neal Barnard and Dr. John Mcdougall. A must books are “The China Study” (by Dr. Campbell), “Breaking the food seduction” (By Neal Barnard), “The Spectrum” (By Dean Ornish) and the documentary “Forks over knives” (you can stream it online).
5. Avoid caffeine for a while and try substituting it for green tea.
I know coffee is a beverage hard to get off if you are a heavy user but If you are cleansing your body it is very important to give your liver a break and save him the burden to process highly stimulating substances as caffeine and alcohol. Your liver should need to focus instead entirely on kicking out toxins from your blood vessels and hence improving your digestion (and also external complexion). You can, however, drink green tea as it doesn`t affect your blood pressure that much and is still stimulating; an even better option to try is Matcha – natural fat burner and potent antioxidant. Believe me, it works!
Alternative to green tea and Matcha is Yerba Mate – you can have it before coming to my class, it aids with physical performance and improves endurance.
6. Limit your dairy. Craving cheese? Try nutritional yeast.
The pasteurized milk products on the store shelves contain a lot of hormones that farmers inject in cows and I sense you know you don`t need to intake them in your body. Moreover, over consuming of cheese affects your cholesterol levels significantly and gradually clogs up your arteries. There are so many options on the market that are lactose-free and could help you feel better while not feeling deprived from your comfort foods (almond, rice, coconut and hemp milk are great options and you really must try coconut yogurt to see for yourself that it tastes just as good – and is so much healthier than yogurt!)
If you are eating a pasta (and you can choose variety of gluten-free brands) and are, understandably, missing your cheese melting on top- sprinkle some nutritional yeast instead – yellow-looking flakes that are a powerhouse of amino acids and different minerals with a “cheesy” flavor. I use it a lot in my salad dressings and you can find it in every Whole Foods store. Learn more about its properties here.
7. Limit your sodium. Increase your sea veggies intake.
If you are staying away of processed foods, that are packed with high levels of sodium, you are already one step ahead on your path for healthier food choices but make sure to avoid adding salt to your meals as well, except for maybe one tea spoon a day and preferably the Himalayan type, which is a much better option than table salt..If are not a salt eater, that`s great. but you still need your iodine. That`s a mineral essential for the proper functioning of your thyroid – an organ responsible for your hormonal balance and thus digestion too. Go ahead and try foods like kelp, dulse (my favorite) or nori that are naturally salty and yet in a small healthy range. You can find them in big stores or order them online.
8. Chew your food slowly.
I know It`s hard not to rush your chewing when you are hungry but please do make your best to keep this advise in mind. Chewing invokes our natural enzymes which in turn help us break down nutrients and absorb them efficiently. You can also consider supplementing with plant-based enzymes until your digestion improves. You can find them in healthy stores.
9. Keep your fat intake to a minimum.
Fat in small amounts is essential to our diet but it should be no more than 15% of your daily intake, or around 20 grams per day. If you abstain from adding oil to your food you will find your food receptors to become much more sensitive to flavors and soon you will start enjoying the texture of your veggies and produce much more as it is with no additives. Ideally, start making your own salad dressings. I upload my own innovations frequently and I hope to get you inspired to explore recipes yourself! If you are too pressed for time, you can narrow your dressing to simply using balsamic vinegar (I like the Bregg`s brand), fresh lemon juice and some spices.
On the subject of fat, the only fat I do recommend you using, if you really crave it, is avocado – and for starters no more than 1/4 per day. After you gradually lose the pounds you want you can introduce once again different plant-based fats like seeds and nuts (no more than a cup a day; if you cannot resist them – don`t start them at all). Food that is not in your cupboard won`t be in your stomach and that applies to all type of products you don`t necessarily need to eat – the infamous “empty” calories foods.
10. End your day with a cup of herbal tea.
During the day, do you best to eat an abundance of fresh fruits and veggies but don`t consume fruits right before or after cooked meals. Raw foods digest much quicker and eating fruit after cooked meal results in a virtual gridlock in your stomach (an article on food combining is coming soon). Avoid that unpleasant sensation of heaviness and bloating, at least until your digestion get better! Also, during the day you use the most of your calories for your daily life activities and you need to fuel your body with a lot of pure unrefined sources of carbohydrates like fruits, grains and legumes. When it comes time to dinner, that`s when you are more relaxed and are able to enjoy one or two courses of, preferably, cooked plant-based meal complemented by big salad. In my experience, when I eat light in the day I enjoy my dinner much much and since I don`t eat solid breakfast the next day the food I had in the evening has at least 8-12 h. to fully digest. Eating light in the day naturally increases your metabolism and improves energy levels! I suggest you try this method of fueling yourself with your meals instead of just curbing your appetite. Make it a pleasure to eat not only for the sake of meeting your physical needs but also for your emotional and holistic state of mind.
That said, after your last meal make yourself a herbal tea and indulge in the benefits of a better sleep (courtesy to your healthier and cleaner diet).
Good Luck and stay tuned for more info!