Chuggin' and Grubbin': Food & Drink for a Healthier You in 2014
Posted 1/3/2014 12:05:00 PM

Are you focused on getting fit for 2014? Other than exercise, we gotta do an evaluation of what we put on our plates – which means we have to watch what we buy! When it comes to healthy dieting, restricting yourself to liquid diets, solely juicing, nominal food and fasts aren’t key. When you use those methods to lose weight, they are a temporary fix. In fact, when you stop you often gain even more weight. And while fasting from certain foods or spiritual fasting for a period is fine, when you go without enough calories for a prolonged period, your body will store fat versus burn it off. They key is balance, portion control, and eating enough of the right foods. Nutritional researcher Joel Fuhrman, MD's reveals five weight loss superfoods.

Via Essence.com.

1. Leafy Greens

Dr. Fuhrman's Take: I like to say, "The more you eat green, the more you get lean!" Leafy greens have the highest ratio of nutrients to calories of any food. When you eat a huge leafy salad, your body is taking in less than 100 calories per pound. Leafy greens and raw salad vegetables are high in fiber and water, so they take up a lot of room in the stomach. You are consuming a small amount of calories in a large amount of food. This will leave less room for more calorie-dense foods, and you will naturally consume fewer calories, without feeling hungry or deprived. Furman says that begin lunch and dinner with a big bowl of leafy greens like mixed lettuces, romaine, arugula or shredded cabbage. Then add onions or scallions, shredded carrots or beets, cucumbers, tomatoes and any other vegetables you enjoy. The right dressing is crucial: a great dressing made with healthful, whole food fats (nuts and seeds or avocado) is the secret to eating and enjoying salad every day.

2. Healthful Fats from Nuts and Seeds

Dr. Fuhrman's Take: Eating "low-fat" is a misguided weight loss strategy. Fats have important nutritional roles in the body and whole food fats like nuts and seeds actually help with weight loss. Fat slows the emptying of the stomach and makes meals satiating. Studies have also suggested that many of the calories in nuts are inaccessible to the digestive system, meaning that we can’t absorb all of them. In contrast, all of the calories in oils are accessible to the digestive system, and they are absorbed more quickly, so they don’t have the same satiating effects that nuts have.  Furman says don’t use nuts as a snack! When you snack on nuts and seeds it is very easy to overeat. Instead, use raw nuts and seeds (or raw nut butters) to make salad dressings or to top your salad. Eating fat with your salad helps your body absorb fat-soluble nutrients from the greens.  Try mixing some almonds with a garlicky tomato sauce and dark vinegar—simply delicious.

3. Beans

Dr. Fuhrman's Take: Beans, lentils and other legumes are high-nutrient, high-fiber, and low-calorie, so you can eat them in large quantities without worrying about weight gain. Beans are unique in that they have a very low glycemic load and their carbohydrate enters the bloodstream slowly, which is beneficial for weight loss. Also, the high fiber and the fact that they're slowly digested limits the amount of calories we can absorb from beans and makes bean-containing meals very satiating. Beans at lunch help to prevent afternoon cravings. Furman says that over the weekend; make a big pot of vegetable and bean soup or chili, so you can take a bowl with you to work for the next few days. When you are short on time, lunch can be salad greens topped with a can (preferably BPA-free) of no salt added beans, a small handful of nuts or seeds and flavored vinegar.

4. Mushrooms

Dr. Fuhrman's Take: Mushrooms are high in fiber and nutrients and low in calories, but their chewy, meaty texture makes them a hearty stand-in for meat in burgers, stews and other dishes. Mushrooms also benefit the immune system and contain breast cancer-preventive phytochemicals.  Interestingly, mushrooms also interfere with fat storage on the body and promote weight loss. Furman says only eat mushrooms cooked, because they contain a mild toxin that dissipates with heat. Water sauté with onions, garlic and spices or use them to add substance to soups and stews. Try a recipe for mushroom bean burgers, and you won’t miss the meat.

5. Berries

Dr. Fuhrman's Take: Berries are the lowest-sugar, lowest-calorie fruits, plus they are rich in flavonoid antioxidants. Phytochemicals in berries also inhibit certain digestive enzymes, which limits calorie absorption from meals. Berries have anti-cancer effects and are on the list of foods (along with cruciferous vegetables and some mushrooms) that contain compounds called angiogenesis inhibitors, which may help to inhibit fat storage in the body. Furman says at the end of a meal; satisfy your sweet tooth with fresh berries. You can also blend up frozen berries and other fruit into a delicious sorbet. For breakfast, top steel cut oats with walnuts and fresh berries or combine frozen berries with leafy greens and chia or flax seeds for a healthy green smoothie.

And what about drinking? We know we need plenty of H20, but add some lemon or lime! Lemons and lime add refreshing zest while cleansing and enhancing immune properties, according to Tracy Springs of LA Fitness.  In fact, she reveals to Rolling Out Magazine other health factors of these fruits.

First, lemon and lime juice are very alkalizing to the body. Since the majority of the population is acidic (due to diet and stress), drinking lemon or lime water is one step to bringing about a more alkaline pH. Why is this important?  Because many forms of disease thrive in an acidic body. Also, lemon and limes are both excellent sources of vitamin C, B6, potassium, folic acid, flavonoids and the outstanding phytochemical, limonene. Limonene has anti-cancer effects and help increase the level of enzymes that detoxify carcinogens. Other benefits to adding lemons (or limes) to your water include:

Clearer skin – Vitamin C rejuvenates the skin from within your body.

Increased energy and enhanced mood – The scent of lemon has mood enhancing and energizing properties. The smell can brighten your mood and help clear your mind. Lemon can also help reduce anxiety and depression.

Promotion of healing – Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) promotes wound healing and is an essential nutrient in the maintenance of healthy bones, connective tissue and cartilage.

Fresher breath – Besides fresher breath, lemons have been known to help relieve tooth pain and gingivitis.

Boosts your immune system – High in vitamin C, lemons are great for fighting colds.

Aids digestion – The digestive qualities of lemon juice help to relieve symptoms of indigestion, such as heartburn, belching and bloating.

Cleanses your system – Lemons increase the rate of urination in the body. Toxins are then released at a faster rate which helps keep your urinary tract healthy.

Aids in weight loss – Lemons are high in pectin fiber which helps fight hunger cravings.

Tip: Juice a glass of lime or lemon juice and make ice cubes out of it. When you have a drink, pop a few lime/lemon cubes into your drink for a refreshing taste while enjoying its immense health benefits.

As we start off the New Year, that means we must adopt new habits to become a healthier version of ourselves. When we are healthy physically, it makes our everyday tasks more manageable; we’re more focused, we’re ill less often and have a better quality of living. While old habits can be hard to break, take some of these tips to start the journey of a healthier you for 2014.

Have a great first weekend of 2014!

Posted By: Julee Jonez  

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