How are you doing with your minimalist (unprocessed, whole, real) food lifestyle?
In my experience, a diet means sudden, radical change. I'll be highly motivated for a while, and then I hit a plateau and get discouraged.
By using tiny habits, there are many more ways to be successful.
If I think in terms of tiny habits, my focus is different. Rather than worrying if I don't lose weight one week, I can look at my success in maintaining habits. I can easily meet and exceed my tiny goals, which means I'm always making progress. Continuing to make better and better food choices should be permanently sustainable, which means that over time I will see bigger changes.
It also means that I'm not measuring the success of the entire lifestyle solely by whether I lose weight, but also by improved health in many different ways due to the gradual accumulation of new, better habits. There are many more ways for me to be successful than just a number on a scale or a piece of clothing.
There are other facets of the minimalist whole food lifestyle I haven't written about yet, so today I want to bring up the question of what to drink.
Generally speaking, don't drink your calories.
This is an important idea that might challenge your thoughts about what is healthy.
Smoothies are a thing right now, and many people swear by them. But with multiple servings of fruit, not to mention juices, frozen yogurt, milk substitutes, and giant servings of nut butter added to many smoothies, they are sugar, fat, and calorie bombs. Even if kale, beets, or chia seeds are in the mix, the fiber of all ingredients is torn and crushed by blending, meaning that our bodies burn fewer calories digesting a smoothie than if we simply ate the unprocessed fruit or vegetables.
As an example, one smoothie by Odwalla has 270 calories (not enough to replace a meal) and a whopping 47 grams of sugar. With only 2 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein, those sugars are going to hit your system quickly and all at once. The insulin surge is going to help you store fat. And in spite of the fact that more than 2 oranges and a cup of blackberries were juiced (plus other fruits), the resulting product is "not a significant source of vitamin C." What a waste! And you'll still be hungry after you drink it.
Here are better hydration strategies:
- Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into 2 cups of cold or hot water and drink it first thing in the morning. Drinking lemon water after fasting all night stimulates your liver and helps it to detox. It provides vitamin C, freshens breath, improves skin quality, and promotes weight loss!
- Drink 2 cups of water before every meal. Dehydration is not only dangerous for all systems of your body, but it will stall weight loss.
- Observe Dry January. One beer, glass of wine, or cocktail is roughly 150 empty calories. Since alcohol is one of the biggest drivers of excess food intake, abstinence will also make you less inclined to overeat. It's a win-win situation for your diet.
- Drink several cups of green tea throughout the day to help boost your metabolism.
- Caffeine also boosts metabolism, so enjoy up to 2 cups of coffee or black tea per day. Just be sure to limit caffeine intake to morning hours so your sleep patterns won't be disturbed.
- Don't use sugar or sweeteners in your tea or coffee, but you can add a dash of cream if you like. The fat in cream helps stabilize blood sugar.
- Are you craving a slightly sweeter drink? Add a few drops of vanilla extract to your cup of coffee. Brew coffee or tea with cinnamon sticks. Add an orange wedge studded with whole cloves to your steeping tea.
- Caffeine may boost metabolism, but no amount of metabolic boost can burn off the empty calories in energy drinks. The typical energy drink contains 1/4 cup of sugar which will hit your system all at once, triggering an insulin response and fat storage.
- Treat soda and thirst quenchers such as Gatorade like they're candy, not a drink. Most sodas and candy have equal amounts of sugar.
- Don't substitute diet versions to get your fix either. Artificial sweeteners play havoc with the body's normal metabolic response, actually increasing appetite!
- Instead of fruit juice, which is high in sugar, drink water infused with fruit. Lemon, lime, orange, cucumber, or pineapple slices are all delicious. Mint and basil leaves will also make a refreshing tonic.
- Remember to allow yourself a "cheat" once a week. You never need to feel deprived, since nothing is permanently off limits. This is your chance to indulge in a tall Frappuccino or a glass or two of wine.
I'm not going to try to do all of these things at once, as this would be a huge change for me. My daily Starbucks and Diet Pepsi habits will gradually be replaced as I add new, healthier habits. Join me, won't you?