Skip to content

To diet or not to diet: That's the billion dollar question

Tackling the 'lose weight' resolution
Stock image

January is here. This is the traditional time that we face the decadence of the holidays and swear we’re going to get healthier. Advertisements for diet supplements, the latest fitness fads and secret fat burning foods have already started. Canadians spend millions (see National Post Article) on nutritional supplements each year. Add to this the money we spend for personal trainers, diet books and fitness equipment, etc. and this is a billion dollar industry.

What if you learned and believed that all you needed to find a healthier you was already at your finger tips?  What if finding that new vitality was about you consistently applying a common sense system?

As my grampa used to say, common sense is not that common.

The simple truth, my friends, is that you are what you eat. You don’t need to cut out whole food groups or join a harsh cleanse. You just need to acknowledge the common sense of that statement. In approximately seven years, your whole body will be completely renewed. Some parts renew daily and some parts take a lot longer. But if you can read this, what you were born with is long gone. What is here now is a direct result of your diet choices.

At this point, I usually am overwhelmed by dismay at the chocolate, alcohol and rich foods that call to me.  How can you deny yourself those wonderful indulgences?

You don’t absolutely have to cut out your favourite treats. That might even be counter-productive (Diets that fail). Resolve to commit to health for the rest of your life, not just until your vacation. Little adjustments, refined over the years but applied consistently is the secret.

Here are a couple suggestions to add health to your life. By investing in high quality nutrition, you virtually “bank” resources that help you insulate from the effects of those occasional treats.

1. Try a smoothie for breakfast. If weight loss is part of your health motivation, watch the calorie content. Adding a ton of tropical fruit (higher in sugars) and yogurt can create a beverage of almost 1000 calories! This recipe focuses on greens and lower sugar fruits. It also has tons of fibre, protein and healthy fats.

1 T ground flax seed
1 T hemp seed
6 raw almonds
1 cup chopped/frozen kale or other greens
½ cup sprouts (alfalfa, broccoli, whatever)
2” piece of unpeeled carrot
2” chunk of raw, unpeeled beet
½ cup frozen berries (fresh is fine too)
½ peeled orange/Clementine or 1/4 cup raw pineapple
1” piece raw turmeric root (powdered supplement is fine too)
A quarter sized piece of raw ginger
1/8 tsp black pepper (fresh ground is best)
One scoop unsweetened, quality protein powder (hemp is great)
¼ cup kefir
And filtered water (tap water contains chlorine that may kill healthy bacteria in the smoothie) to create consistency of your choice

Blend all ingredients in a high powered machine, like a VitaMix or Ninja until smooth. Makes 2 10-oz servings.

2. Look at your daily calories like a budget. Depending on our age, fitness level, etc. most of us have around 1,500 – 2,300 calories per day to utilize. Eat more and it will be stored as fat. Heavy exercise does give us more room for calories but the calorie burn reported on electronic gadgets is notoriously inaccurate. Our bodies are actually pretty efficient and can hoard calories if exercise is consistent. To be healthy, we need each day:

  • 5 or more servings of vegetables 
  • ¾ gram of protein for each pound of body weight
  • 30 grams of fibre 

A calorie counting “app” like Lose It or just “googling” what you are eating is one way to work the “budget”. After watching carefully for a week or so exactly where you are spending your calories, you can tweak the “budget” toward healthier food investment. My experience has been that when I eat all the healthy food we need first, my food cravings diminish significantly. I’m too full!

3. Cook your own food. Commercially prepared foods, whether consumed in a restaurant, from take out or sold through the grocery store contain ingredients that have been added with profit motivation in mind, not your health. Preservatives, added sugar, processed fats and salt all contribute to food imbalances. Labelling is notoriously misleading.

Happy New Year!