Healthy weight is just one part of an overall healthy lifestyle. The conclusion of all the research conducted by so many respected organizations is that people are overweight because not only do they intake more calories than they burn, but overweight people also tend to eat too many rich foods high in fat and sugar and devoid of nutritional value. I'll bet this sounds familiar. The most surefire way to lose weight is the one that people in our immediate-gratification society hate most to hear: eat less and exercise more.
Eat less and exercise more. Sounds simple, doesn't it? We won't discuss an exercise routine here, but please remember to discuss plans with a doctor before undertaking any exercise program. What we should know, however, is that the dictate to "eat less" doesn't have to be synonymous with "starve" or "feel deprived."
The dieter's rule of "eat less" should really be rephrased to "eat more fruits and vegetables!" Mostly composed of fiber and water, fruits and vegetables help us feel full while keeping our digestive system flowing smoothly and working efficiently. Packed with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, fruits and vegetables give you a nutritional bang in each bite. And according to the Mayo Clinic, dieters can eat virtually unlimited amounts fruits and vegetables and still achieve their weight-loss and maintenance goals.
Healthy bodies need protein to build muscles, carbohydrates for energy, and vitamins, minerals and nutrients for good health. Beware of radical diet programs offering weight loss through elimination of one of these fundamental food groups.
Some low-carb diets are often high in artery-clogging saturated fat, and since some of them advocate reducing your fruit and vegetable intake, you lose many nutrients essential to health. Robbing your body of its fuel source of carbohydrates forces it to mine other body tissues for energy. While this may result in a temporary weight loss, the pounds often return upon reverting to normal eating habits.
However, you should choose carbohydrate sources carefully. Packaged rice and noodle mixes not only cost more than the ingredients themselves, but also include more sodium, artificial preservatives, and saturated fat than we might want. That slice of white bread won't provide half of the nutrition we receive from a slice of whole grain bread. Whole grain breads and cereals include both the fibrous outer bran layer and the nutrient-rich inner core containing vitamins E and B6 and folate. Whole grains also offer soluble fiber that remove bile acids from your intestines.
In a similar vein, a no-fat diet cripples the body in its attempts to cushion joints, insulate nerves, and pad organs. A government review of diet research released in 2001 found that moderate-fat programs are the healthiest for dieters and a proven way to keep pounds off. Of course, not all fats are the same and healthy eaters try to eliminate saturated fats like those found in many commercially-prepared foods. Good sources of fat include avocados, olives, nuts, and seeds and their oils, and fish. Red meat should be well-trimmed to reduce the fat concentration, and leaner meats such as poultry or fish should be substituted more often.
Adherents of food combining believe that the complete digestion experienced by eating proteins and carbohydrates separately encourages clean and efficient excretion of excess calories. According to the theory, allowing the body's natural enzymes to function properly breaks down the acids and bases of foods more completely, allowing fuller assimilation of nutrients as the food travels through the intestines. Not only is this believed to be healthier, but it also enables the intestines to separate out excess matter more easily and move it on through, as they say. Since excess matter is stored as fat, dieters hoping for weight loss may see a benefit by practicing food combining at times. Even eating only one meal a week of either starch and vegetables or protein and vegetables may make a difference in how you look and feel.
Since a healthy body seeks its own equilibrium of weight, the most beneficial diet you can feed your body is the one that supplies all of the elements essential for cellular functions. These elements are easy to find in whole, unprocessed foods: grains, produce, nuts and seeds, and lean meats. Stick to whole foods and balanced meals, try to get some exercise, and your weight will fall into place the way you really want it to: slowly, gradually, safely, and permanently.
Here’s a great, balanced meal of whole foods in an easy to prepare one-pot meal.
Divinely Rosemary Chicken with Quinoa
3/4 cup quinoa
1 cup water or broth
1/4 onion, 1" slices, separated
2 pieces chicken, boned or de-boned, fresh or frozen solid
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 small yellow summer squash, sliced
1 cup broccoli, cut into florets
3-4 mushrooms, sliced thickly
2 sprigs rosemary
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray inside of 2-quart cast iron Dutch oven and lid with olive or canola oil.
Rinse quinoa in a strainer and place in pot with water. Smooth out the layer and add onion strips.
Rinse the chicken and place the pieces in the pot. Salt and pepper to taste. Create a layer of squash, lightly season with salt and pepper, and drop broccoli in on top. Arrange mushroom slices and tuck rosemary sprigs into crevices between the foods. Sprinkle lightly with the final salt and pepper.
Cover and bake for 45 minutes. Do not lift the lid before you smell the aroma of a fully-cooked meal escape the oven, and then wait three more minutes before opening the Dutch oven.
Don't forget to remove the rosemary sprigs before eating!
This recipe will work in both an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven and one of raw, uncoated cast iron.
Be sure your conventional oven is correctly adjusted and is fully pre-heated to 450 degrees F before putting the meal inside.
Pronounced “keen-wa”, quinoa is one of the only grains that is a complete protein. The staple grain of the Incans, it has a unique, appealing texture. Find it near the rice in your grocery store.
About the author: Elizabeth Yarnell is a Certified Nutritional Consultant and the author of Glorious One-Pot Meals: A new quick & healthy approach to Dutch oven cooking, a guide to a guide to preparing quick, healthy and balanced one-pot meals. Visit Elizabeth online at www.GloriousOnePotMeals.com. The Glorious One-Pot Meal cooking method is unique and holds US patent 6,846,504.