Maintaining a healthy weight can be real difficult in today’s busy society! Birthday celebrations, Friday night drinks and weekend social nights can be the most common culprits for your regular healthy eating habits going askew. A piece of cake there, a few wines here, a couple of late nights and takeaway McDonalds – it starts to really add up and then you’re left wondering why your fav pair of skinny jeans don’t fit no more?
In practice, I find that the biggest contributor to poor eating habits and weight gain is lack of food preparation for the week. Ensuring that your fridge and pantry are well stock with healthy food options and preparing food the night before is essential for setting up regular healthy eating habits and promoting healthy weight loss. Please note, this also involves removing the “sometimes foods” from the house such as Dairy Milk Chocolate, Twisties, Tim Tams etc. “If it’s not in the house, then you wont eat it!”
Here are ten foods that you can add to your grocery list to help fire up your metabolism:
1. Chia Seeds
If you have had a chia pudding before then you know what I’m talking about. These Aztec little seeds are an abundant source of essential fatty acids, fibre, protein and antioxidants. The fibre and protein keeps you feeling full, firing up you’re metabolism and switching on your fat- burning hormone called Glucagon.
Tip: Soak chia seeds in almond or coconut milk in a glass jar over night. In the morning, top them with blueberries, almonds and shredded coconut. Delish!
These little beauties have been shown to reduce blood sugar levels and help stimulate your metabolism. They are high in fibre – meaning they will help you feel fuller for longer, antioxidants and Vitamin C. A delicious snack to satisfy your sugar cravings and boost your nutrient intake for the day.
Tip: When shopping for strawberries choose the ones that are bright red and firm looking. Avoid those huge Strawberries that are the size of your hand (they have obviously been pumped full of hormones). Try to purchase organic if possible.
3. Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes have less carbohydrates than regular white potatoes, making them a perfect replacement for all those carbohydrate rich dishes such as mash potato, pasta and rice. They are high in fibre and vitamin A – an important nutrient required for a healthy immune system, reproduction, vision and skin health.
Tip: When cooking keep the skin on as both the skin and flesh contain antioxidants. Slice into wedges and bake with coconut oil and sea salt – you can totally still have hot chips and lose weight!
4. Beans and legumes
A recent study has found people who eat beans and legumes have smaller waistlines and better blood sugar and insulin regulation. This backs the nutrient profile of beans and legumes, as they are a great source of protein and fibre – both important for stabilizing your blood sugar levels and keeping you feeling full. Another study also found beans to lower cholesterol levels – this is due to the fibre content as fibre binds with cholesterol particles. Any excuse for baked beans on toast!
Tip: Add black beans or kidney beans to your Taco dishes for extra flavour, protein and fibre.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
Starting the day with Apple Cider Vinegar is a great way to stimulate your digestive system and kick your metabolism into gear! Acetic Acid is the main chemical component of Vinegar, responsible for its health benefits and sour taste. It has been found to help lower blood sugar levels, decrease insulin levels, help control appetite and reduce cravings. Is there anything Apple Cider Vinegar doesn’t do?
Tip: Have 1 tbs of ACV in warm water 15 minutes before meals to help ease digestive issues such as bloating, burping and reflux.
6. Mixed Nuts
Your probably thinking but don’t nuts have fat in them? Yes, they do, however, studies have shown that having small handful of nuts each day does not contribute to weight gain. In fact, consuming a small portion of nuts can actually assist with weight loss due to the protein and fibre content – making you feel satisfied. Plus, we need these beautiful sources of fats for the production of healthy hormones, energy and the absorption of vitamins. Mix up your own nuts – Cashews, Almonds, Brazil nuts, Pistachios, Macadamias to get a wider range of vitamins and minerals.
Tip: Portion control is the key! Don’t take a whole bag of nuts to work. Separate 1 handful into a container to prevent you from over eating.
7. Fermented Foods
Recent studies have shown that an unbalanced microflora in the gut is strongly linked with obesity. An overpopulation of bad bacteria in the digestive system has been shown to be a strong contributing factor for sugar cravings, thus can lead to weight gain. Another important reason to look after your gut health!
Tip: Try Sauerkraut, Kombucha, Miso soup, Tempeh, Unsweetened Yoghurt and Kefir to help increase the beneficial bacteria in your gut and say goodbye to sugar cravings!
8. Wild Salmon
Salmon contains Omega-3 Fatty Acids, which have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity – insulin is an important hormone needed for healthy weight loss. Salmon is a potent anti-inflammatory, a rich source of protein and an easy quick put together lunch – you can always have a can of Salmon stashed away in your office for a healthy, quick, cheap lunch.
Tip: Choose wild caught salmon as opposed to farmed. Farmed Salmon are often fed antibiotics, pesticides and hormones to speed up growth and size. The colour of Farmed salmon is actually GREY so they are fed pigmented pink pellets to obtain the same colour flesh as natural wild salmon. Yikes!
Curcumin in Turmeric is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties for reducing pain and inflammation but it also has a role in aiding weight loss. Curcumin helps control blood sugar levels, regulates insulin and leptin – which all have a role in reducing fat deposition and decreasing widespread inflammation.
Tip: To enhance the absorption of Turmeric make sure you have it with some black pepper and some sort of fat – Coconut Milk Curry. Hey Presto!
10. Green Tea
Green Tea contains a potent antioxidant called Epigallocatechin (EGCG), which, has been shown in studies to increase human metabolic rate and improve energy expenditure. It also contains the amino acid L-theanine and has been shown to help with mental focus and concentration – put the kettle on!
Tip: Swap your morning coffee for a green tea – it has less caffeine, more antioxidants and contains Polyphenols, which have been shown to increase Lactobacillus (a type of good bacteria) in the gut.
Please note: these foods need to be consumed as a part of a wholefood diet with exercise. Sorry, they wont make you look like Elle Macpherson after eating them.
Through naturally promoting weight loss, other areas of your health can also improve including: sleep, energy levels, digestion, healthy hair, skin and nails and your self – esteem. It is a holistic lifestyle change to enhance your overall health and wellbeing.
You can find these foods at your local health food store and supermarket – just make sure that the chocolate and chippies don’t make it into your trolley too.
Stephanie is a Naturopath and Nutritionist who has a special interest in female reproductive health, sports nutrition and digestive issues. She lives by the beautiful beaches of Bateau Bay.