Small habit changes can translate into big health benefits
1. The kitchen is closed at 7pm. It will reopen tomorrow!
Finish your dinner and eliminate snacks as well as sweetened (real or fake) beverages by 7pm, even earlier if that is available to you! Drink water (flat or fizzy) or herbal tea. Any food/drink you have after this time will be stored as FAT. Plus, we rarely make any healthy choices after 7!
2. Order matters! Eat your carbs later in the day and later on your plate
Even if you change nothing else, change the order of what you are eating! Start your day with a savory meal = healthy fat and protein. Have the carb at a later meal (but not after 7pm). Change the order at each meal. Eat some greens FIRST, protein and fat NEXT and starchy carbohydrates LAST. This will lower Ghrelin (your hunger hormone), keep you full longer and suppress your hunger hormone 2 hours after completing that meal.
3. Eat your food in a 12-hour eating window (or less if trying to lose body fat)
Eating your food (first bite or sip to last bite or sip) in a limited “eating window” has shown to increase longevity. A 12-hour eating window may not translate into weight loss but it will decrease your risk of heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. You will likely need a shorter window for weight loss. Start with a 7am to 7pm window and then over time break your fast (have your first meal of the day) a little later (especially if you are not hungry) and dinner earlier if you can.
4. Eat your larger meal of the day before 2pm, then have a light supper
Based on recent studies on circadian rhythms, the ideal time to have your bigger meal of the day is midday. Studies on menopausal overweight women showed the early eaters (those who ate a 700-calorie breakfast, 500 lunch, 200 dinner) lost more weight than the late eaters (those who ate a 200-calorie breakfast, 500 lunch, 200 dinner). Same number of calories but more weight loss!
5. Dress your carbs
It is best to eliminate snacks. However, when you do snack do not have a “naked” carb. Eating crackers, chips, even fruit alone will raise your blood sugar levels causing your insulin levels to increase! And remember, elevated insulin levels make you crave food AND store fat. “Dress” your carbs with a protein, fat and fiber to level off your sugar levels.
6. Eat more fermented foods
Probiotics (good bacteria) are all the rage today. We have 10x as many bacterial cells in our body than our own human cells (we are truly only 10% human). All the good bacteria help with digestive health, mental health, vaginal balance and more. Whereas the bad bacteria hinder digestion, leads to weight gain and poor mental health. You can get probiotics from eating fermented foods (such as plain Greek yogurt, sauerkraut, or tempeh). Humans have been eating fermented foods for centuries.
7. Take out the fake. Eliminate ultra-processed foods
Many foods are processed (even simple cooking is processing). However, ultra-processed (so-called) foods are highly palatable, addictive and cause us to overeat. Use the NOVA Food classification score (ranks foods from 1-4) with the Open Food Facts app. Ultra-processed foods have recently been linked to cancer and poor mental health, not to mention weight gain!
8. Move at least 30 minutes total for the day
Studies have shown that people who simply walk 30 minutes a day live longer than those who do not! Walk for 10 minutes after each meal and this will lower your blood glucose levels!
9. Get into bed between 10 and 11pm
A recent study has shown that those who go to bed between 10 and 11pm suffered less heart disease (even compared to people who went to bed earlier!). Going to bed before midnight gives you more restorative sleep even if you get the same 8 hours after midnight. Make sleep a priority. Start a wind down process 30 minutes before you get into bed.
10. Keep hydrated
Drink water!! Dehydration increases a hormone called vasopressin to stimulate thirst. As a survival hormone, vasopressin reduces water loss through the kidney but also increases the storage of fat to store water in your body when not available (or you choose not to drink water). Caffeine as well as alcohol cause dehydration. Beverages containing fructose (juice and those with high-fructose corn syrup) as well as artificial sweeteners all lead to dehydration and weight gain. Drink plain water!
Julianne M. Dunne, MD
westmed medical group 3030 Westchester Avenue Suite 202 Purchase, NY 10577 tel. (914) 848-8668