by Dr. Natasha Turner ND
Whether it’s the first day of your diet or just an overall promise to live a healthier lifestyle, it likely involves putting a few items onto a mental do-not-touch list. We all know, however, that the more something is restricted the more you actually want it. The good news is that there are many seemingly unhealthy things that can make a periodic appearance without throwing off your results – in fact, they may just be good for you (in moderation).
Two coffee breaks a day: The latest research is touting the benefits of caffeine for everything from mood to diabetes to fat burning and beyond. Now, two cups a day promises to keep depression away according to a study from Harvard. Opt for an organic coffee with cream and cinnamon. Lastly, you should consume it before noon to avoid sleep disruptions. If you notice you start waking up between 2 to 4 A.M. or have more cravings, then stick to either one cup a day OR being coffee-free.
Dairy does it better: If you haven’t jumped on the Greek Yogurt bandwagon, few items in your fridge will be more satisfying all the while slimming your waistline. Researchers at McMaster University found that participants who consumed a high protein, high dairy diet while engaging in a strength training program experienced greater whole body weight loss – particularly in the stubborn abdominal area. A diet rich in dairy calcium has also been shown to enhance weight reduction in type 2 diabetic patients and can give you the edge up when on a calorie-restricted diet. The secret is to select high protein, lower-fat organic sources, and of course, if dairy sends your digestion on a rollercoaster ride it is better left untouched. Not sure if dairy is the best for you? Try whey protein that is lactose free like Dream Protein – cold filtered, glutamate free, hormone free, and the best tasting whey I have found yet. I love it mixed with Marine Collagen before my workouts!
Cheating on your diet: Regardless of the make-up of your diet, a zero-tolerance policy rarely leads to long term success. From a physiological standpoint, a weekly or bi-weekly cheat meal serves to boost your thyroid hormone and lower levels of Reverse T3 that naturally increases with dieting (this hormone can block the action the active thyroid hormone that influences metabolism). Remember that when we reduce calories overall, our body adapts by lowering our metabolism as a survival mechanism. Having a cheat meal keeps our metabolism going and actually increases our long-term success. A few simple rules to prevent it from resembling, well, a train that has gone off the tracks: first, you must earn your cheat meal by staying on course throughout the week. Second, if your weight is up 3-4 days later, you have overdone it or included items that don’t agree with your chemistry – as it may trigger water retention related to blood sugar imbalance (too many carbs!) or inflammation (food-sensitivities!). Choose to avoid sugar, gluten, dairy, if needed – the trick is simply to eat more calories. Lastly have it as the last meal of the day versus the first to prevent you from nibbling from morning to night.
Satisfying those chocolate cravings: Believe it or not, a square or two of dark chocolate can help to reduce blood pressure. Researchers reviewed evidence from short-term trials in which participants were given dark chocolate or cocoa powder daily and found that their blood pressure dropped when compared to a control group. The cocoa inhibits an enzyme in the body that is known to raise blood pressure. Other studies have shown that cocoa has a protective effect against cardiovascular diseases. Have the urge to splurge? Chop up a square of dark chocolate and mix it with your Greek yogurt, along with a handful of berries and some slivered almonds. Select 70% dark chocolate or higher for best results – and if you are pregnant – make sure you eat chocolate daily as it is proven to deliver happier, less-stressed babies.
Reaching for Sugar alternatives: If you are steering clear of sugar, but still have that nagging sweet tooth you don’t have to deny yourself forever. Whereas those pink, blue and yellow packets may be more toxic than sugar itself, other sweeteners such as xylitol can help you shed the pounds while improving your health. On the glycemic index (which measures the impact on blood sugar) xylitol is low on the totem pole at 7, whereas honey is 62, and glucose is 100 – and it looks, tastes and even bakes like sugar. As the antithesis to sugar, it can actually help prevent tooth decay by keeping a neutral pH level in the mouth preventing bacteria from sticking to the teeth. You can also try stevia and/or coconut sweetener.
To eat red meat to not to eat red meat: During a detox I always recommend that my patients remove red meat as it can be inflammatory for some individuals. That’s not to say, however, that it can never return to your plate. Very recently, red meat consumption has been associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease (yes, you read that correctly). This protein source also packs a powerful fatty acid that been linked to long-term weight management – conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA. Previous studies have shown that CLA reduces body fat while preserving muscle tissue, and may also boost your metabolism. It’s best to remove it during your two week detox and reintroduce it in week three (as we guide patients to do so in the Clear Medicine 5-Week Wellness Program). If you continue to remain free of bloating, indigestion, constipation, joint pain or inflammation – you get given the green light then but be sure to stick to organic, grass-fed beef.