In a perfect world (or a perfect week), your habits would lend themselves to a hormonally balanced body all the time, however sometimes setting a goal of 80 to 90 percent is more accessible and realistic. Here are nine essential habits you should do daily, regardless of how busy your schedule becomes.
1. I avoid artificial sweeteners
The low calories aren’t worth the high consequences: in fact, as the consummate wolf in sheep’s clothing these sugar-substitutes can pack on more pounds than the real thing.
Researchers found that consuming sucralose before a glucose test (with a sugary drink) was associated with higher blood sugar peaks and 20 percent higher insulin levels compared with participants that consumed water before drinking the glucose beverage.
Bottom line: Stick to stevia and xylitol for your sweet tooth.
2. I floss my teeth daily and maintain great oral hygiene
Now this isn’t just an old fashioned good habit, practicing oral hygiene can improve your weight loss efforts.
A review in the journal Obesity Reviews found a positive association between body composition and periodontitis (gum disease). This means that those with higher body fat levels were more likely to have periodontitis – it has everything to do with inflammation.
Bottom line: Keep a toothbrush and fluoride-free toothpaste at work, brush after all meals and floss twice daily.
3. I keep a daily food journal
Accountability provides an effective babysitter when it comes to your daily actions, even if you are the only one looking at it. A researcher from a 2008 study says that people keeping a food diary six days a week lost twice as much weight as those who kept food records one day a week or less.
Bottom line: I recommend buying a small notebook that you can easily fit in your bag or purse, and recording your wellness habits (the good, bad and ugly) on a day to day basis. Jot down the following: food, drink and supplements (including timing), sleep habits (duration and quality), weight and measurements (weekly), exercise and relaxation habits.
4. I limit alcohol to no more than three glasses of wine (ideally red) weekly
Just like the artificial sweetener, alcohol seems more innocuous than it really is. Within five minutes of having a drink, there’s enough alcohol in your bloodstream to measure – so you can imagine how fast the impact is on your blood sugar and insulin levels. In fact, binge drinking leads a path towards insulin resistance according to scientists at Diabetes Obesity and Metabolism Institute – and the metabolic consequences are long lasting.
Bottom line: Keep it to a minimum and enjoy with food to slow down absorption. When in doubt, go for red.
5. I eat protein at every meal, the size and width of my palm
If hormones are the driving force behind your appetite control or desire to eat, protein is a seasoned driving instructor. Consumption of protein causes the release of PYY (the hormone that tells your body you’re full), so eating protein regularly throughout the day will keep your cravings under control and your desire to overeat in check.
6. I eat one to two servings of raw nuts, nut butters and/or seeds daily
A review of 31 studies on nut consumption found that those who added nuts to their diets lost more weight and reduced their waist size. Even though they are calorie dense, they are just as high on the satiety scale making them the perfect adjunct to a meal with protein and veggies or a fat source in a smoothie.
7. I consume one tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil daily
Besides helping us lose weight, balance our hormones, reduce inflammation and keep insulin under control, olive oil also breaks down the fat cells we already have according to a study in the British Journal of Nutrition. It’s important to note that a diet high in polyunsaturated soybean oil had the opposite effect.
8. I eat at the same times daily (8 a.m., noon, 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.)
Your body likes routine, and this predictability has the added benefit of keeping blood sugar levels steady and preventing a late-day binge. Researchers have been testing this theory for decades. A study from 1968 manipulated “dinner time” for 22 obese and 24 healthy-weight individuals to determine whether eating behaviour changed when standard mealtimes were altered. They found that the obese group ate more when they thought they were eating after their regular dinner hour than they did when they thought that they were eating before.
Erratic eating schedules, regardless of frequency, are also associated with a reduced thermic effect (how many calories it takes to digest and process the meal) so less calories are burned overall.
9. I drink eight or more glasses of reverse-osmosis water daily
Researchers from Germany reviewed evidence from 11 studies that investigated the link between water intake and body weight. Water drinkers appear to shed the pounds faster than their less hydrated counterparts. However, hydration has a myriad of benefits from keeping your digestion moving along to preventing wrinkles and dry skin.
Follow the jump for more on healthy daily habits from Natasha Turner including a sample schedule.
Natasha Turner, N.D. is a naturopathic doctor, Chatelaine magazine columnist, and author of the bestselling books The Hormone Diet and The Supercharged Hormone Diet. Her newest release, The Carb Sensitivity Program, is now available across Canada. She’s also the founder of the Toronto-based Clear Medicine Wellness Boutique and a regular guest on The Dr. Oz Show. For more wellness advice from Natasha Turner, click here.