Summertime is here and we all want that summer body to show off at the pool. Our friend Heidi Swan, a Certified Holistic Nutrition Practitioner, is sharing with us ways you could be unknowingly sabotaging your weight loss efforts.
1. Artificial Sugars
Yes, seeing “0 grams of sugar” or “No added sugar” on food packages is exciting, like woohoo I can enjoy my favorite snack without the haunt of all the sugar! BUT not so fast – be careful – these things sound nice when you’re dreaming of your summer body, but they’re actually doing more harm than good to your waistline.
When you start consuming a bunch of artificially sweetened foods you will naturally start craving more sweet food, so even though you’re eating foods with 0 grams of sugar – your body will start craving sugar more intensely! Artificial sugars are much sweeter than regular sugar. The more you reduce the amount of sugar in your diet, the more your body will eventually adapt and cravings will subside. So even if you’re sweet treats are zero calories they’re still promoting fat storage and insulin resistance.
Also important – even if you’re not adding Splenda and Sweet and Low to your drinks, you still can be eating a ton of artificial sugars unknowingly. Even healthy-looking foods like instant oatmeal contain sucralose (all the flavored Quaker oatmeals do). Reading food labels is the sure-fire way to know what you’re eating. The two most common artificial sweeteners used to be on the lookout for are sucralose (which is essentially just aspartame) and acesulfame potassium (or acesulfame K), so make sure and read labels and avoid products with these ingredients!
2. Not Managing Stress
Stress plays a huge role when it comes to weight loss. You might be thinking, “Yeah I stress eat every once in a while,” and yes stress eating is definitely a reason for weight gain! But the elevated levels of cortisol from chronic stress are also slowing down your metabolism, messing up your hormone levels, causing inflammation and insulin resistance! And you might have heard of the term “stress belly” – fat build up around your abs, definitely not what anyone wants in the summer!
A few great ideas to help manage stress are exercise (so important!), getting enough sleep, regular self-care routine (massage, meditation, yoga, etc.) and also eating a nutrient-dense diet your body can properly respond and bounce back from life’s stressors. At the time, you may think you don’t have time or money for a self-care routine, but in reality, you can’t afford not to!
3. Thinking salads are always healthy
The healthy salad myth! Time to get real here – your cobb or caesar salad might actually be one of the worst things on the menu – gasp! But think about it, they’re loaded with cheese, bacon, sometimes tortilla strips, croutons, ham, etc. You even have to watch out for this at healthy restaurants; for example, the Grilled Chicken Salad at True Foods Kitchen has 740 calories – while their Grilled Fish Tacos have only 530. Some of my tips to get salad savvy –
• Choose baked or grilled proteins over breaded or fried options. Grilled chicken and grilled shrimp are great options. If a salad comes with fried chicken or breaded shrimp – just say no! most restaurants will gladly swap it for a different option.
• Always ask for dressing on the side OR ask for ½ dressing so you aren’t even tempted to use full portion of dressing! What I like to do is ask for dressing on the side and instead of pouring it over the whole salad will dip each forkful in the dressing, I usually find that by doing this I only use 1/3-1/2 of the salad dressing.
• Hold the croutons – Yeah a little crunch is nice, but you can get that crunch with vegetables too! Croutons are adding empty carbs and calories to your “healthy” meal. Plus most croutons are made with white flour which is extremely drying to your skin and gunks up your digestive system.
• Vinaigrettes over cream-based dressings like ranch, thousand island and Russian. A serving of Thousand island dressing at a restaurant typically contains 200-280 calories, ouch! So, when you’re working out and you check your calorie burn and you hit 200, well congrats you just burned off your salad dressing!
About Heidi Swan
Heidi Swan is a Certified Holistic Nutrition Practitioner from the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts and NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist and Behavior Change Specialist. She focuses on educating clients how nutrition and digestion affects mental and physical health. Heidi moved to Phoenix after graduating with her business degree from University of Oregon and began working in the corporate world. Heidi always had a passion for nutrition and wellness, and after 4 years with lack of fulfillment from her office job, quit and began school at the Southwest Institute for Healing Arts to pursue her passion for helping people feel their best through nutrition and wellness.
Heidi is experienced in a wide range of nutritional services but has a special interest in the effects of nutrition and brain function, particularly anxiety and depression. Heidi believes that proper nutrition and digestion play an integrative role in mental wellbeing and is committed to helping her clients develop a unique nutrition plan and establish sustainable nutrition and lifestyle changes to meet their mental and physical needs. Heidi offers personalized meal plans, lifestyle changes, and support. Her services are also offered via Skype, for clients outside the metro Phoenix area.