Weight loss journeys always start with a decision. That moment of clarity when you declare that enough is enough, something needs to be done about it!
However, anyone who’s ever tried to lose weight knows that making the decision is not enough. Yes, it’s essential to be determined and motivated, but then action is required. You need to change your diet and other lifestyle habits.
Since I lost over 40 pounds of fat lots of people have been asking me what I ate and how they can follow my diet in order to replicate the results. So here are the main few changes I implemented in my diet:
1. I gradually increased my raw food intake
I remember when I first stumbled upon the raw food diet while doing the research back in 2010. At first, it sounded absolutely crazy to me! I’m not going to eat that rabbit food, I thought to myself back then.
Eating mainly fruits and vegetables sounded way too extreme to me. Although the more research I did, the more convinced I was about the benefits.
But truly it was only when I discovered the amazingly delicious raw food recipes that I became convinced. My mind was blown. Cookies, cakes, mouth-watering salad dressings, soups, pasta, pizza! I discovered that all these foods could be made raw! Of course, they looked and tasted somewhat different from the originals but in many cases even better! I was hooked.
I didn’t go 100% raw straight away, I just started trying different recipes and raw food approaches. I tried gourmet raw, low fat high carb raw (aka 80/10/10), low glycemic raw diet, etc.
Now I eat a plant based diet which is high in raw fruits and vegetables (70-90%), but I also incorporate cooked food into my diet. I love beans, chickpeas, organic tofu, steamed veggies, brown rice, quinoa and buckwheat.
I’m only human so sometimes I eat some less healthy food when I go out or I’m on holiday. But my diet always remains plant-based and I try to avoid refined sugar, and anything processed, as much as possible.
Once you get used to it, it becomes second nature. I no longer consider processed junk as food. It’s just not appealing to me anymore.
2. I gave up animal products
I grew up eating meat and dairy with every single meal! Yogurt with berries or sandwiches with cheese and butter for breakfast, a meat and potato dish for both lunch and dinner. I took it as normal and didn’t question why we, humans, eat other beings and drink their milk.
In my teenage years, when I started struggling with weight, I questioned which foods would make me skinny and which ones would make me fat. But it never occurred to me that perhaps I should stop eating animals. As with most people, I just accepted that this is how humans eat.
Studying nutrition and then conducting thorough independent research about animal consumption led me to a clear conclusion that these foods are not good for my health.
After learning how animal products affect our health, plus the horrible practices of our meat and dairy industries, I could no longer justify to myself eating these foods.
3. I started drinking green vegetable juice and green smoothies every morning
Green leafy vegetables are excellent for your health. They provide your body with much needed vitamins, alkaline minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, chlorophyll and other compounds that are essential for good health.
You may not want to eat salad for all your meals, especially if time is of concern, for example in the morning. So having a green smoothie and/or a green juice for breakfast is a great way to start your day.
Having enough greens in your diet is absolutely vital for maintaining a healthy weight. If I stop having my green veggie juice (e.g. if I’m travelling), I start craving foods that are not the best for me: bread, muffins, chocolate and fried food. So I do everything I can to maintain my daily green juice habit.
4. I ditched processed junk food
Don’t count calories, count the toxins! This one is pretty self-explanatory but most people still miss it. They often fall into a trap of believing that if something says “natural” or implies being healthy on the label, it must be good for you. This is not always true!
Years ago, when I first started on my journey to health, I thought that one should always read the ingredient list at the back of your food. Now I think differently. I mainly buy foods that don’t even have an ingredient list! Which is simple whole foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds. And then I prepare everything from scratch.
5. I reduced refined sugar and oil consumption
Everyone talks about the adverse effects of sugar on one’s health; and some even claim that natural sugar occurring in fruit and some vegetables is bad for us. But we must understand that not all sugar is the same.
Natural sugar occurring in fruit is one of the best sources of energy since all our cells, including our energy-expensive brains, run on sugar.
Fruit contains fibre which slows down sugar absorption into the bloodstream, without causing blood sugar spikes, as refined sugar (or any other concentrated sweetener like honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, etc.) would do. Therefore I stay away from the sweeteners most of the time, only leaving some wiggle room for special occasions like birthdays, dinner parties, etc.
I also try to stay away from oil. The problem with oil is that, just like refined sugar, it is way too concentrated. It’s pure fat that you would not find in nature (in nature, e.g. nuts, seeds of fatty fruit, it would come in combination with protein, carbohydrates, fibre, etc.). When we consume too much concentrated fat, there are too many lipids (fat) flowing in the bloodstream. Therefore, the glucose in our diet cannot be transmitted to the cells efficiently, and thus too much sugar (glucose) accumulates in the blood. In response the pancreas releases even more insulin, which then leads to a drop in blood sugar.
These imbalances, spikes and surges may cause you to have low energy, cravings for sugary food and drinks, and mood swings. Also, in the long term, they may cause insulin resistance which leads to type-2 diabetes.
So it’s best to avoid concentrated anything: whether it’s refined sugar or refined fat (aka oil or butter) or protein powders. Nature makes no mistakes, and there’s a reason why fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds and beans are packed with fiber, and why protein powder doesn’t grow on trees.
So this is my story, and my summary of the main things that worked for me on my journey to health and a fit, slim body. However, eating is only one side of the story, you also needs to address your mindset, since there are always underlying subconscious reasons why your body tends to hold onto excess weight.