Well, I knew this week was pretty much a goner the moment I realised it was the school holidays. Finding time to exercise when there is one child at home is difficult enough. When there’s two, well, the only way to exercise is to carry them around and I don’t record that. The best thing I could do for the week was to watch my diet, so watch my diet I did. Well, sort of.
A friend of mine once said that the answer to weight loss is all about starvation. I don’t think he was too far off the truth because planning a weight loss program around your diet does require caloric deficits that may leave you feeling less than satiated after a meal. The only problem with that kind of weight loss plan after a pregnancy is that if you’re breastfeeding then you really have to be careful about restricting your caloric intake. In my case, I’m breastfeeding for one and half – half because the toddler nurses for the psychological benefits and will ask for cow’s milk when he’s really hungry or thirsty – so I really can’t diet in the sense of the word that most of us know it by.
Besides, I’ve always believed that if you’re planning to diet to lose weight then you need to make sure it is a dietary change that you can maintain for the rest of your life. You can’t diet to lose weight and then go back to your old eating habits and expect the weight to stay off. The reason why you have the weight to lose in the first place is because of your existing eating habits. Then again, the same might not be said for a post-partum Mum who’s been “eating for two” throughout the pregnancy and indulging like it’s her last day on Earth. I know some of us tend to take pregnancy as a “no-holds barred” excuse to load up on the calories since it’s the only time we have an excuse for a fat belly.
I digress… So what can you do with your post-partum diet without really restricting the calories? I recently came across a list of Top 10 Fat Burning Foods from Lady Thrills. I haven’t checked all the facts, but these are all pretty good foods to have in your diet anyway so it can’t hurt. Here’s the list with my annotations in italics:
1. Cayenne pepper
Cayenne pepper not only helps you burn more calories by triggering a thermodynamic burn that lasts hours after eating, it also enhances the way cholesterol is processed by the body.
But you can’t just depend on cayenne pepper alone; this spicy additive needs to be coupled with lean protein to work its magic because protein is necessary to process and transport fat throughout the body adequately.
Cayenne pepper makes you sweat and raises your heart rate, so your metabolism shoots up for a few hours after eating it.
Research conducted by the USDA has proven that as little as a ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon added to food helps your body to metabolize sugar 20 times faster and lower your body’s blood-sugar levels.
A known vasodilator, ginger expands the blood vessels, increases body heat and metabolism by 20%. Whether you consume it ground, fresh or in a tea (found in your local health food store), ginger is a fat-burning beauty.
I thought this was particularly interesting since ginger is one of the confinement foods consumed in abundance. Could this be part of the reason that facilitates women who go through the confinement practice to return to their pre-pregnant size?
4. Citrus fruit
Lemons, oranges, grapefruit, and limes are incredibly high in vitamin C, which has a fat-burning component. The C vitamin reduces fat’s effectiveness and can liquefy or dilute it so that it exits the body.
I’ve always had a hunch about this because there was a period in Australia when my parents were buying Navel oranges by the boxes and I was eating up to 10 oranges a day and losing weight for no reason I could fathom.
5. Apples & berries
Although all fresh fruit contain pectin, apples and berries have it in abundance. Pectin has a water-binding property and, when ingested, limits the amount of fat your cells absorb.
The watery buildup that results from pectin drowns out the fat from the cells and keeps your body from absorbing it. So pack on the apples and berries (do your best to go organic) and watch the pounds come off.
Packed with lecithin, this naturally occurring chemical in soybeans helps your body to keep your cells from accumulating fat.
Ingesting a handful of soybeans (find them at your local health food store) three to five times a week will boost your body’s ability to eliminate fat more quickly.
Does drinking soybean milk and consuming Taufu Fa count?
Found in milk and oranges as well, bananas contain potassium, a naturally occurring chemical that boosts your metabolism and regulates your body’s water balance.
Bananas contain approximately 450 milligrams of potassium (a cup of milk contains about 350 and oranges contain about 250), and you should aim to have about 2,000 milligrams per day, every day.
Essential fatty acids, or EFAs, should be a part of your dietary lifestyle. Women who consume fish regularly have lower levels of a protein hormone called leptin, which has been linked to a slower metabolism and obesity.
Do your best to eat fish three to five times a week. The best fish to reach for are wild salmon, tuna, herring, and mackerel.
It may leave your breath smelling somewhat undesirable, but garlic has many healing properties. Besides being a natural antibiotic, a bacteria destroyer and a blood sugar regulator, garlic also has the ability to speed up your fat-burning.
Garlic works like a thermogenic in your body, boosts your metabolism and keeps your insulin levels low to maximize fat burning. It’s stinky, but worth it.
If you’re Chinese, then garlic is like a daily staple. There isn’t a stir-fry dish that doesn’t require a little garlic. That said, you can also add a garlic supplement to your diet. It can also help stave off the colds…
10. Dairy products
The International Journal of Obesity published a study in April 2005 that concluded that calcium and protein that come from low-fat dairy products actually promote weight loss and help to maintain muscle mass.
Try to eat three servings of low-fat dairy products a day, which can come in the form of milk, cheese or yogurt. I guess milk really does do the body good.
One easy way to add most of these foods to your diet is to blend a fruit smoothie with a banana, yoghurt, milk, an orange, an apple and some berries. You can also try adding some cinnamon – I’m not sure how that would taste, but I might try that this week.