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[whitespace] From Flab to Fab

Shedding pounds naturally by eating healthfully

By Sarah Martel

AND NOW for the anticlimax: the holiday frenzy is over, the rich holiday foods gobbled up, and very possibly you feel lousy. As the last few weeks may have made all too obvious, there's a vital link between what you eat and drink and how well you feel and look.

But cheer up. You can bounce back better than ever. Follow these small, easy steps and you'll soon see and feel a difference.

1. Activate your body's natural cleansing and healing mechanism.

Whole vegetables and fruit are 85 to 95 percent water. Since the body is 70 percent water, try increasing your intake of these foods. Whole, raw, juicy fruit--not a pasteurized fruit juice--and water-rich vegetables, along with six to eight glasses of pure water a day, deliver the nutrients you need to support the health of your body's 6 trillion cells.

2. Adopt a healthy morning routine.

Try to begin the day with 12 to 16 ounces of pure water, warm if you like, with the juice of 1/4 fresh lemon or a cup of fresh ginger tea. If only a java jolt will get you out of your stupor, try to postpone it until at least 10 a.m. Here's a breakfast for high energy and natural weight loss: a fruit salad with two juicy fruits, 1/2 a ripe banana, and 1/4 cup of raw sunflower seeds or almonds that have been soaked in water overnight. If you thrive on more protein in the morning, make a vegetable omelet using one or two egg whites and one yolk (from an organically fed free-range chicken, if possible) and chopped veggies.

If you prefer grains, try quinoa or millet for an easy-to-digest whole grain rich in absorbable nutrients, including proteins. Serve it with almond milk, fresh fruit, or a teaspoon of maple syrup. Refined cereals like Wheatena or Cream of Wheat just don't cut it. Amid all the eye-catching hoopla on boxed cold cereals you'll often see the words natural and grain, but read the fine print and you'll note that the main ingredients are refined grains (carbohydrates that quickly turn to sugar and soon have you craving even more sweets), sugar (in various disguises), and salt.

3. Replace processed foods with whole foods.

Refined foods require tremendous digestive energy and don't deliver the nutrients you need. Rely on the real stuff. For example: corn on the cob rather than corn chips; an apple instead of applesauce; brown rice in place of white rice; a baked potato instead of fries; an orange rather than orange juice.

4. Eat lighter and earlier in the evening.

Since digestion takes more energy than any other body activity, you don't want to make it work so hard while you sleep. Ideally, you should have completed digestion of the day's foods by the time you hit the sack, so that energy can be freed up for healing and recuperating. A light evening meal could be a large salad with dressing you love (but not a cheesy one) and a bowl of vegetable or lentil soup; or a pot of steamed vegetables, including leafy greens and a starchy vegetable such as yams or winter squash, and a salad; or vegetable mu-shu or a vegetable stir-fry with brown rice; or a tostada (Mexican-style tortilla) topped with beans and rice, steamed veggies, and shredded lettuce and tomato--without the sour cream or cheese (guacamole is fine).

Above all, don't think you have to go on a stringent diet to shed those pounds. If denied calories, the body, anticipating famine, starts to store fat and slow down your metabolism, making the problem worse. You don't even have to deprive yourself of rich or refined foods. Trouble is, you probably don't stop after just a taste. But, after all, does a big slice of rich cake taste any better than a small slice slowly savored?

The simple steps suggested here really work. They'll help you achieve moderation, regain and maintain your vitality, and encourage natural weight loss without effort. Follow them and your body--and your mirror--will thank you.

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From the January 11-17, 2001 issue of the Northern California Bohemian.

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