Prepared by: Ashleigh Grange, R.H.N., BA, CNE | AshleighGrange.com
Most nutrition pros know that there’s no magic pill for natural weight loss. Counting calories or severely restricting your diet until you reach your target weight? That doesn’t sound like fun—and it’s probably not sustainable. The truth is, this approach to dieting is too time-consuming and stressful for most people on a long-term basis.
So what if I told you that just paying attention to where you buy your food from in the grocery store can dramatically affect your weight and waist size?
If one of your goals this year is to lose weight naturally, you might be surprised to discover that shopping the perimeter of your local grocery store might be the best and easiest thing you could do to achieve your ideal weight. Shopping the perimeter of most grocery stores can actually offer a diversity of healthy foods to help you achieve and maintain your healthiest weight.
Healthy foods that support natural weight loss include fruits and vegetables, healthy vegetarian and/or animal-based protein, nuts, seeds, healthy fats and oils … most of which are usually located around the edges of the grocery store!
These healthy foods are top-quality whole and preferably organic foods that have usually undergone as little processing as possible. Real, whole foods are key to natural weight loss because they contain impressive amounts of fibre, high-quality protein, complex carbohydrates, natural fats, and other nutrients our bodies rely on to provide fuel, consume fuel and shed weight naturally. These foods can help us boost our metabolism, provide consistent energy, curb cravings, stabilize our moods, and feel full to help prevent excessive snacking and/or binge eating. Most importantly, they are less likely to increase overall inflammation in our bodies.
Why does inflammation matter? Well, it greatly affects our ability to lose weight in every way. Our body’s inflammation level affects our ability to digest food, absorb and utilize nutrients effectively, generate and burn energy, build muscle, repair tissues, and ward off acute and chronic disease, all of which are involved in helping us maintain a healthy weight. Inflammation also affects how sensitive our cells are to insulin, the primary hormone responsible for blood sugar regulation and the hormone that converts excess sugar into storage fat.
So let’s shine the spotlight on these nutrient-dense food sources, most of which are located in or around the perimeter of your local, well-stocked grocery store.
First on your plate, nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables. They don’t come with a label that says 100% natural (and you should be wary of food that does), but from the farmer’s field to your dinner table, fruits and vegetables are certainly natural and wholesome. Located on the immediate right or left side when you walk into most grocery stores, fruits and veggies are low in calories and high in antioxidants and phytonutrients, which help reduce inflammation, fight off disease and offer natural weight loss benefits. Vegetables in particular should fill a large portion of your plate. While many fruits are higher in calories and natural sugars and should therefore be enjoyed in moderation, vegetables are so low in calories that you can eat and eat them—with little impact on your waistline. They contain large amounts of fibre to keep you feeling full. Since I love to eat, this makes nearly all vegetables superfoods in my book!
Next, healthy protein sources found in refrigerated sections around the grocery store such as fatty fish (e.g. salmon), lean, organic and preferably grass-fed or pastured meats, full-fat dairy (if you consume it), and vegetarian sources from organic soy (e.g. fermented tempeh and/or unfermented tofu) are essential for natural weight loss. Eggs are another rich and cheap source of easily digestible protein at about 6 g per egg. Beans and legumes also provide vegetarian protein and although they’re not often found around the perimeter of the supermarket, they’re certainly worth seeking out! When digested, protein has little to no effect on our blood sugar so it doesn’t cause it to surge, which helps us maintain stable and balanced blood sugar levels. Balanced blood sugar levels in turn improve our ability to lose weight naturally.
Raw and preferably organic nuts and seeds – often found in the bulk sections of grocery stores–offer a high-quality source of healthy, satiating fat. They are abundant in healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are essential for both natural weight loss and overall health. Although gram per gram fat is higher in calories than either carbohydrates or protein, healthy fats like these types help us feel fuller, for longer. Most nuts, seeds and even avocados, not technically a nut or seed but they do have a similar makeup, are a special favourite of mine for weight loss. Of course portion control and moderation are key to ensuring these “fatty” foods remain fat-fighters!
Beyond all of these healthy foods found around the perimeter of your local supermarket, there are a few exceptionally healthy foods worthy of a place on your plate if one of your goals is natural weight loss. Cinnamon has been researched for its ability to improve our cells’ sensitivity to insulin as well as slow the rate at which our stomach empties of food, both of which help keep us satiated and our blood sugar levels balanced.
Unrefined olive oil and coconut oil are two superstars in the fats and oils section. Coconut oil in particular has all the makings of an ideal weight loss food. It has gained media attention in this area—and for good reason: coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), a type of fat the liver can quickly metabolize from the gastrointestinal tract. MCTs have a “thermogenic” quality, so they require more energy to digest than other types of fats, leading to improved blood sugar balance, reduced food cravings, and increased energy production and caloric burning. All of this supports natural weight loss! When you’re shopping, look for organic and unrefined coconut oil.
Last but not least, water is a key element in any natural weight loss diet. Not only does it act as an appetite suppressant, but it also helps keep our organs and cells hydrated, enabling our body to function optimally, remove waste products and boost metabolism. Consider this: even mild dehydration can slow down our metabolism, so drink up!
So remember, next time you’re at the grocery store, make a commitment to mostly shop the perimeter for a variety of nutrient-dense foods that will help support your natural weight loss goals and enable you to enjoy a healthier, more wholesome lifestyle.
-Posted January 2015-