Chef AJ is a chef and culinary instructor, the host of the television series ‘Healthy Living with CHEF AJ,’ and the author of the popular book ‘Unprocessed: How to Achieve Vibrant Health and Your Ideal Weight.’ Chef AJ has devoted the better part of her life to researching the “how-to’s” of health and happiness, and below are her top 5 tips for achieving a synergistic blend of both.
Step #1 Lose Weight With Just One Simple Dietary Tweak
If you want to lose weight, protect your arterial lining, enhance your overall health and save money, the simplest and most effective thing you can do is eliminate oil from your diet. Oils are 40 times more calorie dense than fruits and vegetables and there is a whopping 4000 calories in just one cup of oil (120 calories per tbsp.). Humans actually don’t even like oil in and of itself (try drinking it straight-up, and you’ll gag); it’s the dopamine boost that it causes in your brain that keeps you hooked on it. Plus, despite popular belief, you actually don’t need oil to cook, bake or sauté anything. In fact, your food will actually taste better without it because the oil coats your taste buds, which dulls the flavors from the other ingredients.
Step #2 Get a Daily Dopamine Boost Without Food
Dopamine is the chemical in your brain that is responsible for feelings of pleasure, motivation, lust, and euphoria. It plays a major role in addiction and it fuels your desire to eat unhealthy because it’s boosted when you consume sugar, fat and junk food. Fortunately, you can boost your dopamine levels in a healthy and natural way, without food or drugs. Sex and exercise are two major dopamine boosters. Kissing, cuddling, playing with animals, volunteering, helping out others, working towards and obtaining goals, or simply doing a good dead (no matter how big or small) are all also great ways to boost your dopamine levels naturally. Seek out at least one activity daily that will boost your dopamine, and not only will your overall sense of wellbeing increase, you’ll also find it easier to eat healthy and lose weight.
Step #3 Stick to and Enjoy an Exercise Regime
If you currently don’t exercise at all, or have trouble sticking with a regime, start with anything at all that you enjoy. If you think that there are no physical activities that you would like, than start with the thing you dislike the least. Even if it’s simply yin yoga, which involves very limited movement and physical effort, you will still benefit greatly. Simply following through with showing up regularly, will boost your self-esteem and dopamine levels. As you stick with it, you’ll notice improvements, which will boost your dopamine even further and those feel good chemicals will motivate you to stick with your regime and perhaps even branch out and try new forms of fitness. Overtime you’ll start to love exercise because of the euphoric effect it has on your brain and when it doesn’t feel like a chore, sticking with it becomes a no-brainer.
Step #4 Consume Fruit in a Healthy Way
There is a lot of controversy about whether fruit is healthy or not because it contains a lot of sugar. However consuming sugar from fruit is way different than consuming sugary processed foods, because fruit contains fiber, water, vitamins and minerals – which negate the effects of the sugar. That being said, it is possible to overdo it, and you should limit your intake to a few servings per day. Also, make sure you consume fruit in its whole form; fresh or frozen or in a smoothie are all good options but juices and dried fruits should be limited or avoided. Try to vary your fruit choices so you’re not eating the same thing every day, and when you consume sweeter fruits such as pineapples and bananas, consume them guilt-free as a dessert. If you’re diabetic or have high triglycerides, don’t consume fruit by itself; mix it with fiber or protein to lessen the effects on your blood sugar.
Step #5 Consume a Plant-Based Diet
Vastly reduce or eliminate your intake of animal products and you’ll feel better mentally, emotionally and physically. Don’t worry about your protein intake, the idea that a plant-based diet can lead to a protein deficiency is a myth fueled by the meat and dairy industry. A true protein deficiency is practically impossible; you can’t be protein deficient unless you’re calorie deficient. Plants provide more than enough protein and the Standard American Diet (SAD) provides too much protein, which leads to acidity and promotes disease. Meat has addictive properties but giving it up will make you both look and feel markedly better. A plant-based diet will also help prevent the clogging of your arteries and in turn, reduce your risk for vascular disease, erectile dysfunction and impotence.