Our hair, skin, nails, the sheen of our hair and the sparkle of our eyes are affected by what we eat and drink For instance, for good skin you need to look for sources of calcium, like dark green leafy vegetables, sardines with bones and yoghurt. You need food with high water content like watermelons, and other fruits. Vitamin C rich foods are also a necessity for good skin. We are supposed to avoid fried foods, chocolate, alcohol and caffeine because they deprive our bodies of necessary nutrients and moisture. Drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water a day is still the best way to keep skin hydrated and healthy.

If you want to lose weight, eat pasta, potatoes, rice, beans and breads. These natural starches fill your stomach without overloading your system with calories. Your body burns complex carbohydrates as a car would fuel. Combined with a variety of fruits and vegetables for fiber, says Dr. Ronald Hoffman, director of the Hoffman Center for Holistic Medicine in New York, it's virtually impossible to eat enough starches to gain weight. Experts recommend 6-11 serv ings of grain-based foods daily. (One half cup of cooked pasta is one serving.) Actually the traditional Filipino way of eating - eating a mound of rice with lots of vegetables, and fish is healthy. It was only when we started following the American style that we overloaded on pork and beef, when actually we should eat red meat only a few times per month.

If you can't do without fat rich foods, olive oil should be the main source of fat. For centuries, the people in the Mediterranean have liberally used olive oil with no evidence of harm. They cook with it, pour it on salads, drizzle it on bread in place of butter. The main difference between olive oil and most other fats and oils is that it is a predominantly heart healthy monounsaturated fat. When substituted for fats that are more saturated, " mono" fats tend to lower artery-clogging good cholesterol while maintaining levels of protective bad cholesterol. Now since olive oil is quite expensive it will be easy to limit the amount of fat rich foods in your diet.

It's also a good idea to eat more beans, peas and legumes unless you have a problem with your uric acid. These hearty, economical, low-fat foods are the best plant sources of protein and are loaded with fiber, complex carbohydrates and other nutrients.

One thing to avoid: late night eating. Metabolic needs are lowest at night so calories consumed at this time tend to be stored as fat.

And talking about our metabolism, lost muscle lowers our metabolism (which is the rate at which our bodies burn calories, or the complex of physical and chemical processes involved in the maintenance of life). This is the reason there is a problem when you just diet without exercising also. When we cut down on food, the body protects itself by conserving calories and burning muscle instead like it's on a starvation mode. Now since a pound of muscle burns 70 times as many calories as a pound of fat, to achieve weight loss and be trimmer, it's vital to retain and build muscle. The real key is not what we weigh but whe re the weight reduction comes from. When we just diet, it comes from a loss of muscle. If we diet & exercise, our weight may not change because we're gaining muscle, which is pound for pound, one-seventh the dimension for fat. We're gaining muscle, but losing inches. In effect our goal should be not to lose weight but to lose fat. Our battle front should be the tape measure, and not the bathroom scale.


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