01/15/2015 12:45 EST | Updated 03/17/2015 05:59 EDT

Top Tips For Weight Loss And Weight Management

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I was at my regular yoga class the other day and noticed how suddenly the number of students had increased after New Years.

During the holidays there was maybe 10 people in the class. Then after Jan. 1st the class grew (seemed like overnight) to 20 or more people.

That is great. I know a lot of people (myself included) consider Jan. 1st to be a time to wipe the slate clean and start new. As the first month of the year goes along, it is easy to fall back into old routines.

To avoid the lapse into previous habits and find some helpful tips on weight loss and maintenance, I spoke with Emma Andrews, Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Certified Plant-Based Culinary Professional, and National Educator at Vega.

Emma shared her top tips for keeping lean and healthy in 2015.

What is the best strategy for losing weight long term?

Weight management is all about consistency. It includes consistently making healthier choices more often than not, and committing to bounce back when you fall off track.

It also entails being consistent with your new lifestyle changes, such as following through on meal planning and food prep time weekly, and intentional grocery shopping. I always have a few recipes in mind when I shop, and then I fill the rest of my basket with local, seasonal ingredients to keep costs sustainable and ensure my diet emphasizes real, whole foods.

You can never go wrong eating whole foods as the foundation to your diet. Fresh, nutrient dense foods help crowd out cravings.

I also recommend consistently using visualization exercises. Take 5 to 10 minutes to set an intention around what your best life feels like. Imagine it fully. This will help support a motivated mind set towards your "best weight" goals.

Are there any foods to avoid?

Generally, foods that contain dairy and gluten, as well as refined sugars and food additives such as artificial colours, and preservatives (think sulphites and excess sodium) can irritate your digestive system. This can lead to bloating and fatigue, from sluggish digestion.

Try avoiding these ingredients for 2 to 4 weeks to help re-set your digestive system. Eliminate foods that contain refined sugar or flour, replacing them with whole foods such as root vegetables, squash, brassica vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts), fruits, or gluten-free whole grains like quinoa and rice.

Keep drinking lots of water, using fresh herbs and spices for flavor, and focus on getting enough rest each night and fresh air daily. Gauge waistline improvements by the changing fit of your everyday clothes (less snug?!).

Are there certain foods that will help with weight management?

Stick to dairy-free, gluten-free, clean whole foods that are rich in protein and fiber. Protein and fiber keep you fuller for longer because they take longer to digest.

Try a nutritional shake with low-glycemic calories and is high satiety to help support weight management. You won't be hungry 20 minutes after. Try it with unsweetened almond milk, or blend it into a smoothie with added (hidden!) vegetables.

Other great clean ideas for satisfying cravings, through high fiber protein, and/or fat content include:

• BBQ Kale Chips

• Cashew Herb Dip with diced vegetable crudité such as radishes, snow peas, and bell peppers

• Nacho Roasted Chickpeas

• Summer Rolls with Mango, Lime and Mint Dipping Sauce

• Vegan Cauliflower Buffalo Wings

Some people think that eating low fat is the best way to lose weight, is this true?

Not all fats are created equally. I always teach my audiences and clients to think about 3 things in relation to fats in their diet: 1) quality 2) type and 3) amount. These factors can help to identify healthy fats.

Quality and type of fats refers to choosing only whole fats (such as olives, avocados, nut and seed butters) and their unrefined, virgin or cold-pressed oils. These foods are higher in healthy unsaturated fat and do not contain cholesterol.

Being mindful of the amount you consume is a part of keeping your overall caloric intake in alignment with your weight loss goals. Fats are satiating, and provide wonderful flavor to food, so can actually help elevate a simple vegetables dishes.

Do avoid hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated fats and oils. These highly processed fats can affect normal cellular function. Read labels, and avoid fried food, in favor of sautéed or steamed options.

How to stay on track once you have lost the weight?

Continuing to crowd out cravings with nutrient dense, real whole foods will ensure lasting success. No matter what life changes come up, or unforeseen obstacles threaten to throw you off track (as road bumps are inevitable), always return to whole foods as the foundation of your diet.

Make a commitment to a daily clean eating habit that you know you can sustain through your workweek (i.e. 5 days a week). This will reinforce a practice of consistency, yet allows for a little wiggle room on your "days off."

I like using a daily smoothie rich in plant-based proteins and greens as a way to cover my nutritional bases, and give me the energy to get the most out of my day. A satisfying, nutrient dense habit worth keeping.

Your suggestions are always welcome, as I continue on my journey to enjoy life to the fullest. Let's have the very best 2015!

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