Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Healthy eating tips - a realistic guide

When it comes to nutrition and specifically, nutrition advice,I ALWAYS say,

"It needs to be sustainable."

By this I mean people's approach to dieting. It's unrealistic to ask the average person to know the exact content of every meal, weigh out each ingredient for home cooked meals and avoid completely some of the naughty things they enjoy eating. Unless you have a nutritionist, a chef and don't keep a regular job then for many, this isn't a realistic way of life.

For the average person, nutrition management can be significantly improved at your diet issues in much more general terms and taking the following measures to control any poor eating habits...

Portion control...
We've grown up hearing "finish what's on your plate" and "Don't let that go to waste!" and had this conditioned into us from an early age. It's a hard habit to break but an easy one to control - don't put it on the plate. It's often said that the body takes 20 minutes to realise that it's full so inevitably we often eat too much and feel over-full shortly after.

My advice to my clients that struggle with portion control is:
Plate up what you'd usually eat, then, take a third of everything and take it off the plate. If you're GENUINELY hungry 20 minutes after dinner you can have some more. If you find yourself cutting this third from every meal then you've cut your daily calories by a third (aside from snacks) How easy was that!?!..

If lunchtime sandwiches are your downfall, make yourself some wraps, less carbs and there's no way you can stuff all the same filling into that, simple, but it works!

Cheat days ( I prefer "treat" days)...
If you're told "Never do this..", "avoid this at all costs..", "You're not allowed this.." then you'll soon resent your diet and fall off the wagon.
So dangle yourself a carrot. Tell yourself that if you can control your eating habits for just 5 days then you can have a "cheat/treat day" where you eat something a little naughty. This means no mid-week drinking, takeaways, sweets and other naughty bits, knowing that Friday or Saturday is going to be your day.

You'd be surprised how much better things taste when you have them less often. And if you can't control yourself for just 5 days then you have to take a serious look at your will power and commitment to be healthy.

Food preparation...
If you decide to "just pick something up" for lunch or while you're on the go then you'll be hard pushed to find anything that you can classify as mildly "healthy". Seriously, take a walk around your local BP petrol station and try to piece together a worthwhile on-the-go meal. Don't be fooled by pasta "salads". Using the word "salad" doesn't make it healthy!

For this reason, food preparation is essential! Preparing fresh food for the day ahead or tomorrow's lunch will have huge repercussions on your health. It might mean a few less minutes in bed but it's well worth it.

If you seriously can't bring yourself to do it the cook too much at meal times. Cook too much for dinner and use it for lunches later in the week.

Hunger scale...
If at times you find yourself eating for eating's sake then try using a hunger scale. Before you eat, stop and think, "Out of 10, how hungry am I?.." If the answer is 1-5: You don't get to eat, 6-8: it's meal time, 9 or 10: you've left it too late; sure you gota eat but be aware that you've gone too long without food.

By using this scale, this will firstly stop you eating just "because you wanted to" and also make you more aware of your hunger, eating patterns and habits. Often people eat through habit and not hunger.

Drink, drink, drink...
The brain can, at times, have difficulty differentiating between being hungry and being thirsty. When you feel hungry make sure your first reaction is get a drink of water. Have a drink and wait a while if you're still really hungry then go for it, if not, stick with the water for a little.

Most people don't drink enough during the day as it is and this can seriously slow down your metabolism. So, even if you do decide to eat after, adding to your daily water intake will do you some good.

Eat more...
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I just said eat less, BUT, there's a large proportion of people who need to eat more, or at leats more often. It's imperative to NOT skip meals, specifically breakfast! The body likes things to be regulated. It likes to know when it's going to get fed, how much is going to be expected of it in terms of activity and how much rest it can have each day. If you're eating sparadically and skipping meals at times then the body will panic and begin to store fuel and insulation... fat! If you don't want your body to store fat you need to feed it on a regular basis.

Snack with food, not with "snacks"...
When people say "snack" they generally think crisps, biscuit, bits and pieces basically. The actual nutritional value in most of these foods is usually pretty poor and as a result won't fuel you sufficiently and will inevitably, leave you feeling hungry soon after and eating again.

Try to snack on real food. This leads on nicely from the idea of cooking too much, if it's there in the fridge it's easy and tastes decent too. What about the thirds you've taken from dinners now you're all about portion control? Use them for snacks later in the week.

Don't fight fat with Fad's!...
There seems to be endless "Fad diets", often popularised by celebrities, from the Atkins diet, to Special K diet or cabbage soup diet. Whatever it is, avoid it. They have their time and place, if you want to do a last minute reduction for a special event, night out or holiday, go for it. But know that any weight loss is likely to be temporary. If diets worked there wouldn't be a diet industry... there would just be A diet and we'd all stick to it. As I said in the opener, what you eat must be sustainable; these diets are too extreme and too hard to follow. Can you say you'll never drink alcohol, never treat yourself to something sweet, never eat a takeaway or meal out?.. NO?.. then ultimately, the diet will fail.

In short, there's LOADS you can do to help control eating habits and improve the quality of what you're feeding on. You don't have to be militant about it, and you should let yourself enjoy food, alcohol, treats and whatever floats your boat... but in moderation. Most people use the 70/30 rule (70% good Vs 30% bad food) and that's not a bad approach.

Often it's just a case of being more aware of what you're sticking in and thinking before doing. It may feel alien at first but it can soon become an easy and sustainable habit.

Don't forget to follow me on (that's not me below):

No comments:

Post a Comment