I am always saying that “losing weight” should never be the number one objective of any health and fitness kick…it should be one of the welcome results of such a campaign, along with the many other benefits that a healthy lifestyle can bring.
People who just want to lose weight in isolation and try to do so by going on a calorie counting or abstinence regime are probably not going to succeed in the long term and will most likely get pretty depressed at the same time. It’s much better to get to grips with the reasons why you are unfit and overweight and end up with a more effective long term solution.
So saying, there’s no point at all changing all your habits and routines and getting more active if at the end of the day you’re still eating lots of all the wrong types of foods and drinks!
So it makes sense to follow some very simple eating rules – you’ll have heard them all before but if they are followed in conjunction with other lifestyle changes, then you’ll dramatically increase your chance of long term success!
1. Go for brown, not white: Brown/wholewheat bread, pasta, rice, flour and cereal. If something is white, then it means it’s been processed and most of the goodness will have been stripped out. And remember to limit the amounts you have…just because it IS brown does NOT mean you can eat unlimited quantities!
2. Eat breakfast – go for eggs, or yoghurt with some fruit and nuts. Cereals and porridge are fine if you have it unrefined (eg weetabix or shredded wheat) and have it with a small amount of skimmed milk and/or natural yoghurt. If you are in a hurry, grab a handful of nuts and a piece of fruit as you rush out of the house.
Avoid sweet or processed foods such as white toast loaded with butter and jam, sugary cereals and large glasses of fruit juice.
Some experts say that breakfast is not important and if you are someone who just can’t face food first thing then that’s fine, as long as the rest of your eating “day” is sensible. However, the trap comes mid morning when the tummy rumbles and a cappuccino and full fat muffin beckons!
3. Stop snacking! Eat three balanced meals containing the right things in the right quantities. If you must have something in between, then a try a glass of water, handful of nuts, a natural yoghurt, a piece of fruit or a raw vegetable.
OK, but what’s life without the occasional chocolate biscuit, packet of crisps or ice cream? The answer is to keep it just that…occasional. If you snack on high sugar/fat items throughout the day then it’s time to change!
4. Avoid processed foods. That pretty means any food that’s had something done to it before you buy it. Occasional ready meals or pizzas are fine but only really once or twice a month.
5. Skip puddings. If you think the vast majority of puddings are a) sugary and b) normally eaten when you are probably full, then you’ll know why this is a wise move! If you are desperate have a small piece of dark chocolate instead and eat it VERY slowly.
6. Limit your helpings and STOP eating as soon as you feel a bit full. Nearly everyone puts too much food on their plates and then goes on eating after they feel full. Just don’t!
7. Eat more chicken and fish. Limit red meat to once or twice a month.
8. Learn how to steam and stir fry. A wok and a steamer are invaluable in the kitchen…they make cooking quicker, healthier and the food will always taste nicer.
9. When you shop make sure you stock up on the “healthy” stuff and avoid the “bad” stuff. If you come home from work and the only thing in the cupboard is a ready meal, then that’s what you’ll have. Come home to some chicken and veg, then you can cook up a tasty stir fry in the same amount of time as a ready meal in the microwave.
10. Eat sensibly but never “ban” anything, particularly your favourite treat or snack. If you get into the habit of sensible eating, then having an Indian takeaway or an ice cream blowout every now and again is fine!