This diet, that diet? These foods are good, these foods are bad? Fast, feed, drink? Low fat, low carb? Low protein, high protein? It’s a minefield out there. Everywhere you look there’s another fad diet popped up.
1. Eat healthily and remain hydrated.
2. Be active, smile lots and have fun.
3. Do everything in moderation.
But if you want more than just three simple points, hopefully some of these tips might help if healthy eating and / or weight loss is your goal:
Set yourself a goal
Before you decide on a way to lose the weight, you need to know how much you want to shed and be realistic about how quickly you’ll achieve it. A recommended guide is a weight loss of 1-2lbs a week. If your expectations are too high you can easily lose the motivation once you realise you’re not losing the weight you want. Slow and steady wins the race.
Weight loss may happen more quickly at the start, and may plateaux off, so don’t be demotivated if your weight loss slows. Keep your eye on the goal, look where you’ve come from and all the work you’ve done and you’ll get there.
Take before and after measurements and photos so that you can see the progress on something other than the weight scale. I’d highly recommend you measure your body fat % too as sometimes weight can remain the same, but body fat reduces (which is better than weight loss).
And there are plenty more amazing people than me out there! Some of my readers have lost 3, 4, 5, 6, or even more, stone in weight! You can do it too. 🙂
Watch your portion sizes
It’s amazing how everyone has such varied ideas of portion sizes and what a difference this makes to total calories consumed. To start off, try weighing out your food and comparing this to the food label portion sizes – you may be in for a shock.
When having a treat, think about how much you need in order to enjoy it. Do you need a whole serving of dessert or are a few spoonfuls enough? Or can you swap your dessert for something healthier, but just as satisfying. Use smaller plates or bowls to make portions look bigger: it worked for me to reduce the humongous bowls of cereal I was having!
Eat little and often
Are you ever hungry? Unless you’re fasting, you shouldn’t ever be hungry.
Eat little amounts often. I eat every 2-3 hours which keeps my metabolism high and calories burning.
As soon as you start to feel hungry, you body slows down, not the effect you want for calorie burn. (Fasting is a whole other story: see here for more information in fasting).
Eat healthy foods and aim to be full up of nutritious foods. Don’t worry too much about counting calories, eat sensibly, don’t be greedy (like me and my gelatos!), and don’t over think or over complicate things.
Eat a simple, healthy, balanced and nutritious diet
Eat a balanced diet: 33% fat, 33% carbs, 33% protein. If you don’t know what foods have what the just go for foods which you think are healthy: go or natural sources of foods.
Foods which are grown or born: Eat fresh foods (which go off). Avoid foods which last for months or years. Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, berries, nuts, fruit are all better than chips, crisps, chocolate and mars bars.
If you want a treat, have it in a small mount preferably after a meal. Everything in moderation. If you have a splurge, don’t beat yourself up for too long, but get back onto healthy eating and try not to have a splurge again! Swap crap quality foods for good quality foods, one by one, week by week and you’ll soon see a difference.
Eat slowly and listen to your body
Take your time when you eat. Consciously chew your food, and taste and appreciate it. Listen to your body and stomach. This also relates to portion sizes, keep them small and you should be ok finishing your plate.
If portions are too big you may be tempted to finish it all. But if you’re stuffed and there’s still food left on the plate – leave it there! No matter how tasty it is, if you are full, you are full!
Eat slowly, let your food digest and listen to your body when it’s trying to tell you it’s had enough! I know I prefer to be comfortably satisfied than overly stuffed.
Fill up before you eat a meal
This might sound odd, but if you drink a glass of water (or eat a light snack or small bowl of soup) before you eat your meal, you should fill up quicker and eat less calories for your meal. This is where looking out or portion sizes and knowing when you’re full counts, but it can help to reduce total intake, as long as you remember to stop eating hrs you are full (and not when the plate is empty.)
Hungry or habit?
Do you eat out of hunger or habit? Cereal followed by toast at breakfast? Crisps with a sandwich at lunchtime? Are you actually hungry or do you have the additional item just for routine’s sake? If you really are hungry, try replacing that ‘extra’ item with a smoothie or piece of fruit instead.
Once you’ve eaten. Stop, wait and then ask yourself: am I full? If you are, don’t have that usual extra bit of food, just enjoy the fact you are fulln and let your body digest your food!
Write it down
People often struggle to remember everything they eat in a day, and forget about the ‘extras’ that can contribute considerably to the daily calorie intake. Recording a day’s intake can be useful in getting an accurate picture of food consumption.
You could keep a paper diary, or an online blog. Keep the blog private to yourself, or share it with others through Social Networking sites… whatever works for you.
How many coffee shop stops do you have in a week? Do you keep a check on those after work drinks? Try to have calorie containing drinks as an occasional treat rather than a regular. Sports drinks, fizzy drinks, even fresh orange juice.
Don’t even get me started on diet drinks!! Water is the answer. Water is best. Drink lots of it. Our body is partly made of water: I have a bottle at my desk I refill all day. Don’t like water? Add cucumber, strawberries, lemon or lime or some other fruit or veg to flavour it. Or try green tea. I like it too, and it’s well healthy. Milk is better than the other drinks listed above, but go for water if you can. 🙂
Oh and I almost forgot about alcohol (easy when you don’t drink it and it’s not part of your life). It’s no coincidence that I gave up drink and easily maintain my weight now.
Alcohol is empty calories. 1 pint = a snickers bar (without the chocolate, caramel and nuts). Try going without alcohol for a quarter, or a month, or fortnight, (or a weekend lol) and see what Impact it has on your weight loss and general well being.
Prepare your own food for the day / week
I used to rely on the office canteen for food, but not anymore. Now I prepare most my food at the start of the week and store it in air tight containers so all I need to do on the day is make up a protein shake, take a snack and get my meals from the fridge.
I aim to eat good quality carbs, protein and fats for breakfast, a protein shake as a snack, a little more good carbs and protein for kip inch, and a high protein snack in the afternoon. With low quality carbs and sugar out of the way, and plenty of water, long gone are my mid afternoon slumps. 🙂
Avoid office snacks
Ok, so you’ve packed your food and snacks for at work but then realised that it’s someone’s birthday at the office and they’ve brought cake. The problem with offices is that there are often chocolates, biscuits and cakes on offer which can be hard to resist, especially during that afternoon lull.
It may be useful to have your own rule of avoiding office snacks completely to help avoid temptation. For me it’s simple, I make I’m full up with my own prepared food and healthy snacks so that I’m not tempted by office treats. It works for me.
Top up with vegetables
If you’re used to having a full plate of food, try to make sure that half of the plate is made up of vegetables. Vegetables are such a good source of vitamins and fibre whilst being low in calories, so are a nutritious way of filling you up. Broccoli, peas, salad, spinach, tomatoes, onions, cauliflower, cabbage, kale … the list goes on. Plus, greens fill you up so you’re not hungry for anything else. For more on what to eat see: Smarter Science of Slim 7 day guide.
Eating healthily doesn’t need to be boring and if food remains exciting, there is less chance to slip up. Try a new healthy food every week and aim to incorporate this into your meals. Replace low quality carb / sugary foods with healthy foods. One out: one in. Eat for nutrition and taste. Not sugar and taste!
Eat good fats: limit the rest
Fat tends to get really bad press, but some fats are good. Fats in Extra Virgin olive oil, nuts, eggs, fish, seeds, avocados are all good sources of fat and energy. When cooking, try to limit the amount of fat when cooking by grilling, steaming or microwaving food and removing the visible fat and skin from meat and poultry. Aim to eat food cooked from scratch as opposed to microwave / processed meals which tend to be laden with excess sugar and salt.
Whatever you do, don’t go for ‘low fat foods’ or ‘no fat foods’. If you check the labels, all the makers of these foods do is take out the fat, and replace them with low quality carbs. Check the labels: you’ll more than likely see something lie this: 60g item: Fat: 0g, Carbs: 40g (of which are sugars: 37g). 37g of sugar!! What does sugar do? It spikes your insulin levels, which in turn makes you store any carbs which have not been used as…. you guessed it… FAT in your body!
Cook at home
The problem with eating out is that chefs often add extra fat and sugar to dishes so that they taste nicer and customers will return. It’s fine to eat out occasionally; but a few nights a week may start to affect your waistline.
Cooking at home means you’re in control of the calories. And instead of your weekly takeaway, why not try tin foil trout or try out other new tasty recipes from the Internet or phone apps. Try a Date night in with your partner where one if you cooks for the other. Easy on the wine. 😉
Be more active!
Being more active need not mean running marathons or swimming the channel. It can mean anything from walking more, getting out running, cycling to and from work or doing a few classes at the gym. Join a club, walk with friends. See here, even standing instead of sitting at work is recommended!
Why not think about getting a Nike Fuel Band? It can be a great way of tracking and increasing your activity.
You can set yourself daily fuel point (activity) goals, compete with yourself, and others and it’s a great looking little gadget too. And by the way – if you think I’m active? Fit Girl is almost ALWAYS beating me on Nike Plus!! Arg! She never sits still… it’s not just running that does it, it’s everything: every action and movement you make counts towards your goal (fuel points and calorie burn to aid weight loss).
And if you are losing weight, consider taking up some form of weight training (body pump, circuits, weights in the gym). When you lose fat, it’s good to build muscle in its place. Muscle burns calories, so when you have more muscle, your metabolism is higher than if you had less muscle. With more muscle, you’ll burn more calories at rest, as well as looking and feeling great (own pace any initial pain wears off. 😉 ).
Have you started your weight loss journey and are you well on the way?
How much have you lost? (lbs & cms?)
Is your weight loss stuck, or would you like to start losing weight?
What are your tips for a healthy lifestyle?