There was a lot I learned during my journey to change from being a fat, food-addicted, food-fearing, yo-yo dieter into a healthy-weighted, food-enjoying, former food junkie. And now, I pass these lessons along to you with the hope that these 10 tips will help you, too.
Image: Sondanie Chea via Flickr
Learn to Cook
By learning to cook, you will always be able to eat healthily. You are in complete control of what you take into your body. You are not handing over responsibility to the producers of ready meals, no matter how healthy they claim it to be.Keep Your Portions in Proportion
We've lost our way a bit when it comes to portion sizes and how they should be made up. I used to cook enough every day for 4 to 6 people, when I was aiming for 2. We've also been confused by restaurant portions that are way out of control. Even the average size of a dinner plate has increased by about 4 cm in diameter.
The last thing I want you to do is to get the digital scales out and start weighing everything, so I put together this visual which I hope will help.
Plan Meals and Make Shopping Lists
I know all the excuses:
- “How do I know what I want to eat next Thursday?"
- "I don't have time to spend making lists and planning meals."
- "I want to be spontaneous."
- "What about if I go out or if plans change?"
I'm a planner but I get that not everybody is. When I talk to clients about planning and they give me a deep sigh, I usually ask them how often they visit the supermarket each week. The funny thing is these spontaneous, time-constrained individuals usually go if not every day, at least 3 or 4 times per week.
Me, I go once a week. All that extra time spent aimlessly browsing the shelves can work negatively, in that you are much more likely to give in to impulses. You are putting yourself in the position of having to face temptation more often. Planning your food for the week will free up time for you in other areas.No More Diets - Yeehaa!
If there is one thing that has been proven about diets, it's that they make you fatter. I mean, if all those diets worked, there'd be no more diet industry, right? Instead the diet industry is worth millions and continues to grow. I should know, I dieted for more than 30 years of my life and all it did was get me to a weight of almost 120kgs.
I understand, as a seasoned yo-yoer myself, that it is VERY difficult to kick the habit. You know logically that it's not working long term, but it's just too tempting. So, what I would suggest is if you want to be healthier and lose some weight, just try not dieting for a change.
If it doesn't work, then be my guest and reach for those meal replacements.Get Some Sleep
After a short night of z's, you have a stronger craving for that muffin/fatty latte/bar of chocolate/packet of biscuits/Chinese takeout. People who don't get enough sleep are more likely to be overweight than those who do. Do yourself a favour and take your mum's advice; get a good night's sleep.Think Before You Drink
When I first wrote about this, I was actually referring to alcohol, but this advice actually goes for any kind of liquid. Alcohol contains a lot of sugar, so, a lot of calories. A large glass of wine (250ml = 3 units of alcohol) can be about 220 calories, this is about half of the amount of calories you can expect to find in a healthy evening meal and about a 10th of you daily recommended calorie intake as a woman.
So think about it before you order: is it really worth it? The other thing about alcohol is that it makes it much more difficult to make good food choices.
But it's not just alcohol: drinks can be a way that we take on extra calories without being aware. The worst culprits are those so-called healthy smoothies or the luxury coffees. Watch out for the sugar you're adding to your morning cuppa tea or Joe. Of course I don't have to tell you about sweet fizzy drinks. They are just loaded with sugar.Spice up Your Life
Taking the words of wisdom from the Spice girls, this is a great way to add healthy flavour to your food. It can be difficult to wean yourself of all those tempting sweet, creamy flavours and textures. There's a reason for that, we're programmed to go for high fat, high sugar foods as they give us lots of energy.
You don't want to be eating bland food. When I discovered spices (and herbs) it really opened my eyes, I realised that I could bring flavour to anything and make the meal satisfying and enjoyable. Start small, mix a few, get a little collection together and believe me, you'll never look back. See my article on spices for beginners.Take Time to Eat
When you eat, do just that, nothing else. No watching TV, checking emails, phones, whatever. It really does help to sit at the table and concentrate on that one thing, your food. There is a little bit of science behind this, too. It takes about 20 minutes for the message from your stomach that it is full to reach your brain, so, you need to give it time to get there. As much as we liked to believe otherwise, our brains aren't great at multitasking. So give it the space to get the message.Eat Regularly
It sounds really basic, I know, three square meals a day, but it does help. It's easy to get into habits about skipping meals (especially breakfast and lunch). We get busy, and we skip a meal. The thing is, if you skip a meal, you will only crave the more unhealthy food the hungrier you get.
You need to keep the fires burning, keep the metabolism ticking over, and I've always found that the key is not to let myself get starving hungry. When I am, I just grab anything I can get my hands on - so watch out.Beware the "Expert"
What I mean by expert is the latest diet/healthy eating guru who claims to have found that elusive silver bullet. It might be a restrictive diet; or a diet supplement, pill, powder or potion; or an intensive unsustainable eating or exercise program; or the latest superfood (just a marketing term by the way).
If you'd like to know more about how I lost 35 kilos and kept it off, check out my book Love Food, Live Healthy by visiting Amazon to purchase it digitally or in paperback.
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