The never-ending list of diets can make it hard to know just how to get fit and healthy. Yet eating healthier does not have to be difficult. By taking small steps and making realistic goals that work for each of us is a start! Our body deals well with slow changes in terms of eating and exercise.
So what can we do? Half the battle is understanding food and what carbs and proteins are. One easy way to learn about healthy eating and food is investing in a good low GI or GL book (Glycaemic Index or Glycaemic Load – a way of measuring how food affects blood sugar). Often a good GI book will also explain about fats and cholesterol etc. and the relationship between food and our health. Eating low fat/low GI will keep you full for longer and your energy levels stable and in most cases and can help with weight loss too.
It’s good to start the day with a healthy breakfast. In general, those that have breakfast find it easier to control their weight. NHS Livewell suggest having such things as wholegrain cereals with no added sugar, such as wholegrain porridge oats, and instead of adding sugar, add fruit. A high fibre, low sugar breakfast will keep you fuller for longer, along with some healthy protein.
It’s generally good to eat every 2-3 hours, so we should have healthy snacks between meals such as a piece of fruit such as an apple or pear, along with a healthy protein such as a few nuts or seeds or a small amount of sugar free peanut butter. Other healthy snacking ideas are raw carrots with houmous or a couple of oat biscuits with low fat cottage cheese. By eating regularly you keep your blood sugar on a nice even keel and you can avoid those ‘hangry’ moments and including a healthy protein will keep you fuller for longer. According to Netdoctor, irregular eating habits disrupt your body’s metabolism, which makes it harder to lose weight in the first place.
If we go hours without food we might grab a sugary snack because our body is telling us we need fuel ASAP, whereas eating regularly lowers the risk of reaching for that packet of crisps or biscuit.
Aim to have at least 5 portions of fresh or frozen vegetables and fruit each day. A portion is roughly the amount that can fit into your palm. As a general rule aim to half fill your plate with vegetables and/or salad & then divide the other half into two, filling quarter with starchy vegetables (i.e. potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice) & quarter with protein (i.e meat, tofu, beans, lentils). Don’t overfill your plate, aim for smaller portions.
Just as a starter, a few other small changes can help. Just one less biscuit a week can lead you to lose 5lb a year. Cut out sugary drinks, swap white bread, white rice, white flour with wholegrain and replace whole milk with semi-skimmed/skimmed. Eat more wholegrains, fibre, fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds, pulses and drink more water. NHS Livewell and Netdoctor have more helpful suggestions.
Getting active is essential and goes hand in hand with healthy eating – start making small steps towards activity.
It’s important to check with your GP before making changes to your lifestyle if you have health problems.
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