It’s very easy to be confused by the multitude of nutritional advice being provided in the media today; hence I have decided to recommend the following 10 guidelines to help you be healthier, weight less and become fitter in 2015!
Eat in moderation
This doesn’t mean a specific amount of food or specified number of calories per day. Eating in moderation refers to your attitude to restraint with regard what you are eating. In simple terms this means eat to fuel your lifestyle and no more. This varies according to every individual’s circumstances. For example, a marathon runner who has little excess body fat and runs seventy miles every week will need more food each day than a sedentary office worker who needs to shift 3 extra stone. Moderation means stopping eating when you begin to feel full. Make sure you eat slowly so you know when you have reached this point! Stop for a few minutes to let your food go down and you will be far more likely to resist a second slice of pizza and to choose vegetables instead of additional chips.
In order to eat in moderation, you need to know portion sizes. But we are looking at a manageable lifestyle change not a rigid diet plan. The foods you eat will fall into either of two categories: carbohydrate or protein. Carbohydrates include fruit, vegetables, bread, pasta and rice. These last three are starches; you will need to limit your consumption of these if you want to lose weight and keep it off. Proteins are meat, eggs and dairy. Each serving of carbs should be about the size of your closed fist. A serving of protein will be approximately the size of your palm.
The easiest way to eat in moderation is to divide your plate into quarters. Half your plate should be covered with fruits and vegetables. A quarter of your plate should be allocated for protein, and a quarter can be used for starches for example bread, baked potato and pasta. If you aren’t full by this point, eat only extra vegetables. Leave out extra starches. Additional protein is allowed, particularly if you are physically active.
Avoid empty calories
An empty calorie is a food or drink that has zero nutritional value besides its energy value. This includes sugary drinks like lemonade or lucozade. Other examples of empty calories would be most breakfast cereals and sweets. Empty calories should be saved for a weekend treat and special occasions only. No exceptions. If you make a habit of regularly consuming these empty calories, they will likely catch up to you in the form of blood sugar problems, weight gain, and poor health.
Limit sweet and/or fatty food to one meal per week
This is straight forward. Stay away from sweet, fatty food e.g. cakes, biscuits- have them in moderation once a week if you must.
Eat five servings of vegetables each day
There is no need to restrict carbohydrates from vegetables as some diets would have you do. Fruits must be limited yes, but no one ever become fat eating vegetables in excess. As well as filling you up they keep you healthy by providing essential vitamins and minerals your diet may be lacking if you avoid them.
Don't cover them in oil or cheese either, eat them raw or with a main meal on their own. Select a variety of colours to get the full benefit from them.
Choose whole grains
When you decide to eat starches, look for whole grain sources which provide better nutrition than their highly refined counterparts. For example, next time you have pasta, try whole-wheat instead of regular. You could try mixing both whole-wheat and regular pasta in your dishes until you get used to the fuller flavor. After a short while you will find that whole-wheat pasta far more flavour and is much more satisfying. When buying bread, get a whole-grain variety instead white, even if your white bread is “fortified with vitamins and minerals.” Make sure you look for bread that has whole-wheat or whole-grain as the first ingredient on the label, and look for products with 2-2.5 grams or more of fiber per serving.
Choose lean meats
You do not have to be a vegetarian in order to be a healthy eater; vegetarianism is not the healthiest approach to eating in itself. You can keep good nutritional habits and still eat meat on a regular basis. The most important thing is to choose leaner meats- they are high in protein and have limited saturated fats. Fish, chicken, venison, turkey, and lean beef. You might limit red meat to two meals week as more frequent consumption has been linked to serious health risks. Fattier meats like pork should be consumed on a less frequent basis. Check how the meat is prepared. Avoid fried foods as much as possible. Processed meats like sausages and bacon are full of fat and chemicals and are high in sodium so avoid whenever possible. Heart patients need to eliminate all fatty and processed meats from their diet.
Chose low fat alternatives
Always look at food labels. Not all reduced fat or fat-free foods are good for you. Many contain extra sodium, sugar, or other chemicals that can be harmful long term. Many however are good alternatives to high fat foods. Whenever possible, choose the healthier food option. For example, iceburg lettuce offers little in the way of nutrition, but green leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, and spinach leaves are a great alternative for salads and side dishes, and they have more taste. Many low-fat or fat free salad dressings are good alternatives to high fat versions. Whenever you can, order grilled chicken instead of fried, wholegrain bread instead of white, jacket potato instead of chips. Having the healthier alternative is the main thing to remember whenever you’re about to eat a meal or snack. By applying this simple rule, you can make good choices about your food and drink and enjoy it guilt-free knowing that you are on your way to becoming fitter and healthier.
Forget the olive oil
Many people seem to treat olive oil like it is a "free" food i.e. they can have a s much as they want, guilt free. They drown their salads, roast their vegetables with it smother thier pasta- because it's healthy right? Good for the heart it may be (which is debatable) but it will also make you fat in record time; it is very high in calories and your body will covert it to fat in an instant. If you wonder why you can't lose weight try leaving it off your healthy meals.
Have one cheat day per week
Have one day a week when you ease up on your diet a little. This will help stop your metabolic rate from dropping and make you more likely to stick to your diet. But be sensible! Don't at until you can't get up from the table. Eat until you begin to feel full, eat slowly and enjoy your cheat food. Do not scoff down an entire pizza; just have a couple of slices. One slice of cake not the whole lot. If you do over indulge you may very well put all the weight back on you have lost that week.
Exercise four to six days per week
Not nutrition I know but exercise is critical in achieving and maintaining good health and low body fat. To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you take in. The best plan for long-term weight loss combines healthy eating with increased physical activity. But exercise isn’t just for people who need to lose weight; a habit of exercise is for everyone. You do not have to sign up to a gym, lift heavy weights, or run marathons to get all the exercise you need. Go for a brisk walk of thirty to sixty minutes; perform calisthenics at home; or try an exercise DVD that you might enjoy doing three or four days per week. Try to move more in between workouts- increase your daily physical activity by taking the stairs instead of the lift, parking your car at the back of the car park instead of finding a spot close to the supermarket, walk to work or park a couple of miles away or take your children to a park and running and play along with them. Look for a way to make exercise fun, and you will be more likely to stick with it for the long-term.