With weight loss and healthy eating at the top of the New Year’s resolution list – here’s some ideas to get you started.
The key to healthy eating is essentially – everything in moderation. Diets that completely cut out a food group and require drastic changes to your daily rituals are hard to follow and often have varying results. If you feel that you need some support then groups like weight watchers or the support of a friend can be helpful. If you feel however that you can go it alone then read on and start today – not tomorrow!
· Use the food pyramid
o Use a carbohydrate base for your meal (pasta, potato, rice – the brown varieties are especially good) and bulk it out with vegetables. If you have a big appetite then bulking your meals up with vegetables will help you stay fuller for longer. You will also be benefitting from the array of vitamins and minerals in fresh veg. Try not to overcook veg however as you can destroy the goodness in them by doing so.
o Snack on fresh fruit during the day. There is a massive range of fruits available – try to get fresh, ripe fruit from a good supplier and you’ll notice the difference in quality immediately.
o Enjoy good quality meat, fish or eggs with your main meal during the day and include dairy (when possible) to ensure your calcium intake is sufficient.
o Finally top it off with a little (a little) sweet thing. Having a weekly treat can be very rewarding. If however you find yourself on a mars bar a day then it’s time to cut back. Putting that in Irish terms a single mars bar has the equivalent calorific value of 3.5 glasses of wine… Snacks like curly whirlys and dark chocolate can still give you the sugar hit without the massive amount of calories to boot.
· Try to cut back on white bread and very starchy foods
o White bread causes a rapid spike in the body’s blood sugar levels as it’s digested, once that peak has subsided the blood sugar levels fall rapidly creating that sluggish feeling (3pm slump…) and often is the reason behind the craving for sweet/sugary foods.
· Make sure you are properly hydrated
o Drinking enough water is one of the best pieces of advice that I can give you. A loss in hydration can account for loss of concentration, headaches and fatigue. The recommendations vary depending on weight, activity and health but usually for women the recommendation is approx 2 Litres and for men 3 Litres per day. If you aren’t used to drinking this amount build it up gradually. You may be irritated by the increased urination but as your body adjusts to the fluid intake this will pass.
· If you don’t eat a particular food/food group make sure you replace the lost nutrients
o If you are a vegetarian or vegan then you are probably aware of getting nutrients such as iron and calcium elsewhere in your diet, however for those of us who don’t eat fish, veg, carbohydrates or pulses then you need to think about replacing the missing pieces with other foods. More info on this to follow.
Try to vary your diet to incorporate new foods, new vegetables, fruit and different herbs and spices. Cooking with fatty foods can make food flavoursome but using interesting herbs and spices to add flavour is a great way to keep food tasting great but without all the added calories.
Overall try to enjoy your food. Healthy eating isn’t a chore – fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, fish and dairy are available in varying levels of quality from the newsagents, to the supermarket, the green grocer and the country markets. Eat the best food that you can afford and you won’t regret it. The quality of the ingredients is so important when it comes to enjoying the end result – your health.