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Now that the Christmas indulgence is over, and you’ve seen in the New Year, you may be thinking of shaping up – losing weight and getting fitter. May I encourage you to think of the ‘New You’ as a longer term work in progress? New Years Resolutions rarely last, and can end up leaving you frustrated and disappointed.
The key to successful weight loss is making small sustainable changes to your current diet which you will be able to continue in the long term. There is no point ditching all your favourite foods, as you will be doomed to failure. Don’t forget the importance of exercise too – see point 4.
If you want to lose weight and shape up for the summer, here are a few tips to help you succeed:
1. Carbs are your friend!
Eating a small portion of high-fibre starchy carbohydrate at each meal is important. This will help regulate your metabolism, provide energy to fuel your day, and stop you feeling hungry in between meals and going for sugary / fatty snacks (or the leftover Christmas goodies!). Good ideas include oats for breakfast, homemade rice salad for lunch, and baked potato / couscous for dinner.
2. Choose healthier snacks
Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories, so are a great choice for healthy snacks. You can always add some natural yoghurt, cream cheese or hummous dip to accompany them. Nuts and dried fruit (max 1 tablespoon of each) make a good snack for ‘on the go’. Invest in some small storage pots. Taking a nice selection of berries (e.g. raspberries, blueberries, grapes) or exotic (‘special’) fruits may encourage you to get excited about your fruit.
The following snacks contain approximately 50 kcal each:
|Medium piece of fruit||2 plain rice cakes / breadsticks||3 dried apricots|
|Handful of grapes (80g)||2 clementines / small satsumas||2 small plums|
|Small banana (or ½ medium banana)||10g (dessertspoon) of nuts or seeds||2 tomatoes|
|1 tablespoon (miniature box) raisins||3 sticks of celery and 2 tsp hummus||12 cherries|
|200g strawberries||3” of cucumber||80g pineapple chunks / rings|
|Cup of edamame beans||1 cream cracker with thinly spread low fat cream cheese||2 squares dark chocolate|
|2 tbsp reduced fat hummus with raw vegetables||50g low fat natural yoghurt|
3. Each day is a new day
Fell off the wagon today? Well don’t worry; re-focus on tomorrow. One day will not have ruined all your hard work. Sometimes doing some exercise in the morning (if you are able to) sets a precedent for the day, and you’re more likely to eat more healthily.
4. Exercise is as importance as healthy eating
It is almost impossible to lose weight in a healthy way by restricting calories alone – if you restrict your calories too much you will miss out on important nutrients like calcium and iron. Think about an exercise routine which will fit in with your current lifestyle. If like me you’ve got young children, a gym membership may not be for you. However, starting up jogging or an aerobics DVD after the kids are in bed might work for you.
5. Steer clear of fad diet and ‘detox’ diets
Fad diets, e.g. ones suggesting you cut out a whole food group, or only eat green foods, are not sustainable and you could be missing out on important nutrients. Detox diets don’t work and could even be dangerous. See my previous post on detox diets for a full explanation.