For long term success, think of your wellbeing in terms of adopting a healthy lifestyle rather than being on a diet. Diets don't work long term and people often put more weight back on than they lost having been on a diet due to leptin, the hormone that regulates fat storage. It can be all too easy to get caught up in the latest fads and forget about taking responsibility for your eating habits and long term health.
- Adopt the 80/20 rule, and by this I mean eat healthily 80% of the time and then have a treat at the weekend. Of course, this is not a license to go crazy as it’s all about moderation but it will help you to maintain a happy mindset which is the key to successful weight loss long term. It’s all about consistency. If you deny yourself your favourite foods and see them as being 'banned' they will, sooner or later, seem too irresistible and you will then just overeat them. It's all about balance. If you know you are going out for a meal for a special occasion, look forward to it, make a conscious decision to enjoy it and make sure you savour every mouthful!
- Plan ahead. Plan your meals for the week and make a shopping list. This will save time and money by avoiding unnecessary trips to the supermarket and you will avoid temptation too
- Batch cooking - spend a couple of hours at the weekend batch cooking some foods so that you have some healthy combinations that can just be used together during the week. Also double up on your supper and then you have a meal for the next day.
- Keep a variety of healthy, wholesome foods that you like at home so that you make it as easy as possible to keep to a healthy eating plan. Aim for 8-10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, made up mostly of vegetables as fruit contains fructose and, although it is a natural sugar, it is still sugar so limit your intake to 2 pieces a day
- Remove any unhealthy foods from your cupboards so that you aren't tempted to just grab something when you are hungry
- Minimise your alcohol intake and avoid sports drinks and sugary drinks. These contain empty calories and so it can be very easy to consume too many calories. In addition, drinking alcohol will reduce your willpower (1)
- Keep hydrated - aim for 1½ -2 litres of water a day. Mild dehydration can be mistaken for hunger and make you feel sluggish, so don’t confuse hunger with thirst and drink a glass of water before grabbing a snack (2)
- Eat breakfast and never skip meals. This will keep hunger at bay and balance your blood sugar levels. Research shows that people who eat breakfast tend to have a more balanced diet overall. Try to include protein in every meal which will keep you satisfied for longer (3)
- Exercise regularly to keep your metabolism high. You are likely to burn more fat exercising before a meal than after so have a quick walk or run before lunch. Research shows that exercise boosts mood by releasing feel-good hormones such as serotonin and will also help to keep you motivated. Also, if you eat healthily, you will be more inclined to want to exercise or go for a walk. So, in short, just get moving even if that means walking - aim for 10,000 steps every day and use a fitness tracker to keep you on target (4)
- Get enough sleep. Seven even to eight hours’ sleep will help you to cope with stress and also lower cortisol levels. Lack of sleep can often result in a craving for carbohydrates and sugary foods and hence lead to poor food choices (5)
- Manage your stress levels. Practice some relaxation techniques. Stress releases cortisol which may increase your appetite for carbohydrate and sugary foods, and high stress levels are associated with abdominal weight gain (6)
You are what you eat. So, Eat Well, Live Well