Smart Nutrition can make all the difference
There is so much nutrition and healthy eating advice around and it can get confusing and overwhelming. I always try to keep it simple. I tend to judge mine off that I must be doing alright as I very rarely get ill, my weight generally stays about the same which I do think gets harder as you get older. I think my skin and hair tell a lot. I have had problems with my hair falling out in the past and that has linked to when I have had things going on in my life oh and the years of straightening which I am currently trying to correct with the curly girl method. Anyone with naturally curly hair will feel my pain!! When you turn 40 you get the lovely little letter in the post asking you to go for a health check. I must admit I did feel a bit nervous about this as it was kind of a way of proving if what I say and practice works. I passed with flying colours and don’t have to have another until I am 45 so a bit to go yet.
Drink Lots Of Water
Anyway back to the basics of healthy eating. One of the things I go on and on about is drinking water. This is the easiest and cheapest change you can make. I don’t drink bottled water so just turn on the tap. Dehydration will impact your performance in your daily life and if you work out in the gym – research indicates that 5% dehydration can lead to 30% drop in function. This can also affect the way your body stores fat and repairs muscles. Water benefits your body so much, I will go into that more another time so moving on.
Eat Your Greens
Try to include some colourful vegetables in every meal. There is no such thing as too many vegetables. They are packed with vitamins, phytochemicals and fibre and will fill you up without sending your calories soaring. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, cabbage and cauliflower are ideal, although dark green leafy vegetables like spinach are also excellent. Regardless of what else you are eating your plate should be about half full of vegetables at every meal. If you have a child that isn’t keen on vegetables hide them in sauces by blending them. Its amazing what you can get away with by hiding them in a tomato based sauce. Mash a bit of swede in with your potatoes. Fruit is also excellent for you, just be aware of the sugar content (fructose) I would try to limit to two or three pieces a day.
Pack The Protein
Protein is one of the most important components of the diet – it’s crucial to building muscle, keeps you feeling full, helps repair tissue and the immune system. It also provides energy. Aim to eat a wide variety of protein foods to get the full range of muscle-building amino acids – lean meat, fish, eggs and dairy produce are excellent sources of protein. Protein can also be found in nuts, seeds and beans. Include a fist-sized amount of protein at every meal.
Include Energy Fuelled Carbohydrates
This is always quite a hot topic as many people who are trying to lose weight want to massively reduce their carbohydrate intake. It is your choice, but I personally really like my carbs and its all about which carbohydrates you consume. Carbohydrates form the foundation of a healthy diet, providing a readily available source of energy. Carbohydrates are broken down by our bodies into glucose for energy and they come in two forms – complex carbohydrates which are known as the slow releasing form. Foods containing these are whole grains, vegetables and fresh fruit. These slow down the release of the sugar/glucose into the blood stream. Simple carbohydrates known as the fast releasing ones are found in sweets, biscuits, cakes and refined flour, white pasta. So it is about choosing the right ones and I am not saying never eat cake again as I couldn’t do that, its about moderation.
Don’t Avoid Fats
Although it might seem contradictory to eat fat when you are trying to lose fat, dietary fats are by no means bad. The ones to avoid or reduce are trans fats, aim to keep your saturated fat intake low. This means being aware of how many cakes, biscuits, red meats and cheese you have. The fats you need are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, found in olive oil, nuts, seeds and oily fish. These include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which have been proven to aid strength and aerobic training, protect the body from injuries and help it recover from wear and tear.
This is the simplest rule when deciding what to eat, keep it natural. Processed foods – biscuits, cakes, ready meals, fizzy drinks, crisps are mostly high in calories, but low in essential nutrients, so they are poor at refuelling, but good at increasing your weight and zapping your energy. Try to avoid foods containing preservatives and things you can not spell is an easy way at looking at it or things that you wouldn’t keep in your kitchen. Eat things that will rot eventually, so you know they are fresh. As a general rule, if it grows in the ground or used to have a face its fine. If it comes in a packet be wary. Don’t beat yourself up if have an odd ready meal I am realistic and understand how busy some people are. This is when preparation works well.
As you can see it isn’t difficult I don’t count calories, but I am aware I do need to burn off what goes in and if more goes in than what I burn off then my weight will go up. I try not to eat late and I do try to do some form of exercise each day and some days this can be just 10 minutes hula hooping or 15 minutes of yoga. Every little bit counts. I am not into gyms and never have been, but some people going to a gym gives them focus and motivation it’s whatever works for you.