Last week I promised you all a follow-up blog on eating to optimise health and weight loss - well here it is! If you feel like it's time you got off the weight fluctuation rollercoaster and are keen to eat your way to good health and optimum performance, read on. I'll add to this topic as the weeks go on but let's make a start...
As women, a lot of the time when we go on a 'diet' it's all about counting calories, not necessarily looking at where those calories are coming from and what kind of impact they'll have on our bodies. For example, if I eat half a packet of lollies, which equals 300 calories, will that have the same effect on my body as eating a baked salmon portion, also worth 300 calories? The answer is a big fat NO, of course. But why?
As I mentioned in last week's weight fluctuation post, it's important that we eat enough calories each day to keep our metabolisms ramped up and our bodies operating at their peak - if we don't do this our bodies go into 'starvation mode' and not only will your metabolism drop, so will your energy, immunity and drive to get out there and exercise! So here are a few simple rules to follow when your goal is to get healthy and slim, quick smart!
1) Avoid eating refined sugars altogether on most days of the week. Believe it or not, for most women it's sugar, not fat that will make your waistline blow out. Not only is excess sugar stored as fat in the body, high levels of simple carbs like those found in lollies, cakes, fruit juices, fizzy drinks, etc cause our insulin levels to skyrocket and then crash again, meaning you're not only sending your hormones off on a rollercoaster ride (helloooo moods!) but your blood sugar levels will inevitably crash, sending you running for more sweet treats that your bod just doesn't need. Add to this the fact that there are virtually no vitamins or essential nutrients in most simple carbs and it's easy to see why sugar is something you should cut from your diet quick-smart.
TRY: eliminating refined sugars (including the hidden ones found in sweetened 'low fat' dairy, white bread and pre-packaged snacks) from your diet for five consecutive days - you'll find that your cravings are drastically reduced after this amount of time!
2) Switch from processed foods to natural foods, ideally organic if you can. Processed and packaged foods cause hormone fluctuations that lead to excess fat storage, so eating them is effectively damaging your attempts to reach your goal weight.
TRY: shopping only around the perimeter of your local supermarket where the fruit, vegetables, lean proteins and natural foods are stored - as soon as you start heading down the aisles, that's where the packaged, processed foods that will try to throw you off your diet lurk. Avoid at all costs!
3) Assess your cupboard and if its contents aren't up to scratch, throw them out and start over! As a guide, your pantry/fridge should contain something similar to the following (and not much else!!)
- Loads of vegies, especially leafy greens - eat as many of these as you like, the more the merrier!
- Fresh fruit (but try to stick to two pieces a day if your aim is weight loss)
- Plenty of oily fish. Salmon and smaller fish like whiting, sardines, barramundi, etc are the best - eat these every day if you can but at least 3-4 times per week (nb: fresh tuna is not always the best option as it contains loads of mercury, which isn't the healthiest thing in the world for your bod, especially if you're trying to fall pregnant).
- Lean proteins like turkey, chicken, tofu, lean meats
- Eggs and low fat dairy (just be sure it's also low sugar! Less than 10g per 100g as a guide)
- Nuts and seeds; brazil nuts, walnuts, cashews and almonds are the best of the nuts and all seeds are great
- Lots of green tea, with the occassional dash of honey or a natural sweetener like Stevia for that sweet fix!
- If you're craving carbs, go with complex choices like multigrain or rye bread, brown rice, quinoa and wholemeal pasta
TRY: The "where did it come from?" rule. If you look at a food and can't instantly recognise where it came from or how it was made (i.e. an apple comes from a tree, milk from a cow), then don't eat it! Do you really have any concept of how that Allens Party Mix was created? From scratch? If you don't, throw it out).
4) Eat loads of "good" fats - that means things like avocados, oily fish, olive oil, seeds/nuts. These will help your body process and eliminate "bad" fats, keep your heart healthy and best of all, make your hair and skin glow!
TRY: Swapping butter for avocado and beef steak for salmon steak!
5) Eat on smaller plates, like salad plates. The larger the plate, the more likely you are to fill it up and for a lot of Aussie women the problem is not always what they're eating but just how much of it they eat!
TRY: Reducing your portion sizes by a third, then waiting 20 minutes after you finish eating to see whether you're still hungry. If you are, have another serve but for most of us, that initial portion will be more than enough.
That's enough for today everyone, enjoy your new excuse to go shopping ;)