Before you embark on a summer calorie crackdown do remember that bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Just because you don’t look like a catwalk model (and let’s face it, how many of us do?) does not mean you aren't healthy, or beautiful! Dieting can be really hard, and it’s very tempting to opt for one of the myriad of fad diets that promise incredible results with almost no effort. The facts are that very few of these work in the long term, and some can really adversely affect your health. To lose weight sustainably remember: Eat healthy, don't starve. Eat for your body type and lifestyle.
Some tips to help you on your way:
1) Think about your portions. Often when people are struggling to lose weight, their portion size is the real culprit. Even when you’re eating healthily, it is easy to eat too much. Working out how many calories you need in a day can be quite tricky. For me, the 2000 a day guideline for women results in me piling on the pounds! The best guide for whether you’re consuming the right number is your weight. Keeping a food diary for a few days can help you to work out how many calories on average you eat, if you put on weight then you need to cut some out. Portion control is really useful for dieting because you still eat regular meals and, over time, you find that you don’t want as much food as your body adjusts. Reducing the size of all your meals is far more sustainable than just skipping one!
2) Avoid “empty” calories – those that you don’t even enjoy that much when you’re consuming them. Before you decide to eat another piece of cake in the office, or just have one more biscuit, ask yourself - do I really want it? Eating when you’re already full is so easy to do. If you’re presented with a huge meal at a restaurant it is ok not to always finish it– no matter what your parents would think! Drinks, especially alcoholic ones, are another silent way to consume calories without even realising it. Sometimes even the “healthy” options are jam packed with sugar, so always check before you buy!
3) Get your five a day in. Don’t underestimate the importance of your fruit and veg! They are a great source of vitamins and minerals, they provide lots of fibre (helping you to feel full, promoting a healthy gut, AND preventing bowel cancer), they can help reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease and other cancers, and they are low in fat – which is great for dieting. What counts towards your 5 a day? The good news is that fruit and veg in virtually any form counts! As well as fresh fruit and veg you can count frozen, dried, canned, juiced, and fruit and veg that has been cooked into other dishes.
4) Active? Get those healthy whole grain carbs in! – Carbohydrates is a word that spreads fear in the hearts of sun pilgrims. Cutting them out though, is not a good plan. Instead, swap refined carbs such as white breads, rice and pasta, for whole grain alternatives. Complex carbs have been shown to cheer you up by promoting serotonin (the feel good chemical). People on a low carb diet were shown to experience more depression, anxiety and anger. Whole grain carbs help reduce body and belly fat in studies, alongside aiding with memory, and helping you to burn fat by helping to regulate insulin. Insulin regulates the sugar levels in your blood. After eating refined carbs, your sugar levels go up very quickly resulting in a large insulin spike. Insulin works by making cells in the liver, muscles, and fat tissue take up sugar from the blood, where it can be turned into complex sugar for storage, or fat. After whole grain carbs there is a much lower and slower increase in blood sugar, so less insulin is produced AND you have energy for longer.