Eating smart means that you can still enjoy delicious food without the deprivation. Here’s how you can eat up while you slim down.
1. CHOOSE A PLAN FOR YOU
Don’t set yourself up for failure before you even start by following a plan with food that doesn’t appeal to you. People you know may be raving about Banting, but if you love fruit and don’t eat much meat, you’re probably not going to be happy with it. A good way to judge is to compare the list of forbidden foods on various diets (unfortunately, most ban ice cream and cake, but some do offer substitutes). Then choose one that sounds well-balanced and possible to live with.
2. DON’T SKIP BREAKFAST
With our busy lifestyles, it’s so easy to dash out in the morning after gulping down a hasty coffee, and nothing else. But skipping a meal won’t aid weight loss because it sends the body a star-vation signal, so it starts stockpiling fat for future fuel instead of burning it up. Research has shown you need to eat within an hour of waking to give your body the right signals. It’s unrealistic to prepare a cooked breakfast every morning, so cook your oats ahead and divide the porridge into daily portions that can be quickly and easily reheated. If you really can’t face a meal so early, at least have some fruit, and take a more substantial portion of food to have at teatime at work.
3. DRINK MORE WATER
This is not to make you feel unnaturally full, although some diets do suggest drinking a glass of water half an hour before a meal. But the benefits are greater – water flushes out toxins and waste from your body, actively aiding your metabolism. When your body is dehydrated, you lack energy, so you may feel you need more food (or be tempted to eat junk food for a quick energy boost). Your body also holds on to water when dehydrated, making you feel bloated and puffy. So sip away!
4. SNACK SENSIBLY
Plenty of diets encourage snacking to keep hunger at bay and to keep the metabolism active. So within the guidelines of your eating plan, work out a few snacks that will get you through that mid-afternoon slump. Fruit is a handy portable snack – an apple or banana provides natural sugar for energy and fibre to fill you up. Other snacks that will give you a boost are a handful of nuts (raw, not roasted and salted!) or a hard-boiled egg. Make sure you always have an alternative to the ever-enticing check-out queue temptations.
5. FIND YOUR FAVOURITE FAT-FIGHTING FOODS
There are so many foods that have metabolism-boosting ingredients: Spinach, chilli, asparagus, celery, apple cider vinegar, green tea, fish, chicken and pork, beans, chickpeas and lentils, to name but a few, so use the ones you really enjoy. Many herbs and spices pack a punch – cinnamon helps prevent sugar cravings, and turmeric and ginger also provide a metabolism boost, so curry should feature on your diet menu – just serve it with brown rice or quinoa. A varied diet will help you persevere.