Start the New Year with Bhavash Padhiar’s top tips to eating well…
The new year brings with it the promises of getting in shape, new gym memberships and reaching the fitness goals that were actually set a few January’s back. The multitude of celebrity fitness videos and diet plans are back on TV and social media promising a new and improved regime that’s easier to follow and burns off those pesky Christmas calories quicker than ever before.
However no amount of exercise will offset all the cake, chocolates and salty starchy snacks that you consume. I’m not suggesting to follow any new fad diet but to concentrate on changing your eating habits to something that helps you to get in shape, become healthier whilst still enjoying the occasional treat. We all know that your first and only gym session won’t give you a flat stomach and rock hard abs. Why do we expect that from a diet plan? Truth is that most diet plans do not work as usually the initial ego boosting weight loss is just water content and fast weight loss usually manifests itself as rebound weight gain. Simply improving the balance of food you eat will improve the way you feel about the way you look. It’s not the miracle quick fix but it is long term healthy and sustainable. Here are my top tips to eating well and still enjoy some of the naughty indulgences without the regret. Remember abs are made in the kitchen, not at the gym.
1. Eat More…
… fresh vegetables. Green leafy salads, beans and pulses are a fantastic source of nutrition and fibre without loading up on fat creating carbohydrates. A couple of rules of (green) thumb to help you decide on low carb vegetables are firstly, the darker and greener the vegetable, the lower carb it is. Vegetables are very carbohydrate heavy at the lowest parts of the plant, like roots, bulbs and anything you have to dig out of the ground and carb light at the uppermost parts of the plant like its leaves and flowers. Follow those simple rules so you won’t have to memorise an encyclopedia of vegetable nutritional values.
2. Cereal Killers
Weetabix, Ready Brek and pretty much everything from Mr Kellogg was the staple of my mornings as a child until I was at university and then in traditional student fashion, breakfast was usually a cold pizza. Breakfast cereals and in particular those marketed for children have recently come under scrutiny and criticism for being excessively sugary and having a very high carbohydrate content. It is one of the contributing factors to childhood obesity and diabetes. Even many of the adult breakfast cereals have a very high sugar and carbohydrate content including some that have healthy and weight loss connotations. The health claims of fortified with vitamins is just an addition of vitamins to misdirect you from the not so healthy sugar content. A 30g bowl of corn flakes has a glycemic index equivalent to a massive 33.6g of sugar as demonstrated by Dr Unwin’s infograph below.
3. The Shape Of You
Ed Sheeran had the right idea. Aim for the shape that you love. Generally losing weight will give you a slimmer profile. However, making informed food choices and lots of exercise will also give you a slimmer profile but your weight will not change so much. This is because that whilst your body fat levels are decreasing, you are building much healthier lean muscle mass which is 15-20% heavier than fat. I personally believe that you should aim for the shape you feel happy with regardless of how much you weigh. Most bodybuilders have a body mass index that would normally have their doctor prescribing statins and blood pressure pills. It has been proposed that a healthy shape is when the circumference of your waist is 50% of your height.
4. Downsize Your Portions
It is not that long ago that most fast food companies were blasted for encouraging customers to supersize their meals for only a few pence extra. You could downsize your portion a little and save a few pence. Oversized plates can make even a large portion of food look meagre. Serve your food in smaller plates which look full with less food to give your eyes the impression you’re having a bigger meal satisfying your hunger with less food. A glass of water before your meals helps to fill you up prior to eating.
5. Take Your Time
Take time to savour and enjoy your meal. You will find that you feel fuller before you’ve finished your meal. Also take your time to get in shape with your healthy eating. Just as you will not have a flat tummy and six pack after your very first gym session, losing weight and toning up your body should be a slow and gradual process to allow your body to adjust to its new shape and dietary intake. This should prevent the rebound food cravings and allow you to maintain a healthier shape for longer with ease.
Written By: Bhavash Padhiar
A pharmacist with over two decades of clinical experience – ranging from working in hospitals and serious injury units to owning an NHS pharmacy – Wimblederm founder Bhavash Padhiar has expertise in medicine, clinical pharmacy and advanced medispa treatments.