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Top tips to stay on track with your healthy eating lifestyle without restricting yourself.

Updated: Mar 5

A picture of fruit and vegetables next to a notebook on a table that you never get too hungry

When you get too hungry you make poor decisions because your judgment is compromised. If you skip meals you will be playing catch up for the rest of the day and will tend to choose those unnecessary sweet treats around 4pm. To avoid this plan your meals and snacks throughout the day, which will help, abolish that insatiable hunger. Healthy eating will go astray if you do not plan! Planning is crucial to staying on track and reaching your goals.

Portion sizes are key!

You can still put on weight with eating an array of healthy food so this is why portion sizes are so important. This is often the most difficult task to grasp and is best aided my seeing a dietitian. A general rule however, is the plate model. Ensure half of your plate is full of non-starchy vegetables (lettuce, broccoli, capsicum, eggplant, zucchini etc.), one-quarter wholegrain and quality carbohydrates (multi-grain breads, quinoa, brown rice, sweet potato etc.), and one-quarter quality lean meat (chicken breast, fish, steak, lean mince etc.) or a quality protein source if you are vegetarian (tofu, legumes, quinoa). Serve your portion away from the dinner table so that you can’t go back for seconds.

Stay hydrated!

Drinking sufficient water is crucial for healthy body functioning and metabolism so make sure you get enough of it. Often we can misinterpret thirst for hunger so ensure you always carry a bottle of water around with you. Aim for 30ml of water per 1kg of bodyweight per day and as a general rule add an extra litre for every hour of intense exercise, if you are a heavy sweater you may need more so drink to thirst.

Add some spice to your food!

Adding spices such as chilli has not only been shown to boost metabolism but has been shown to curb hunger, according to a study in the British Journal of Nutrition. Additionally, scientists at the State University of New York at Buffalo found that capsaicin (a compound found in chillies) triggers your brain to release feel-good endorphins. A productive metabolism, full belly and a good mood? Pass the hot sauce!

Ditch all soft drink - diet & full sugar.

We all know that soft drink if full of calories and sugar making it a poor choice for our teeth and to reduce our waistlines. However, evidence has also emerged about diet soft drinks being a poor choice to reduce our waistlines. A University of Texas Health Science Center study found that the more diet soft drink a person drank, the greater their risk of becoming overweight. Downing just two or more cans a day increased waistlines by 500%. Why? Artificial sweeteners can disrupt the body’s natural ability to regulate calorie intake based on the sweetness of foods, suggested an animal study from Purdue University. That means people who consume diet foods might be more likely to overeat, because your body is being tricked into thinking it’s eating sugar, and you crave more. A separate study found that even just one diet soft drink a day is linked to a 34% higher risk of metabolic syndrome, the group of symptoms including belly fat, high cholesterol and high blood pressure that puts you at risk for heart disease. Whether that link is attributed to an ingredient in diet soft drink or the drinkers’ eating habits is unclear. But is that one can really worth it? If you do want an occasional soft drink that is ok but only indulge once every so often not everyday.

Vary your diet

Vary your diet and consume an array of different fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, protein and healthy fats. This will ensure that you get all the nutrients you require for healthy body functioning. If you are unsure about the nutritional quality of your diet your dietitian can help.

Take your time when eating, be mindful & choose your environment wisely

Your environment when eating plays a huge role on how much you will eat.

Snacks: Stop eating standing up at the kitchen bench. This is an easy way to overindulge on those snacks. Instead sit down at a table and make an herbal tea and portion out your snacks.

At work: Do not each lunch at your desk! Taking a break at lunchtime even if it is only 10 minutes is extremely important to recharge your mind, a healthy mind also leads to healthier food choices plus will enable you to be more productive at work. Even if you have deadlines you need to take this break. Be mindful when eating, enjoy every mouth full and chew don’t just swallow. Put your fork down between bites and don’t eat another mouthful before you have finished the last. Enjoy the textures and flavours of the food you are eating and foster a relaxing environment rather than eating on the run. Take your time! Research from The University of Rhode Island has shown that faster eaters are often heavier than their slower counterparts. It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to send a message to your brain that you have eaten enough and are satisfied. If you rush your meal and eat rapidly, your body’s satiety cues won’t be tuned in to those feelings of fullness yet and it’s easier to overeat.

Outsmart your hunger hormone

Even the most motivated and focused dieter will struggle to be successful at weight loss once hunger takes over. Our bodies secrete a hormone called ghrelin, which controls hunger and drives our appetite. If we don’t understand, monitor, and control our ghrelin, we can forget about losing weight. Science tells us that the best way to control ghrelin is to eat small, balanced meals about every 3 hours or so. That’s because ghrelin will spike after about 3 to 4 hours of fasting, so eating with regularity helps keep this eating trigger at bay. Ghrelin will also spike if we’re deprived of carbs, so it’s important to give our bodies and brains the carb fuel they need. When we skip meals or avoid carbs, we’re inviting ghrelin to spike, which increases and makes us feel emotionally hungry. It makes us crave sugar and can derail even the healthiest eating routine. Manuel Villacorta, RD, author of Eating Free: The Carb-Friendly Way to Lose Inches

Don’t deprive yourself

Any super strict dieting regime will most likely eventuate in that weight coming back on. Think about a lifestyle change rather than a diet. Make your food enjoyable and tasty so that you are satisfied and don’t crave unhealthy foods. Treat yourself with your favourite food or drink once a while, but eat or drink it slowly, really enjoying every mouthful. Remember all foods and beverages are ok in moderation.

Interested in seeing a dietitian?

A dietitian is a great accessory to have to help you lose those unwanted kilos or achieve muscle gain. Not only can they help you design nutritionally adequate diets to support metabolism and healthy body functioning, but they can keep you motivated along the way and help you reach your physical & health goals.

Book your appointment online or pop into the clinic, located within Ascot Vale Leisure Centre.

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