Pretty much everywhere you look you’re likely to find some form of magic tea, pill or diet plan that claims to let you lose at least a stone a week. Now don’t get me wrong, maybe some of it does work, though obviously I am a tad sceptical. What does appear to be true is that there is a complete abundance, bombardment even, telling us what or what not to eat. As a result, it’s no wonder that many people find themselves completely unable to shift the weight or stick to anything longer than a week. In my eyes, we are completely overwhelmed with information, but starved of any actual honest help. To put it simply, like most of society, food has now become a lucrative market, allowing companies to earn millions selling us a multitude of products boasting titles such as ‘low carb’ ‘high protein’ ‘sugar free’ ‘detox’ … the list goes on.
I myself have definitely fallen victim to the scam that is nutrition, supermarkets are just so plentiful with so many different possibilities that I found myself guilty of overindulging on a few too many biscuits and reaching for a couple of supposed ‘health bars’ in an attempt to ‘balance’ my diet. But, it wasn’t until last summer that I realised I really needed a lifestyle overhaul, I was tired, lethargic and suffering from a number of digestive issues and discomforts that literally sent me to bed bloated and crying many a night. It was only through hours of research and what felt like days in front of a computer screen that I started to finally understand what it actually meant to nourish your body and live a healthy life with an actual balanced diet. So, for anyone out there who is struggling to make sense of food, let me give you five tips that helped me battle the bulge:
FAT DOES NOT MAKE YOU FAT!!!!!!! Sorry for the capitals haha! But seriously, I hear this far too many times in a day. Girls reaching for low fat products because they want to watch their weight. Honestly, don’t bother, those ‘low fat’ brownies really aren’t going to help your weight in the slightest. Fat is actually crucial for the body and is what helps give feelings of satiation, allowing us to feel fuller for longer, therefore snacking less. So stock up on some healthier fats like avocados, nut butters, seeds and greek yoghurt.
Watch your sugar intake. Sugar is what makes you fat. No really, I’m not kidding. Don’t believe me – there are many documentaries out there proving this very fact. The BBC even did a recent one called “The Truth about Sugar” if you want to check it out. Sugar, if not used up by the body, is what is stored as fat. And I don’t just mean the sugar you put in your tea or in the biscuits you eat. Sugar is literally everywhere, even in places you may not realise like pasta sauces, white carbohydrates (pasta, rice and potatoes) or microwave meals. To combat this I recommend reading labels of foods, and be careful as sugar can be disguised under a variety of misleading names like high-fructose corn syrup, fructose, dextrose and corn syrup (these are just a few there are a lot more)
Because of this, one of the best tips I’ve learned is to abide by the five ingredient check. So, on any label you look at see if there are 1) more than five ingredients and 2) if you actually know what each ingredient is. If the product fails either of these two tests, don’t buy it – simple!
A plate should be balanced. I absolutely hate it when I hear people talk about excluding entire food groups from their diets; denying your body from something crucial is not going to give you the figure you desire. I have unfortunately learned this the hard way – no carb diets are both awful and dangerous!! Instead, try and have about half of your plate made up of vegetables, a small fistful of protein, tablespoon of fat and a quarter of the plate should be carbohydrates (preferably wholegrains).
DRINK WATER! Aim for around two litres a day, and sometimes more if you are working out. Drinking water regularly will also help you to learn the difference between being hungry and thirsty, something which definitely allowed me to shed some extra belly fat.
To make things even simpler try sticking by the simple rule of shopping only in the periphery of a supermarket, sticking to fresh produce and wholegrains. When nutrition has become a competition, maybe the best thing we can all do is to opt out of the business of brands and learn to go back to basics with food – because less in this case, really is more.