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Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Healthy Eating Habits

You've heard about sustainable living? Well, we want you to think about sustainable dieting. That is, developing healthy eating habits that you can actually live with. 

Although it's tempting to succumb to the idea of dropping three dress sizes in as many days with the fad diet 'du jour' - be careful! You’re probably setting yourself up for disappointment.

Why? Because the results just don't last! Fad diets are hard to stick to, hard on your body, and even harder on your self-esteem when you ultimately slip back into your usual eating habits - (which most of us, inevitably, do). And since many of us actually put on more weight than what we originally lost, fad diets pose quite a high-risk, short-term solution.

So, what is the answer?

Eat a balanced diet, full of all the vitamins and nutrients you need for energy and vitality

Eat to live; move to lose. 

Eat a balanced diet, full of all the vitamins and nutrients you need for energy and vitality. Move to lose all of the excess calories that you would have otherwise stored as fat. Follow these principles - with a little help from Virgin Active Health Clubs - and pretty soon you’ll be on your way to the body of your dreams!

Calories in = calories out

To lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories than you burn in a day. Feel hungry just thinking about it? Well, before you resign yourself to the daily tedium of calorie counting and celery crunching, hit the gym instead! You’ll burn calories as you exercise, and you’ll build muscle - which will make you burn calories even while you’re resting. So sit back and watch the pounds melt away…

You are what you eat

The next time you’re tucking into a tub of ice cream; stop and consider this old adage for a minute. Not the most flattering of self-images, is it? And while everyone is allowed a few indulgences now and then, you need to make a conscious effort to fill the majority of your diet with good stuff. After all, the more low-fat, healthy foods you consume, the more low-fat and healthy you’ll look!

Downsize me

Decrease your portion size = decrease your dress size. It’s an easy equation to make! Many of us eat much larger portion sizes than we need. And ironically, although we are sometimes overfed, we are often undernourished when the food we eat is packed with 'empty calories'. Just by cutting your portion size (without even looking at the content of your diet) can have a dramatic slimming effect, but you should try to keep a healthy balance of meat, veg and carbs. The general rule of thumb is a portion of protein (eg. meat) the size of your palm, a carbohydrate portion (eg. potato) the size of your fist – and plenty of veg to fill the gap!

Know your enemies

We've all got our 'downfall food'. And it’s those weaknesses that you need to look at most seriously - either by giving them up or seriously cutting down. If chocolate is the vice that you just can’t live without, restrict yourself to one or two squares a day to get your fix. If cheese is a part of every meal usually, instead make it a treat once a day - and opt for low fat options.

Eat s-l-o-w-l-y

Eating slowly gives your brain the opportunity to sense the food entering your body and register fullness. So take your time to enjoy each and every bite! The problem with eating on the run is that you're less aware of what you're eating, which means you’re not able to enjoy it as much. This means you feel less satisfied - which then makes you more inclined to snack.

Fight your sweet tooth

Don’t feed it! Having a sweet 'little something' after your meal or as a snack in between meals is just a habit, not a physiological need. Try replacing the need for 'afters' with something less harmful, like low-fat yoghurts, fruit, malt loaf, or even a fruit tea. Once you break out of the cycle of expecting something sweet to finish every meal, you’ll find your cravings gradually fade away!

Eat only when you’re hungry

Are you hungry or just a bit peckish? Differentiating between hunger and appetite is vital to any change in eating habits – and just because something smells or looks good, doesn't mean your body actually needs food. Hunger is the true physiological need for nutrition, whereas appetite is a desire to eat, which has nothing to do with need. Most of our eating is driven by appetite, or because we are conditioned to eat at certain mealtimes. So listen to your body and only eat when you’re hungry!

Don’t shop on empty

The first rule of food shopping - never go shopping when you're hungry! It makes everything you see mouth-wateringly delicious and your willpower will simply melt away. Instead, go food shopping after you've just eaten. This way, you won’t be tempted by the bad stuff, and more likely to just pick up the essentials - instead of anything and everything in sight!

Detox your kitchen - detox your body

If it’s in your kitchen cupboards, it's taunting you daily with the possibility of eating it. And that’s enough to wear down even the best of us eventually! So - throw out the deep fryer. Get rid of the cookies and crisps. And lose the sweets and chocolates. If they're not there, you can’t eat them! Instead, stock up on plenty of healthy snack stuff, plus lots of ingredients that are easy to prepare in a hurry.

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