I've encountered numerous people that after I've told them I studied nutrition, they ask "so how do I lose weight?" or "how do i get healthy?". It is difficult question to answer as there is no set formula that will guarantee your weight loss or magic that will let it happen overnight. Our bodies are all different - height, weight, muscle mass, metabolic rates on and on... Our response to food are also influenced by factors such as ethnicity, age, gender, health beliefs, living arrangements, knowledge, finances and even your typical day.
The starting point is always the most challenging but seeing an Accredited Practising Dietitian may help you figure out where to begin. But if I were to compile a list of ideas and tips on how you can kick-off your journey, here is my top 10 list.
1. Spreading your meals across the day
It may not seem like it, but it is actually very easy to forget to eat when you're busy or wake up late and miss breakfast. When you miss your meals, you are more likely to eat more than the average portion because of your hunger. Irregular meals can also negatively influence your body clock or how your food is metabolized.
2. Balanced meals including a variety of all food groups.
Eating from the five food groups ensure your body is nourished with the nutrient and vitamins it needs. You can refer to the Australian Guide To Healthy Eating - you can find this under 'Resources' on our website.
3. Avoid eating processed foods and sugar drinks.
Processed meats such as ham, salami, bacon are foods high in sodium which has an effect on your blood pressure (hypertension) and increase risk of cardiovascular disease. Research has also shown that it contains chemicals that may be carcinogenic and linked with increased risk of cancer. Sugar drinks such as soft drinks, energy drinks are high in sugar which contributes to weight gain and obesity, a leading risk factor for diabetes.
4. Plan and prepare your meals on the weekend.
If you're a full-time worker or student, you may not have the time to do grocery shopping throughout the week and may not have the energy to think about your dinner by the time you're home. You could save time by planning our your meals and do the grocery shopping on the weekends. You may also choose to prepare your meals in advance (or meal prep we would call it) and freeze them so they are ready to go once you get home.
5. Bring lunch to work/school.
If your family cooked extra the night before, take it with you for lunch the next day. This can save money and is also a healthy alternative as food purchased outside often contain hidden additives.
6. Get active at least 4 - 5 times a week.
You could go to the gym, attend exercise classes or go for a hike. If you're someone with a busy work lifestyle, you could incorporate some exercises in your daily routine. For example, get off a station earlier and walk the rest, walk to the station instead of driving, take a walk during your lunch break.
7. Drink adequate amounts of water.
On average, you should be drinking minimum 2 liters of water (8 glasses) daily but may differ depending on your height/weight. Sometimes the sensation of hunger may be caused by dehydration. Tip: Drinking adequate amounts of water is also very good for your skin as well!
8. Drink a glass of water before you meals.
Like I mentioned above, dehydration can make you feel hungry. As a result, you may end up eating more than you need.
9. Eat your meals without any distractions such as TV, electronic devices.
When you're distracted by your surroundings, you are more likely to ignore the signals that your body is sending i.e. feeling of satiety and thus overeat.
10. Share and enjoy your new lifestyle with friends and family.
Enjoying the journey with people around you will encourage you to sustain this healthy lifestyle for the long term. Personally, I enjoy exercising with friends and sharing recipe ideas makes the process more fun.