Ho, ho, ho! – Healthy Christmas Eating

Managing your weight is particularly relevant at this time of year, especially if you are amongst the millions of people who tend to over do it a bit in December.  It has been estimated that over the two days of Christmas, the average person eats over 11,000 calories. That’s almost three times the norm so no wonder you might end up carrying a few extra pounds.  

Feeling trim can help boost confidence, but I do worry that many of us are slaves to weight, especially when we have a distorted view of how we should look. Remember that if you want to lose weight, keep your goals reasonable as disappointment and frustration are the death of a good diet.  
 
Aside from aesthetic reasons, being overweight or obese can contribute to the incidence of cancers, and is the second most likely cause of death after smoking so if you need to lose weight, then now’s the time.  
 
Having a clear goal is in mind can help, and so It’s worth working out what your Body Mass Index. The standard way of working this out is your weight in kilos divided by the square of your height in metres.  A score of up to 25 is considered ‘normal’, 25 – early 30’s ‘overweight’ and anything over that makes one officially ‘obese’.  If you have access to a body fat monitor then this will also give a clearer idea of what percentage of your body is made from fat, which is in many ways a more appropriate method of gauging what you need to lose.  
 
There are many ways to lose weight, but it’s hard to keep it off unless the change has been made to your lifestyle.  The word ‘diet’ implies something short term, with a return being made to your usual eating habits afterwards, so make changes that ensure a healthy approach to permanent weight loss.  The list is endless, but if you make weight loss your sole aim you are likely to fail, but by making good health your aim, then you are far more likely to achieve your goals.  But which plan do you adopt given that there are so many to choose from, even some with celebrity endorsement these days.  
 
The calorie controlled diets work on the theory that if input of food exceeds output of energy then you will gain weight. However the problem with such programmes is that they are hard to sustain, and the success is closely linked to the amount of exercise you undertake, your genetic makeup and dieting history. Added to this, the body frustratingly has a number of mechanisms for holding on to fat.  
 
There are many theories about weight loss but from experience here at the clinic, working with thousands of clients over the years, the ratio of carbohydrate to protein and fat is perhaps the most effective way to lose weight and, more importantly, to keep it off.  The International Journal of Obesity, not my usual bedtime reading I must point out, published a study in which those on a moderate fat diet ( ie fat totalling around 20 % )  actually lost weight and kept it off, as opposed to those on lower fat diets who did lose weight but then regained it.   I do not recommend very low fat diets as aside from the important role that fat plays in the body, some fat is needed to provide satisfaction when eating.  
 
So, what do you do then?   Here are my guidelines for losing weight effectively :-  
  1. Eat little and often.
  2. Include protein, complex carbohydrates, some fat and fibre at every meal or snack.
  3. The ratio of 30% lean protein ( fish, poultry, tofu ), 40% complex carbohydrates ( brown rice, vegetables, fruits, )  and 20% ‘good’ fats ( fish oil, olive oil, nuts, seeds and their oils ) is the basic rule of thumb.
  4. Do not follow high anything diets.
  5. Weight loss programmes without exercise are unlikely to succeed.
  6. Don’t set unrealistic goals for yourself.
  7. Avoid saturated fats, refined sugars and processed foods.
  8. It is worth remembering that there are influences on weight such as underactive thyroid, bacterial imbalances and hormonal issues, so if you find that you cannot lose weight then consult a nutrition therapist who will help you achieve your goals.
  9. If you have issues emotional around food, such as comfort eating, then address these separately with an appropriate professional.
  10. Remember that alcohol is not going to do you many favours, especially as more than one glass can break even the strongest resolve.        

Blog Re-Posted from The Food Doctor 
You can follow The Food Doctor on Facebook for more lifestyle advice and healthy recipes: The Food Doctor

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