Essential advice before starting a diet

Despite the plethora of information about dieting, millions of people find it difficult to loose weight when they are over weight.

Many people are unaware that to loose weight, you must eat healthily, and adopt good eating habits which need to be maitained throughout your life.

To eat well, meals must be varied and the food proportions well balanced.

More than 70% of the people beginning a diet succeed in losing weight for a few months, and even longer. But more than 90% of the lost kilos lost are regained at the end of a few months or years and sometimes even more.

Have a balanced diet, of 3 healthy meals a day. Avoid missing meals and take regular exercise. These are key factors in loosing weight and not regaining any lost.

Miracle diets do not exist

There are many claims and marketing strategies that claim you can "loose weight in 8 days with no effort" or "lose 10 kilos in one month and never regain them".

There are no miracle diets and a common problem is that it can lead to more weight being put on and over time, becoming obese.

Acquire good eating habits: changes should be life long

  • A healthy, well balanced diet are the fundamental principles to good nutrition.
  • Eating and liking a good variety of foods is essential.
  • Not regaining the weight lost requires a definitive change in eating habits:

For example; people with high blood pressure, diabetics, allergic people, asthmatics, or those who suffer from a chronic disease often follow diet regimes for years and for some throughout their entire life. Changes MUST be life long so as to avoid 'yo yo' diets and fluctuating weight gain problems.

Changing bad eating habits must be permanent.

Be patient.....aim to loose no more than a kilo per week

Weight loss should not exceed 1 kg (2lb) per week, that is to say 4 to 5 kilos (8 - 10lb) per month. In losing more than is recomended you risk regaining the weight quickly again.
A weight loss of 500 g to 1 kilo (1 - 2lb) per week remains a reasonable objective and is advised by most doctors and dieticians

Never forget that weight loss is a primary goal but the most important point is to be able to stabilise it in order not to regain the kilos.

Do not ban or limit foods

There is no magic food to lose weight.

Banning certain foods presents feelings of desire, guilt and frustration. It often causes a sudden urge to eat the food which has been stopped and binge eating occurs, where large amounts of food is eaten, but in much greater quantities than before starting the diet.

Limiting your diet to one type of food only is also unrealistic . For example, a diet based on cabbage soup 3 times per day mean you miss out on vital vitamins from eating other foods which can cause nutritional deficiencies.

Ask for medical advice

Have a chat with your GP or dietician about loosing weight and certain diets. They will help to motivate you, monitor your weight and offer support and advice along the way.

You can also consider consulting with a nutritionist.

Adopt new life long changes you can commit to

Eating a well balanced, varied and healthy diet should be a life long commitment. Starving ourselves of food is unhealthy and leave us feeling hungry therefore more likely to turn to the wrong foods.

Take your time and eat slowly

Do not rush your meals, take your time and enjoy each mouthful, savouring the tastes and textures of your food.
  • The chewing time plays an important role in the digestive process. The feeling of satiety reaches the brain in about 15 to 20 minutes . Eating quickly does not give the stomach enough time to feel full and be satisfied so as a result you eat more.
  • The taste buds transmit messages to the brain which then sends a message to the stomach and intestines. When we chew and eat our food too quickly, the signals are poorly transmitted to the brain, which as a result the brain sends poor messages to the digestive system, thus hindering digestion.
  • Small mouthfuls with one or two things to eat at a time.
  • Eating is more enjoyable and the flavours intense when you eat slowly.
  • Put your knife and fork down in between each mouthful, this helps to slow things down.
  • Take an extra 10 minutes at each meal.

Avoid distractions whilst eating

  • Concentrate on your food rather than doing other things that may distract you. As a result you will allow for better digestion and less likely to eat more.
  • Do not eat while watching television for example.

Try new foods or some old ones you haven't had for a while

Many people enjoy trying new foods or discover recipes for foods they haven't eaten for a while. For example the taste of French beans, fennel, broccolis, courgettes and spinach.

Weight gain after weight loss

Once you have lost the weight you wanted, relapses can occur. Accept things gracefully and learn how to regain control and loose those extra pounds gained, avoid letting the weight gain spiral out of control.

Five a day

Increase your portions of fruit and vegetables , at least to 5 per day, snack on fruit if you feel hungry.

Have a proper breakfast

  • A proper breakfast must contribute to at least 20% of your daily amount in calories, which is unfortunately far from being the case for most people.
  • Make time to have breakfast by waking up 10 minutes earlier.
  • Choose foods for breakfast that will keep you satisfied into the late morning. For example: milk or dairy products such as yogurt or cottage cheese, fruit juice or piece of fruit, a slice of ham, wholemeal bread and cereals.
  • A balanced breakfast avoids feeling hungry during the day

Determine your daily calorie intake

If you have a lot of weight to loose, seeing a dietician is advisable. They can calculate the daily amount of calories necessary for you. This can be monitored and adjusted during the progress of your diet.

Do not skip meals

Skipping meals can cause problems of hunger later on, therefore wrong food choices are often made. It also confuses the body of when it will next receive calories and nutrients so as a result it conserves energy hanging onto fat stores making weight loss very difficult.

Snacks.... always have a fruit at hand

Late afternoon can be a difficult time of the day. Plan a snack towards the end of the afternoon as this helps to avoid nibbling.

The apple remains one of the easiest fruits to carry around with you

Reduce the amount of processed snacks you eat

When faced with a buffet of food or snacks, take only what you need and learn to resist and not repeatedly help your self lots of times.

Drink plenty

You must drink at least 1 to 1,5 liters of water each day

Simple water contains no calories and is essential to keep ourselves hydrated, avoid constipation and flush through the urinary tract.

Limit alcoholic and sweetened drinks

  • Limit alcoholic and sweetened drinks they contain a lot of calories.
  • A glass of wine during the meal is not completely forbidden. Take care not to get carried away drinking several glasses of wine, which will considerably increase your calorie intake.
  • Tea can decrease stress and improve concentration; in addition, tea is an excellent antioxidant because of its strong content in flavonoids.

Consume less salt

Salt increases the feeling of hunger .
  • Salt consumption causes cardiovascular disease: the daily requirements of salt are from 1 to 2 g whereas most people consume 8 to 10 grams. Salt is present in 70% of daily intake of food.
  • 80% of salt is hidden in bread, cured meats, soups, cheeses and ready-made meals. Salt is sometimes added to food processed and readymade foods as it increases the quantity of water thus increasing it's weight.
  • A reduction of 25 to 35% in salt intake would decrease your cardiovascular risk from 25 to 30% in subjects suffering from high blood pressure (study of British Medical Journal July 2007).
  • Most international experts recommend lowering our daily salt intake by 30%.
  • When buying foods, check the amount of salt present. Avoid buying salty foods.

Choose your food

  • Consume more fish especially oily fish, at least 2 to 3 times per week.
  • A selection of vegetables are advised at each meal , some raw if possible.
  • Decrease the quantity of certain foods like chocolate, cakes, biscuits, peanuts...

Weigh yourself no more than once a week

  • Using the same scales and under the same conditions.

Enjoy yourself from time to time

Denying the foods you enjoy, especially the unhealthy ones can lead to binge eating and out of control overeating, so enjoy treats and nights out from time to time.

Go shopping after having eaten: this will avoid buying certain tempting products

Avoid nibbling between the meals

Always have fruit and vegetables in your refrigerator

Some tips to help eating better and losing kilos

  • Allow yourself a piece of chocolate, preferably dark each day to avoid feelings of denial and tackle sweet cravings.
  • Vegetables contain a lot of fibre and fill you up, ensure you eat plenty.
  • Eat raw vegetables as snacks and avoid cured meats that are high in fat and salt. Raw vegetables contain many nutrients and can calm your hunger.
  • Beware of dressings and sauces, they too can be high in fat and salt for example; mayonnaise, salad cream and gravy....
  • Cook with spices to make dishes more tasty
  • Try other ways of cooking, such as steamed, baked, grilled....
  • Enjoy carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, rice, potatoes as they are low in fat, contain starch and fibre and help control hunger.

Regular exercise is a priority

All doctors and nutritionists are unanimous: no diet is successful without regular exercise.
  • The combination of exercise and healthy eating is fundamental to losing weight and being healthy.
  • Regular exercise helps to stabilise your weight and distributes the muscle mass which modifies your figure.
  • Aim to exercise at least 2 to 3 times a week for 30 to 40 minutes. For example; aerobics, jogging, walking, swimming, cycling
  • Strive to improve your fitness.
  • Think of other ways to increase your activity, walk to the shops, use public transport and get off a stop earlier than you need and walk to work. Use the stairs instead of the lift...
  • The WCRF, World Cancer Research Fund, recommends 30 minutes of physical activity each day.
  • Ask for medical advice if you are seriously overweight because of potential cardiovascular risks.

Exercise does not make you lose weight. To walk for 1 kilometer at an average pace involves an expenditure of approximately 100 calories. To lose 1 kilo, you would need for example to swim for 8 hours.
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