Food is our friend
Food is our friend. Food is our fuel, our energy. Without it, we collapse and fall over. It keeps our body functioning and it fuels our work and recreation.
Too much energy makes us fat
If we consume more energy than we expend, our body converts the excess into fat and dumps it in various fat-dumps around our body: e.g. our hips, thighs, tummy etc. Result? We get fat and lose our sense of humor. Conversely, if we consume less energy than we expend, our body removes some fat from it’s fat-dumps and converts it back into energy. Result? We lose weight and regain our sense of humor.
But HOLD IT! This doesn’t mean you have to STOP EATING in order to lose weight. Remember what I said in the first sentence: food is our friend. And let’s face it, we need all the friends we can get. All it means, is that we need to reduce the amount of high-energy food we eat.
Not all foods are equally fattening or equally healthy
All food contains energy (calories). However not all foods are equally fattening or equally healthy. For example:
- Some foods contain more than twice the calories of others.
- Some foods make digestion more difficult.
- Some foods contain little, if any, nutrition.
- Some foods actually reduce the amount of nutrition in our bodies.
- Some foods are associated with serious diseases like heart disease and cancer.
In other words…
It’s not how much food we eat: it’s the type of food we eat, that counts!
To put it real simply – we should follow a sensible diet.
How To Eat Sensibly
For most of us, eating a sensible diet means making 5 basic changes.
- We should eat less fat.
- We should eat less sugar.
- We should eat more fiber.
- We should eat more fruit and vegetables.
- We should avoid hunger by filling up with good food.
1. Eat less fat
Fat is not your friend – except in small quantities
Fat contains more than twice the calories of other nutrients. A typical American or Irish diet contains more than 90 grams of fat per day. To put this into perspective, if you want to lose weight, you need no more than about 30 grams of fat per day. To do this, you must switch to low-fat options whenever possible, and get used to reading food labels.
- Switch to low-fat dairy products.
- Eat less red meat (beef, lamb, pork). Twice a week is enough.
- Switch to fish, turkey, chicken, pork steak, lean beef steak.
- Avoid high-fat foods like, fried breakfasts, pastries, cream, butter, mayonnaise, fries, peanuts, chocolate/candy and biscuits/cookies.
2. Eat less sugar
Sugar is not your friend, either.
Processed sugar is (pound for pound) relatively high in calories. In addition, it’s almost valueless as a food. It provides us with virtually no nutrients, so if we stopped eating it tomorrow we wouldn’t be any less nourished. I’m not suggesting that you stop eating sugar overnight (and using artificial sweeteners is no better for weight-loss), but you should moderate your intake. Fortunately, although half the sugar we consume is added to food by the manufacturers, the other half is self-administered so it’s under our control.
- Reduce the amount of sugar you add to your tea and coffee.
- Don’t add sugar to your cereal.
- Avoid frosted cereals or high-glucose muesli.
- Eat tinned fruit packed in natural juice, not syrup.
- Avoid non-diet soft drinks. Instead, enjoy diet drinks/minerals or 100% fruit juice.
- Avoid so-called treats like biscuits/cookies, chocolates/candy and cakes.
- Start reading food labels and choose brands with less sugar.
Remember, sensible eating doesn’t mean avoiding ‘sweet things’. It just means choosing sweet things that don’t give us fat thighs.
3. Eat more fiber
It doesn’t mean bran with everything!
Pound for pound, fiber contains far fewer calories than fat or sugar so it’s an ideal slimming food. It also fills us up, so we feel nice and satisfied. It also helps to protect against a number of digestive complaints like constipation, diverticular disease, as well as diabetes and gall-stones.
Higher fiber, starchy foods include: whole meal bread, potatoes, pasta, brown rice, beans, peas, leafy green vegetables, sweet-corn, pulses, bran-based cereals, oat bran.
4. Eat more fruit and vegetables
These are your best friends
Ideally, eat 4-5 helpings of fruit every day
For example, here are 4 painless ways to eat more fruit.
- Juice it! Do it by hand or buy a juicer.
- Chop it! It’s easier to eat bite-size pieces of fruit than one big piece.
- Keep a bowl-full in the fridge and nibble at it!
- Add it to cereal and make leftovers into fruit salad.
- Open it! Open a can of tinned fruit (in juice, not syrup) every day!
- Stew it! Enjoy lots of stewed desserts. Add mousse or yogurt for extra taste!
Whatever you do, DON’T just park your fruit in a fruit bowl and expect to eat it. Be more creative. You’ll eat a lot more fruit if you are.
Ideally, eat 3-4 helpings of vegetables every day
For example, here are 4 painless ways to eat more fruit.
- Make home-made soup! It’s quick, easy and even green vegetables taste delicious!
- Cook casseroles! The flavor of the meat makes all the vegetables taste great!
- Start stir-frying! Chop veg down to size! And instead of using fat, use lemon juice, soy sauce, chilli sauce, curry sauce etc. and water.
- Eat more salad! And remember, salad isn’t just a lettuce-leaf!
- It includes onions tomatoes, cucumber, sweet-corn, beetroot, celery, radishes, chopped carrot and chopped cabbage.
Move away from meat. Move towards vegetables.
Stop making meat the centerpiece of your main meals. Eat small quantities of it and eat more potatoes (rice or pasta) and other vegetables, instead.
Do your kids hate green vegetables?
If so, relax. Most kids hate green vegetables. Why? Because most parents make green vegetables incredibly boring to eat. Solution? Make them interesting. Put chilli sauce on them, sprinkle a little grated cheese over them, roast them, do whatever you have to do but make them interesting. Whatever you do, don’t boil them until they’re dead. (Vegetables are already dead.) Ideally, eat them while they’re still crunchy.
5. Avoid hunger
Hunger is definitely your Enemy No 1.
Hunger is easily the biggest Diet-killer. Why?
Because hunger makes us miserable.
Result? We give up dieting and go back to the biscuits/cookies.
Unfortunately, most slimmers still think that dieting means eating small portions – that’s why most of them give up dieting and stay fat.
- Eat lots of bread (just use a very thin covering of low-fat margarine).
- When making sandwiches, use sliced tomato or cucumber instead of margarine. It’s a great way to reduce your calorie-intake.
- Eat lots of potatoes (rice or pasta) with your main meal (but don’t add butter!).
- Ideally, buy wholemeal! i.e. wholemeal bread, brown rice & wholewheat pasta.
- Make beans a regular part of your diet. There are lots to choose from.
- Eat lots of non-frosted cereal. Best is Shredded Wheat, Weetabix, or any bran-based cereal, although most others are fine.