Below are 7 easy to apply tips which address common mistakes people make when trying to follow a healthy nutrition plan. We have tried not to include blatantly obvious suggestions (eg. avoiding cakes, sugar etc).
1. Drink Plenty Of Water
One good thing about water is that it clears toxins from your body and helps fats pass through your system before they can be stored. Water will help any substance that your body does not need to exit safely and it will also greatly aid in transporting the necessary nutrients throughout the body. Drinking water will also cause you to eat less. You can drink as much water as you want, and all it will do is make you urinate more frequently - an incovenient side effect perhaps, but not exactly an unmanageable task! If you really want to lose the weight, you'll drink the water. If you have a desk-bound job, buy a 1 litre water bottle and bring it to work. Fill it up with filtered water first thing in the morning and aim to finish it by lunch break. Re-fill it, then finish your second litre of water before you go home. Aim to drink 2 to 3 litres per day. Make sure you drink plenty during you workout (NO SPORTS DRINKS!).
2. Cook With Herbs & Spices Rather Than Sauces
Earlier this week I found myself looking at some of the nutrient values of packaged meals (for research purposes of course!). I was shocked to see that a packed hunters chicken (just chicken and cheese) had more carbs than a fish pie (70% potato!). How can this be? The answer is the sauce. The inluded sachet of BBQ sauce consisted of a whopping amount of carbs. But not just any carbs - pure straight-to-your-hips sugary carbs. So, be careful of the hidden calories, carbs and sugars in sauces (including condiments). Cook with herbs and spices instead, many of which have the added benefit of antitoxidants.
3. Don't Skip Breakfast
This is a well-known tip that still gets ignored. Your breakfast is arguably your most important meal of the day. It will help set you on the right path for the rest of the day. Skipping breakfast will not only mean that you have one less opportunity to consume your optimum levels of protein, fats, vitamins and minerals etc, but it will also mean that your body will be starting off on the wrong foot. Hunger will soon set in, encouraging you to make unhealthy choices later in the day. Your brain will not be firing on all cyclinders as your cortisol levels will be low, thus making you less alert, more sleepy / lethargic and prone to cravings for high energy, sugary / carb rich meals. Not only will you struggle to eat healthily during the rest of the day, your work performance will suffer also.
4. Never Shop For Food On An Empty Stomach
When you are hungry, tired and your blood sugars are low, your brain will demand foods that contain the quickest hit of energy possible. These will usually be sugary, carb high foods that will satisfy your brain at the expense of your body! Take one walk down the convenience aisle and every pizza, pie and ready made meal will be screaming at you 'EAT ME!'. If you make sure you eat well before your food shop I can guarantee you will silence their voices and will dramatically increase your chances of coming home with good quality food, rather than lots of naughty stuff. Try also avoiding those aisles altogether to further avoid temptation.
5. Never Run Out Of Food
Sounds counterintuitive doesn't it? To lose weight you need to make sure you have plenty of food! Consider this: you have had a tough day at work and you come home tired, hungry and open the fridge to find it is empty. What are you likely to do? Cobble together a meal from scraps and leftovers likely to be unhealthy? Maybe you will skip a proper meal altogether and will graze on snacks. Perhaps you will be straight on the phone for a takeway. I even bet you may well find yourself at the local convenience store, making the mistake mentioned in Tip 2. A well stocked fridge with all the ingredients for a healthy meal that is replenished long before it runs out will help with consistency.
6. Follow The 90% Rule
Don't get obsessed. Live a little! Reward yourself for a healthy week. If you have been healthy all week and you are invited out for a meal, treat yourself. The occasional reward is important for long term success and to keep your sanity! So long as you follow the rule of eating healthily 90% of the time, this will be sufficient enough to reap rewards. Please note: this is not an invite to eat well during the week and blow it all over the weekend!
7. Question Your Cravings
Before you find yourself eating, ask yourself are you actually hungry? Is it your brain telling you to eat or your stomach? This is particularly useful for those who tend to snack a lot. Normally it is out of habit rather than neccessity. To conquer your cravings, go 2 days without sugars and empty carbs. Fill your munchie voids with healthy snacks instead. Create a distraction during your cravings. Still craving after your meal? Wait 20 minutes before you reach for that snack or dessert. Maybe after your stomach has settled, you will no longer need any.