ASK most people what they need to do to lose weight and they’ll probably say: “eat less and move more”. Oh, if only it was that easy.
We know that diet and exercise play the biggest role in obesity and fat management but many of us are overlooking the finer details.
It’s not simply a case of cutting carbs completely or just switching to diet foods – serious weight loss requires actually understanding about nutrition.
And many of us clearly don’t; nearly 40 per cent of all adults worldwide are overweight, with 700 million being classed as clinically obese.
A study today published in the BMJ found that although genes can play a role, the main cause is diet.
With that in mind, nutritionist May Simpkin has been sharing her golden weight loss tips with
She says that the first step is avoiding the idea of “dieting”, which implies that you’re only eating well for a certain amount of time – after which, you’re going to go back to your old ways.
So, here are seven non-diet tips for eating better and feeling lighter:
Ditch the diet drinks
A study back in May suggested that drinking diet drinks could make you put on weight because we tend to eat extra calories afterwards.
Scientists found that kids and teenagers who drank diet beverages ate an extra 200 calories a day.
That’s compared to their peers who only drank water.
More surprising, was the fact that kids downing diet drinks consumed the same number of daily calories as those guzzling the sugary versions, like regular Coke.
So stick to water.
Don’t rely on raisins and dates
Dried fruit is still really good for you and can be a fibrous way of getting your sugar hit.
But don’t rely on it because it’s still high in sugar (albeit naturally occurring).
If you can, eat fresh fruit in its natural form; it’ll fill you up and ensure that you’re getting loads of fibre and vitamins.
If you really can’t face going sugar-free, however, then keep some dates, prunes or apricots in your bag.
Limit your booze
Alcohol contains empty calories meaning that you’ll still put on body fat…but without feeling full.
Not all booze is made equal, however.
A single gin and slimline tonic is just 64kcals.
Compared to other alcoholic drinks, that’s nothing:
glass of white wine: 228kcals
pint of beer: 182kcals
pint of cider: 216kcals
glass of champagne: 89kcals
But alcohol can make many of us overeat or feel rough the next day…which then leads to us snacking on sugar to get through the day.
It’s not just about the effect of booze then and there, but the knock-on effect over the next few hours.
Reduce portion sizes
We eat way more today than we ever have.
Back in the 1970s, just 4 per cent of adults were officially obese. By 2016, that figure had shot up 13 per cent.
For kids, that figure has gone from 4 per cent to 18 per cent in 30 years.
And that’s partly because our portion sizes have exploded.
“It is important to consider how much you eat at each meal; serve your meals individually rather than from a serving dish at the table, use a smaller plate, don’t have seconds and consider freezing leftovers for a convenient meal on another occasion,” May advises.
The rule of thumb is to keep your protein to the size of a pack of cards, your carbs the size as a tennis ball and cheese to the size of a matchbox.
If that sounds tiny, then you’re probably overeating on the reg.
Limit pasta and sweet potatoes
Carbs are so important to our daily function but many of us overeat on the refined and starchy ones.
“Very often we favour vegetables such as peas, sweetcorn, butternut squash, carrots, parsnips and sweet potatoes. These vegetables taste sweet and indeed contain high amounts of starch and therefore sugars,” says May.
Try limiting your starchy carbs to one portion a day and limit your bread, rice, pasta and potato amount to a quarter of your plate.
Go for unrefined carbs like brown rice and pasta where you can.
And if cutting down on those carbs makes you feel hungry, you can fill that gap with green leafy veg – which you can never really overeat on.
Make your own treats Rather than treating or “cheating” with sweets and chocolates, make your own sweet treats.
That way, you can choose what goes into them and actually make them healthier.
Whip up things like flapjacks and energy balls which use naturally occurring sugars from dates and use good fats like nut butters.
There are loads of recipes out there but we love making Deliciously Ella’s coconut and cacao balls, which contain desiccated coconut, almonds, dates, nut butter, cacao and coconut oil
Diet culture revolves around making us feel ashamed of our bodies, forcing us to starve ourselves, and then making us feel guilty when that ultimately results in binging.
It can take years to unpack such a deeply rooted and heavily promoted insecurity but you can start by giving yourself a break.
If you over-eat one day or simply decide that you need a break from your healthy eating regime, that’s fine. Pick yourself up the next day and carry on
And you don’t actually even need to do every one of these steps to go some way to achieving your goal.
“Aim to focus on one or two of these rules at the outset and slowly incorporate the others as you become more comfortable and confident with the changes you have made,” May said.
“With renewed vigour and energy, you will soon find that you are on the road to achieving your weight loss goals!”