Spring has definitely sprung, so it’s time to start planning for a fit and healthy summer. Here are our top 10 tips to kick start a healthy season:
1. Make time to eat: eating whilst stressed is bad for your digestion, and poor or weak digestion means you’ll absorb and assimilate nutrients less efficiently. Create time for yourself; slow down, relax, enjoy, and don’t make eating a chore.
2. Stay hydrated: our bodies are made up of over 60% water, and we need water for most bodily functions including our metabolism. We lose 1.5 litres of fluid each day through our skin, gut and urine, with tea, coffee, caffeinated soft drinks and alcohol all causing an even greater water loss. Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water a day; first on rising, then others before each meal and snack.
3. Keep blood sugar (glucose) levels balanced: the hormone insulin is released when blood glucose levels start to rise. This helps sugar enter cells to create energy for immediate use and builds fat stores when excess sugar is eaten and not used up as energy. Eating slow, glucose-releasing foods means insulin is released more gradually and provides less opportunity for fat to be deposited. Think wholegrains and fibre-rich vegetables, as well as good fats and proteins.
4. Avoid added sugar in food and drinks: excess sugar turns to fat (see above) and is added to many processed foods. But beware of the ‘No added sugar’ labels, as these foods may use artificial sweeteners. These are unnatural chemicals which can add to your toxic load and can lead to unpleasant symptoms. Better to cut down added sugar in your drinks and eliminate it altogether. You’ll quickly adapt to the taste and soon prefer it too overly sweetened foods and drinks
5. Eat protein with complex carbohydrates at every meal and snack: protein foods such as nuts, seeds, dairy products, fish, pulses, poultry and meat take longer for our digestive system to process and help us to feel fuller for longer. Incorporate some form of protein into every meal and snack in order to stabilise your blood sugar.
6. Fuel up frequently: keep blood sugar fluctuations to a minimum by eating little and often. The right foods at regular intervals will keep energy levels constant and help avoid dreaded food cravings - one of the biggest pitfalls of dieting.
7. Eat fat to lose fat: the essential fatty acids, omegas 3 and 5, can only be obtained from your food and are needed for good health. These are found in fish, seeds and nuts. Saturated fat (found in meat, milk and other dairy products) is needed in much smaller quantities. It is easy to consume too much, and it provides a very dense form of calories.
8. Eat a wide variety of food: many vitamins and minerals are involved in how the body creates energy out of food, along with many other essential processes. Low vitamin and mineral intake leads to feeling fatigued, a lack of energy, generally feeling below par and, ultimately, to poor health. It’s better (and cheaper) to get them through food rather than supplements, and, for optimal health, to eat a wide range of foods to get a wide range of nutrients.
9. Exercise is essential: maintaining a healthy weight without exercise is not going to be too successful, just as exercising frequently while eating the wrong foods can be a recipe for poor health. Exercise also helps to reduce stress, and lowers the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases as well as diabetes and osteoporosis - and it makes you feel good, too!
10. Feel positive, be good to yourself….and don’t beat yourself up: going out and having some fun will make you feel better than moping at home. If you eat a healthy diet 80% of the time, you can enjoy the occasional treat and not feel guility about it. If you have a bad day give yourself a break and start again tomorrow.
Longer, brighter days usually provide a little bit of a spring in our step. Use that energy to kickstart some healthy eating habits today, and feel the benefits for years to come.
For more top tips on healthy eating, log onto our website at www.glenvillenutrition.ie or contact us on (01) 402 0777.
Nutritional Therapist