I often see clients that have spent years yo-yo dieting or restricting foods to get to a goal weight and ended up returning to the numbers they dread when the supposed eating healthy has slowed down or the person has started to eat as they did before and piled the weight back on.
What I always say to people is that most of these fad diets are restrictive and unsustainable long term..:no one wants to eat only a few types of food for the rest of their lives and I know that I certainly don’t want to be told that some foods are off limits as more often than not, these are the foods that will be craved when energy levels are low or feeling emotional.
So why do we do it…time and time again people are taking up these fad diets to lose weight quick, tone up quick yet they don’t seem to work long term.
You see if you put yourself in a calorie deficit over long periods of time, your body goes into a form of starvation mode which means that it will naturally hold onto as much energy, It involves the body responding to reduced calorie intake by reducing calorie expenditure to maintain energy balance and prevent starvation.
What does tend to happen is that when a person returns to normal eating, the body will hold onto that sugar/energy via fat cells to conserve as much energy as possible to avoid starvation mode.
And don’t be fooled into thinking that starvation mode is restricting food completely, no what it means is a calorie deficit of any sort! If you are putting in less energy than you are using, then your body takes this is as starvation.
I’m not a big believer of calorie counting…as not all calories are created equal!
Takes this example for instance
1 cup (100g) Nuts contains 650-800 calories
A Big Mac contains 563 calories
But in theory these foods are completely different with the nuts providing amazing nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants, protein and healthy fats yet they contain more calories than the Big Mac which is highly processed and refined and provides no nutritional value at all!
Calories are not created equal so please please don’t be drawn into counting calories…my view is to Count Colours instead.
You see we are all different, so what works for one person might not be suited to everyone, yet we are all attempting the same diets…doesn’t make sense.
We all have different body shapes, metabolism, digestion, eating patterns, sleeps patterns, stress levels so how is one diet going to help everyone…it isn’t.
Eating well is personal to you…finding what works for you is a journey.
What I will say is there are tools that we can all implement that will help to gain balance with food and weight and it doesn’t involve restricting foods or a calorie deficit and starvation mode.
It’s about finding balance, enjoyment and peace with what we eat and how we eat.
I always say to people that one of the most important habits to create when eating well is to EAT THE RAINBOW 🌈
It really is that simple.
You see so many people count one or two vegetables on a plate adequate but we should be looking at creating a rainbow at each meal time.
Vegetables and fruit contain amazing and powerful antioxidant, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals that we can’t get from any other food. They contain disease resisting chemicals, they can support heart health, brain health, skin health, have anti-ageing properties, reduce risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, support the immune system, balance hormones! It’s all there in vegetables and fruit yet most of us are struggling to get the government guidelines of 5 a day when we should be aiming for at least 8 a day!
But panic it’s not as difficult as it may seem!
Okay so you may have a little broccoli and carrots on your plate which of course is fantastic but what you want is diversity of nutrients which is diversity of colours. The more colours on a plate the more nutrients you will get…less is more doesn’t apply here!
Take breakfast for instance…porridge or overnight oats topped with blueberries, raspberries and slices of apple! That’s 3 already
Lunch is maybe a salad with roasted veggies, hummus and grains or a wrap with vegetables and feta…possibly 3 vegetables for lunch
And then dinner…Traybake with 4 different vegetables
That’s 10 vegetables and fruit and that’s not including a little veg or fruit snack during the day!
You see it’s pretty easy if you think about it.
Each vegetable and fruit will provide essential nutrients for your body so the more colours and the more colourful our plate gets, the more benefits to our body.
Take the humble beetroot for instance…did you know that it can actually help endurance? They contain nitrates that improve oxygen supply within the body during training or exercise and improve exhaustion times.
Beetroot has also been shown to reduce blood pressure, the blood pressure-lowering effects are mainly due to the high concentration of nitrates.
Dietary nitrates are converted into nitric oxide, a molecule that dilates blood vessels, causing blood pressure to drop
They also contain high levels of a pigment called betalains which posses anti-inflammatory properties and inflammation is one of the leading causes of heart disease, cancer, liver disease and obesity.
Broccoli for instance contains high levels of antioxidants including glucoraphanin, a compound that is converted into a potent antioxidant called sulforaphane during digestion. Sulforaphane may support health, including reduce blood sugar, cholesterol levels, reduce oxidative stress and chronic disease development.
Another phytonutrient is Kaempferol, a flavonoid in broccoli, demonstrates strong anti-inflammatory capacity.
Antioxidants are molecules that inhibit or neutralize cell damage caused by free radicals. This can lead to reduced inflammation and an overall health-protective effect as well as having anti-ageing properties which is always beneficial in my eyes!
The fibre content in broccoli as well as other vegetables and fruit can help to support gut health. You see the gut feeds on fibre which helps the good bacteria to thrive, supporting our immune system (remember that 70% of our immune system is formed in our gut) support hormone levels (90% of our natural serotonin is produced in our gut) modulate digestion and metabolism, energy production, the list goes on. it also allows the good bacteria to produce by products called SCFA’s (short chain fatty acids) which help to keep the gut and colon healthy.
Broccoli also contains vitamin C to support immune health as well as the nutrients and antioxidants to support brain health, Heart health, and promote healthy bones and joints.
I always say when you look at your plate…at least half of the plate should be vegetables! If you are eating on the go and you need to grab something quick…look at the food, does it look colourful? does it look like it will nourish you? If the answer is no, then it probably isn’t going to provide much nutritional value! Look for colourful natural and unprocessed foods.
And don’t forget the concentrated nutrients that you get from herbs and spices which can all support overall health and wellbeing. These are often overlooked yet possess so many health benefits.
take turmeric as an example which is one of the most researched spices. It’s active ingredient curcumin has been shown to posses a powerful anti-inflammatory properties as well as very strong antioxidants.
studies have shown that the effect of turmeric matches the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory drugs and without the side effects.
turmeric can dramatically increase the antioxidant capacity within the body.
turmeric has been linked to improved brain function by boosting the brain derived neurotrophic factor as well as the ability to reduce the risk of heart disease, some cancers, Alzheimer’s and reducing symptoms of arthritis.
and don’t forget the amazing benefits of cinnamon, ginger, garlic, coriander, mint, sage, fenugreek, parsley which all contain amazing active ingredients that can support gut health, immunity, heart health, and brain health.
In part 2, I will show you that eating fats and carbohydrates won’t make you fat and they can be enjoyed as part of a balanced and healthy way of eating.