Here’s a list of seven fun ways to help you keep your weight loss resolutions and stay healthy all year long, without having to starve yourself.
With the holiday season coming to an end, it’s time to bid gluttony goodbye and say hello to healthier food habits. But that doesn’t mean you have to put yourself through the misery of a dreary diet, which forbids more foods than it permits. Just stick to these seven resolutions and you will feel the difference in your overall health, your energy levels and best of all, the inches round your waist.
1) Go big on breakfast
You’ve heard the phrase before – ‘eat a large breakfast, a small lunch and an even smaller dinner’. Don’t brush it off as being an old wives’ tale. Last August, researchers found that beginning the day with a high-calorie meal – even a slice of chocolate cake – can help decrease insulin, glucose, and triglyceride levels in your body. This not only helps you lose weight, but also cuts down your chances of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol.
To maximise the health benefits of the day’s first meal, opt for high fibre or whole grains, incorporating whole wheat or oatmeal in your breakfast. Oatmeal pancakes with a side of sliced bananas, anyone?
2) Don’t ignore snack-time
This isn’t a set up, snacking on a regular basis can actually help you keep a check on your weight! Not only does it prevent you from binging at meal times, but eating small meals through the day also eases the load off your digestive system. Besides, eating after a six to seven hour gap means an excessive amount of insulin is stored in your blood, which then allows your body to store fat more easily. Monitor your portion sizes, try and stick to low-calorie foods such as fruits or home-made granola bars, but make sure you eat every three to fours hours and you’ll notice a marked change in your metabolism.
3) Make your own condiments
What do you think makes a whole-wheat sandwich or a leafy green salad less healthy than it ought to be? The dash of store-bought condiments, of course. Your meal wouldn’t be the same without the mouth-watering mayonnaise or that perfectly pungent mustard, and we’re not advocating that kind of sacrifice. But taking that extra effort to ditch the store-bought goodies to replace them with stuff you’ve made at home makes all the difference. This will help you avoid the chemical additives and preservatives added to bottled condiments. You could start with making the extremely simple pesto sauce, graduate to whipping up your own mayo and tomato ketchup, and in due time you will find yourself settling for nothing other than homemade peanut butter.
4) Flavour your water
Keeping yourself hydrated doesn’t have to be a chore. Not everyone enjoys gulping down litres of water, and we get that. But the solution is simple enough. Infuse your bottle of water with natural, aromatic flavours that will give it a healthier kick and a much more delicious taste. While even a dash of mint and a squeeze of lime will help transform your water, adding peaches and blueberries to the mix will give you antioxidant power. Apple and cinnamon, a well loved combo, is also extremely healthy as is the mix of strawberry and basil, which gives you a good dose of iron and vitamin C. Just flavour your water with a creative combination of fruits, herbs and spices, and make sure you carry a bottle of the aromatic drink around with you. This way you won’t feel the temptation to indulge in a sinful cola drink or even the slightly lesser evil, a glass of juice. Note, bottled flavoured water won’t work the same way because it is likely to contain extra sugar and colour.
5) Pile on the protein
There’s little that could make you want to refuse a diet plan that encourages you to include a delectable dose of fish, chicken, and a controlled portion of beef. A high protein diet gives your body its much-needed dose of amino acids, allowing it to function most efficiently, and makes sure your muscles are adequately recharged. The trick to using this everyday essential to your benefit is to identify the right type of protein. Select a whole protein food whenever possible – these include animal products. But those who don’t eat meat have several equally appetising alternatives. Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt are excellent sources of protein. But did you know that guavas, avocados, dates, beans, sweet corn and apricots are also good sources of protein? Good to know you have options other than legumes and nuts, right?
6) Junk the juice, eat the fruit
You may think you’re making an extremely healthy start to your day when you gulp down a fresh fruit juice early in the morning. But the truth is, consuming a whole fruit is a much better option than juicing it, especially in the case of blueberries, grapes, and apples – fruits that are linked to lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes. When a fruit is juiced, it tends to lose some of its vital nutrients such as fibre, antioxidants and water-soluble vitamins and gain about 35 per cent sugar. If you must drink juices, however, opt for pomegranate, apricots, melons or cherry juice. These fare much better on the juice front and manage to retain a lot of their original nutrients.
7) Go green
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell you that adding leafy greens to your meals makes good sense for your health. Kale was quite possibly one of the most popular foods and the star of the social networking sites last year. The leafy fella is definitely going to stick around this year and is bringing its entire gang of greens along for the ride! Spinach, cabbage and lettuce are traditional sources of vitamins and minerals. Pay close attention to these greens and you’re going to be right on trend this year.
Grains to look out for:
The sudden popularity of quinoa, a relatively lesser known grain which shot to fame last year, isn’t going to be short-lived. The grain, native to the Andean region of Ecuador, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia, is definitely here to stay. Keep a sharp lookout down the supermarket aisles and you’ll see that the grain has given you a healthy way out to your cookie craving – Qookies.
A well used grain in the Middle East, freekeh is USA’s next hot superfood. A worthy successor to quinoa, this high fibre grain also contains a host of nutrients such as potassium, magnesium and selenium. It is said to aid weight loss and makes a great replacement for rice – use it to make a pilaf or risotto. You could even replace the more traditional bulgar wheat in tabbouleh with freekeh for a change.
A traditional grain of Ethiopia and Eritrea, teff leads all grains in its calcium and Vitamin C content. It is also high in resistant starch, which is a recently-discovered dietary fibre good for the control of blood sugar, weight and colon health. In Ethiopia, teff flour is used to make a type of sourdough called injera, but the gluten-free grain could also yield delicious pancakes, cereals, waffles, wraps and so on.