Your weight can have a huge impact on your health. Here’s how to manage your weight, safely and naturally…
To ensure you stay healthy, it’s important to watch your weight. Being overweight can negatively impact so many aspects of health and can increase your risk of conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
“Weight management can be challenging for many individuals because there are a number of other factors which may complicate ability to maintain optimal weight,” comments nutritional therapist Rose Holmes, education and training manager at Rio Health. “Both diet and lifestyle play important roles in weight management, as does emotional, mental and spiritual health. This can make it difficult to work out reasons for an individual’s perceived reduced ability to maintain optimal weight.
“Overweight and obesity associate with a large number of chronic health conditions. This is because excess fat means inflammation. Inflammation impacts the whole body. Additionally, carrying excess weight puts extra strain on an individual’s body frame and organs.”
Nutritional therapist Hannah Braye, senior technical advisor at ADM Protexin, shares her eight-step guide on how to manage weight naturally:
1. Opt for a high protein breakfast
Many people’s breakfasts tend to be carbohydrate heavy and nutrient poor, often consisting of sugary cereals and toast. Studies have shown that consuming a high protein breakfast can help improve appetite control, food intake, and body composition and may decrease snacking later in the day. In particular, breakfasts containing eggs may help enhance weight loss, as part of an energy-deficient diet, so get scrambling!
2.Look after your gut bacteria
There is increasing evidence indicating that our gut bacteria are involved in the control of body weight. It appears that the gut flora of an obese individual differs from a lean individual, and there is potential for live bacteria supplements to improve the gut flora and possibly increase weight loss.
Did you know that cortisol and other stress hormones act to control both food intake and energy expenditure? In particular, stress hormones are known to increase the consumption of foods high in fat and sugar, particularly in women. High stress levels can lead to weight gain around the middle in particular, which is known as visceral adipose tissue (VAT). VAT carries with it a number of increased health risks. Reducing stress is therefore important for both weight management and long-term health. Eating well, limiting caffeine and alcohol and getting good sleep is important. As is taking time out for yourself and asking for help when it’s needed.
4.Stop counting calories and just eat real food
Research has demonstrated that dieting, or the restriction of caloric intake, does not lead to long-term weight loss, but instead increases cortisol levels and perceived stress – two factors that are known to cause weight gain. Instead of fixating on calories or restricting yourself so you feel deprived, focus on eating whole, nutritious, unprocessed foods. Aim for two pieces of fruit and at least five vegetables a day, in a rainbow of different colours. Switch to fibre-rich wholegrain varieties of rice, bread and pasta, and include good quality protein each time you eat – such as eggs, nuts, seeds, fish, seafood, lentils, beans, chickpeas, organic/grass-fed meat, and fermented tofu. Healthy food can be delicious, so get creative in the kitchen.
5.Make exercise fun
Moving more is key to maintaining a healthy weight and our general fitness. Aerobic exercise in particular has been shown to help regulate appetite by temporarily suppressing ghrelin – our hunger hormone. But who says that exercise has to be endless hours sweating on the treadmill at a smelly old gym? MoveGB is a platform listing local exercise classes of all types, from yoga, swimming, dance, martial arts, bootcamps and many more. Pay a weekly subscription and you can attend a variety in your area, making it easy to discover new classes and try new things. Exercising with a friend is also a great strategy. Not only is it more fun, but you’re also less likely to make excuses when someone else is relying on you to turn up.
6.Pimp your Sunday roast with lots of veg
The Sunday roast is a British institution during the winter months and can be enjoyed as part of a healthy balanced diet. However, don’t let the veggies be a soggy afterthought. Instead, try experimenting and making them the star of the show with a variety of different types and colours. How about braised red cabbage, cumin roast carrots, stir-fried sprouts, and cauliflower steaks? Ideally non-starchy vegetables (those grown above the ground) should make up half of your plate, with protein and complex carbs, such as root veg, taking up a quarter each. If portion control is an issue, try eating your roast off a smaller plate and say no to second helpings.
7.Prep for the week
Many people struggle to stick to healthy eating plans due to lack of time to prep homecooked food. The weekend is therefore a perfect opportunity to prep for the week ahead to make sure you meet your health goals. Hit the farmers markets, your local greengrocers and health food stores to stock up on delicious nutritious food. Preparing freezer bags of pre-chopped fruit and veg for breakfast smoothies, meal prepping lunches for the week and batch cooking healthy dinners to be kept in the freezer for evenings when you don’t feel like cooking are all great strategies. If you do need to buy lunch or dinner out, research eateries near you that serves healthy options such as salads, soups or fish, meat or dhal with a big side of veg.
If trying to manage your weight, its generally advisable to avoid snacking between meals (this can also have benefits for digestion). If you are prone to snacking, one trick to avoid succumbing to cravings is to drink a glass of water or herbal tea, as often dehydration can be misinterpreted as hunger. Studies have also shown that increasing hydration can lead to body weight loss due to an associated reduction in food intake and increased breakdown of fat caused by a speeding up of the metabolism when cells are hydrated. Cinnamon tea in particular is great for helping to curb mid-afternoon or after-dinner sugar cravings, due to its naturally sweet flavour and hypoglycaemic effects, helping us to regulate our blood sugar levels.