Some key facts to dispel common myths about weight loss and healthy eating
When it comes to weight loss and healthy eating, there are, sadly, lots of beliefs still in existence that simply shouldn’t be. They’re based on outdated research and studies that have now been proven to be wrong.
You know that saying about doing the best you can with what you have, and when you know better, do better? We should all apply that to our health.
We’ve learned a lot about nutrition in the last 40-50 years, but we’ve still got a long way to go. And rather than getting frustrated by the constantly changing media headlines, I choose to look at it as a learning experience to be excited about.
What we’re learning now about our microbiome and gut health, for example, and how it relates to our overall health, I find absolutely fascinating.
Of course, you need to have trustworthy sources you can rely on. Check that articles you’re reading have creditable references and independent studies to back up their claims. In other words, don’t just blithely believe what pops up in your Facebook newsfeed!
You are responsible for your health, no one else. Don’t worry, though, you don’t need to be a nutrition expert, that’s my job!
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Fact #1. Dieting isn’t the answer to long term weight management.
Think about any diet you’ve ever been on, how’d it end up? If you’re like most people, you probably lost weight initially and then regained it (and maybe even some more) when you returned to ‘normal’ eating.
Diets initially seem to work because they usually involve some kind of restriction, we eat less and we start to lose weight. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as the calories in vs. calories out equation.
The problem with most diets is that they aren’t a sustainable, long term solution. Not to mention that the on again, off again, cycle of yo-yo dieting messes with your hormones and metabolism.
The bottom line is that dieting isn’t really a great weight loss tool. Ultimately, it just creates misery, and leaves us feeling like a failure.
Aim to find a healthy eating style with foods that you enjoy, and that makes you feel good.
“One simple thing you can do to immediately improve your health, is to eat more fruit and vegetables every day.”
Fact #2. Real food is the key to good health and weight management.
I know it sounds simple, and really it is, doing it is the hard part! What I mean by real food is simply unprocessed foods that are as close to their natural state as possible.
Single ingredients like fruit and veggies, meat and fish, or dishes you’ve made yourself using single ingredients.
If you want to do one thing to immediately improve your health, start eating more fruit and vegetables every day.
A free menu planner
Use the free flexi-menu planner to get organised and start eating healthy meals every day.
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Fact #3. You can’t trust food packaging.
Understanding food labels is an absolute necessity these days. Food manufacturers want to sell us their products, and they know we’re looking to buy healthy foods.
That’s why they make exaggerated or misleading claims on the packaging. One of the biggest culprits is the good old ‘low fat’ label.
‘Low fat’ does not necessarily equal healthy.
What it often means is that the product is loaded up with sugar, and other not-so desirable ingredients to replace the fat that’s been removed. You’ll usually find the “full fat” option is a healthier choice.
Remember what I said earlier about being responsible for your own health? To lose weight and be healthy, you need to know exactly what you’re eating, and how much of each ingredient is in the product you’re buying.
Download my free label reading guide and keep it handy on your phone for whenever you go grocery shopping.
It’s also got the 33 most common names for sugar, so you can easily refer to it and check when you’re not sure.
Fact #4. Fat and cholesterol won’t make you fat.
We were led to believe in the past that all fat is bad, especially saturated fat. However, there is plenty of evidence now showing that saturated fats, in small amounts, are not as harmful as we used to think.
And natural dietary cholesterol doesn’t affect your blood cholesterol levels in the ways it was once thought. This is one reason why there’s been a revision on the advice about how many eggs we can eat in a week.
There is such a thing as healthy fats, and they won’t cause you to gain weight when consumed in small amounts every day. They’re actually essential for our brain, skin and other tissues to function well.
Read more in this Healthline article by Kris Gunnars: SATURATED FAT: GOOD OR BAD?
The most common sources of saturated and mono unsaturated fats are butter, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado and nuts.
“We need to consume healthy fats every day.”
Fact #5. Refined and processed oils are not healthy.
Margarine and most vegetable oils are very high in Omega 6 fatty acids, which can lead to inflammation in the body.
More concerning though, is that these polyunsaturated oils are susceptible to oxidisation, both on the shelf, and inside your body. I mean, ewww, why would you want to do that to your body?
And finally, as part of their processing, these oils often contain trans fats, which has been associated with many serious health problems.
If you want to keep things simple: buy extra virgin olive oil, in glass bottles. It’s a great multi tasking oil that you can cook with, bake with, and drizzle on salads.
Fact #6. Carbohydrates aren’t evil, and you don’t need to avoid them at all costs.
Carbs get a pretty bad rap these days, when it comes to talking about weight loss and healthy eating.
The truth is that fruit & veggies and whole grains (which are carbs) are really important for good health. Believe it or not, potatoes and bananas are not harmful to your health, and won’t make you fat. Unless you eat them by the truckload.
The carbs you want to steer clear of, and only consume in small amounts, are the refined carbs found in processed foods. Foods like white bread, cakes, pastries, crisps/potato chips, ice cream, etc.
You’ll find that these processed foods also contain the oils and trans fats mentioned above, that I recommend avoiding.
If you can’t imagine life without snacks, don’t worry I get it, I can’t either! Just make your own, I’ve got loads of great recipes HERE ON MY BLOG that only use good quality ingredients and they taste great too.
Check out my PINTEREST BOARDS for lots more great recipes and ideas.
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Fact #7. Eat protein, carbohydrates and fat at every meal.
Eating a balanced diet makes sense, right? So the fact that cutting out, or severely restricting an entire food group can be harmful to your health, means it’s not something to be undertaken lightly.
Ideally you should be eating a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats with every meal; the right kind, and in the right amounts, of course.
Eating the right amount of protein will help build and maintain muscle mass, among other things. Carbohydrates, fruit, vegetables and whole grains provide energy, both for immediate use and to store in the body for later use. Healthy fats are essential to keep our brain, skin and other tissues in optimal health.
There are a LOT of eating styles and plans around out there, so look around, and choose with care. Remember, we’re all different. What works for you may not work as well for someone else, and vice versa.
Check qualifications & sources, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and ask for proof, valid studies and research to back up any claims being made.
“Cutting back on your sugar intake isn’t as easy as it once was.”
Fact #8. Consuming excessive amounts of sugar is not a good idea.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m sure you already know this. The problem though, is that most people don’t realise how much sugar they’re actually consuming on a daily basis, as there are many hidden sources.
Cutting back on your sugar intake isn’t as easy as it once was. Removing sugar from obvious sources, by not adding it to your daily coffee, or cutting out soft drinks is a great place to start.
There are literally hundreds of places that sugar hides these days though, and in many different forms. Take some time when you’re at the supermarket next and read the labels of the packaged products you buy regularly.
I guarantee you’ll be surprised, if not shocked, by how many products contain sugar, and the amounts.
If you have kids, I suggest you spend some time in the cereal aisle, looking at the cereals and bars that are targeted towards kids and labelled ‘whole grain’ you’ll find that very eye opening.
And if you haven’t downloaded my label reading guide, scroll back up the page and grab it now!
Fact #9. You don’t need to be a cardio bunny to lose weight.
I know I don’t need to tell you that exercise is an important part of weight loss and living a healthy lifestyle. Did you know though, that your exercise doesn’t need to be ALL cardio?
In fact, spending hours and hours walking, or on the elliptical machine at the gym, isn’t the best use of your time.
Doing just one type of exercise all the time, whatever it is, besides being boring and hard to stick to, is also not ideal if having a healthy body is your end goal.
Strength training is important for so many reasons, and it will help you burn fat too. More muscle = a higher metabolism. This becomes even more important as we age, and our muscles naturally begin to atrophy.
What’s best for most people is a mixture of HIIT – high intensity interval training, combined with strength training, and LISS – low impact, steady state cardio.
For the best results, get some expert help if you can from a qualified trainer.
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Let me know if it’s inspired you to take some action, like checking out the label on your cereal packet, or making your own healthy snack or dessert.
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