Tips for Healthy Eating without Dieting
The dawning of the New Year sees millions of us setting bold New Year’s resolutions. Nearly all of us will set some sort of ambitious goal, yet despite the plain fact that nine out of ten will fail. Painfully familiar will be the long-lasting favourites of getting fitter, losing weight, and adopting healthier lifestyle habits. If you are serious about these New Year’s resolutions, then do yourself a favour and forget about quick fix diets, esoteric detox programmes and an array of other fads that just cost you money and time. But if you wish to finish this year in better shape than you started, here are top seven tips for a healthier lifestyle and diet:
High Intensity Interval Training: If doing thirty minutes of moderate exercise five times a week is too time-consuming for you, then you might want to try a less conventional High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) instead. This new concept involves doing several short bursts of high intensity training (e.g. sprints), separated by periods of low intensity exercise. This saves you time as it is all over in just a few short minutes. Evidence shows that this type of exercise delivers all the benefits of a much longer workout in a fraction of the time. It is obvious that you should seek professional advice before getting on such exercise plan, especially if you have not exercised for a long time or have some medical condition.
No dieting: Statistics say it all – over 240 million Europeans embark on a special diet plan each year, yet less than one percent of them are successful at achieving lasting weight loss. It is a truly damning indictment of a self-perpetuating diet industry that continues to earn big profits at our expense. The truth is, however, that diets that deprive the body of energy for extended periods of time eventually ruin our metabolism, leaving us more likely to gain weight than ever before. Do not do it.
Eat early: Our modern day inclination to skip breakfasts, grab a quick lunch on the go and reserve the majority of our calorie intake for a late evening meal is disastrous for metabolic health. Before noon, we are more insulin sensitive and primed to deal with fuel, but in the evening hours, our bodies switch to a more insulin resistant state and are consequently much less efficient at processing food. That means the food eaten late in the evening leaves us vulnerable to elevations in blood sugar levels and blood fats. Ultimately all that modern science is doing today is catching up with what folk wisdom has known for centuries – ‘breakfast like a king, lunch like and a prince and dine like a pauper’. If nothing else, you should at least try eating your evening meals earlier.
Get enough phytonutrients: Evidence is mounting that phytonutrients are potent protectors of our health and we can cash in on this bounty by eating delicious colourful fruits and vegetables such as berry fruits (rich in anthocyanins), cruciferous vegetables (rich in glucosinolates), dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale (rich in lutein and zeaxanthin), tomato-based sauces (rich in lycopene), along with green tea (rich in catechins) and dark chocolate (rich in flavanols). Collectively, this mix of beneficial plant compounds is thought to provide broad spectrum protection against common cancers, dementia, heart disease, stroke, eye diseases, etc.
Vitamin D: Studies tells us that over half the population of northern Europe fails to reach the minimal levels of vitamin D required for health (20ng/ml) and statistically four out of five people fail to reach more optimal levels of 32ng/ml. This is not encouraging given an ever-increasing mass of evidence to show that our low vitamin D levels are increasing the risk of just about every modern-day health condition you can think of such as osteoporosis, diabetes, common cancers, multiple sclerosis, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, infectious diseases, dementia and pregnancy complications. We get the most of our vitamin D from the sunshine. But in the northern countries, we only get sunshine of the correct UVB wavelength to synthesise vitamin D in late spring and in summer. So throughout the winter months people in northern Europe need to maintain an ideal vitamin D level by supplementing 1,100-1,200 IU of vitamin D daily.
Avoid fructose: You most likely do not need a nutritionist to tell you that eating lot of sugar and refined and processed carbohydrates found in abundance in cakes, confectionary, pastries, white breads and pasta, is like pressing the health self-destruct button, flooding the bloodstream with a glucose glut, bringing about hormonal and metabolic chaos and paving the way to a number of illnesses from obesity and diabetes to heart disease. But what about the innocent natural fruit sugar fructose? This may come as a surprise to you; recent research indicates that excess fructose is a kind of metabolic poison. That is due to the unique way this natural fruit sugar is being metabolised, resulting in increasing levels of triglycerides (leading to higher risk for heart diseases) and uric acid levels (causing gout and hypertension). As a matter of fact, eating excess amounts of fructose is thought to help develop the metabolic syndrome, a cluster of imbalances that include insulin resistance, abdominal obesity, hypertension, elevated triglycerides, and low levels of protective HDL-cholesterol. Whilst eating fresh fruits cannot be bad, when it comes to our love for fructose-laden fruit juices and fruit smoothies, think again. In a study of some 70,000 women, whole fruit intake was associated with reducing the risk of diabetes, whereas fruit juice was associated with an increased risk.
Drink coffee: Drinking coffee has been for many years considered bad for our health. Wrong! Evidence is mounting to finally proclaim coffee as a health drink, protecting against diabetes, neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, liver diseases, whilst being jam-packed with beneficial phytonutrients and antioxidants. And what is even more encouraging for coffee lovers, the health benefits of coffee appear to be dose dependent, meaning the more you drink the greater these health benefits are (the only problem here is that caffeine is not suitable for everyone, e.g. pregnant or breastfeeding women).