If you want to discover how to enjoy a lifetime of healthy and nutritious eating start by putting these six simple steps into practice.
There’s no disputing the facts. If you’re a healthy adult you’ll lose weight if, over time, you eat fewer calories than your body uses. And you’ll gain weight if, over time, you eat more calories than your body uses. If weight loss is your goal then it all hinges on a calorie deficit.
“While creating a calorie deficit sounds pretty easy, actually losing weight and keeping it off is hard,” says Bas Hollander, Les Mills Education Director and co-creator of the new Les Mills Fuel nutritional reset. He points to a 2015 study of 176,000 obese individuals which highlighted a low probability of participants attaining ‘normal weight’ (BMI 18.5 – 24.9) or a five percent reduction in body weight. In the group with a BMI of 30-24.9, the annual probability of achieving a five percent weight reduction was just one in 12 for men and one in 10 for women. “What’s more, over half of all those who did manage to lose the weight initially, gained weight in the next two years – often ending up heavier than they were in the first place!” adds Bas. Other studies have shown the more weight loss attempts the greater the weight gain over time. Bas says this doesn’t mean we should stop helping people towards a healthier weight that’s their goal. “It just means that as fitness professionals we need to realize that losing weight can be much harder than we sometimes make it seem.”
One of the most successful ways to find your optimal weight is to make small dietary changes, that in time can create a big difference. “Food is not the enemy,” says Diana Archer Mills, Les Mills Creative Director and co-creator of the Les Mills Fuel nutritional reset. "A lifetime of good nutrition comes down to finding what works for you, and setting eating patterns that feel great and bring you joy." Simply follow these six steps and you’ll be well on track.
#1 TAKE MORE NOTICE OF YOUR FOOD AND YOUR FEELINGS
There are six nutrients our bodies need to function; carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water. While we definitely need them all, the best ways to source these nutrients depend on the individual. For example, some of us may find yogurt to be a great source of protein, but others may find it brings on nothing but an upset tummy. This is why it’s important to start paying more attention to what you’re eating, and how it makes you feel. The easiest way to do this is to start a food journal, and record everything you eat and, how it makes you feel, both straight away and later in the day. Look for patterns and play around with what you eat and when. When you start to take notice of how different foods make you feel, you can start making small changes that will make you feel so much better!
#2 FIND THE RIGHT ADVICE FOR YOU
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the amount of nutrition advice you can find online. And it’s often very contradictory. One website says to avoid something, another website raves about the same food telling you to eat more of it. If you want simple, proven, easy-to-follow nutrition advice you should make your country’s Healthy Nutrition Guidelines your first port of call. Around the world, these guidelines differ slightly based on culture and what is common in each region, but there are many similarities across the board. Wherever you’re located the advice is this: eat more plants, eat less sugar, less salt, and less trans and saturated fats, and cut back on food that has been overly processed.
#3 BE COLORFUL
You’ve probably heard of the term ‘eat the rainbow’… but why? Aside from providing ‘gram-worthy’ dinner plate photos, what does eating a colorful array of foods actually do? Well, making sure our diets are packed with all sorts of different colors is one of the simplest ways to fuel our bodies with much-needed vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals are called micronutrients because they are found in foods in very small amounts. Yet they are critical for our survival. As our body is not able to make them in sufficient quantities, we need to get micronutrients from our foods. Not only do we need a colorful mix of fruit, and vegetables we also need a colorful mix of healthy fats (such as butter, milk, salmon, eggs, olive oil, nuts, and meat) as these healthy fats are key to helping our bodies absorb vitamins.
#4 LEARN THE TRUTH ABOUT SUGAR
It’s a common misconception that sugar is evil and should be eliminated from our diets. This is not the case. While all sugar is a type of carbohydrate and is broken down into glucose which we use for energy, not all sugar is created equally. When we eat foods like apples or oats we get a good dose of sugar, which is great for energy, plus we get fiber and important vitamins and minerals. And we stay full for longer. When we eat foods like cake, candy, and soda we’re consuming the calories but we don’t get any of the other benefits. This type of added sugar (also known as empty calories) is not only in sweet treats, it hides in all sorts of places – ketchup, mayonnaise, and cereal … Cutting back on added sugar isn’t always easy, but it is the fastest way to eliminate unnecessary calories from your diet.
#5 EAT MINDFULLY
Mindful eating is about maintaining an in-the-moment awareness of the food and drinks you put into your body – and it’s a great skill to develop. Eating mindfully helps you start observing rather than judging how the food makes you feel. It can take the brain up to 20 minutes to realize you're full. But you won't register that if you are double-tapping on Instagram. By making food your main focus while you eat you instantly slow down. You become aware of the signals your body sends about taste, satisfaction, and fullness. And that means you’re far less likely to bowl off a whole bag of Cheetos without noticing!
#6 BE PREPARED
Spontaneity is cool and brings joy into your eating. But feeling unprepared can bring stress and a lack of options. Taking simple steps to prepare good nutrition is the secret to staying in control and on track with healthy eating. If you’re one of those organizational superstars who thrives on preparing every meal for the week ahead, go for gold! But if you find this a little daunting, simply find a few good, healthy meal options and make sure you have plenty of healthy snacks on hand.