Summer is nearly here, are you ready?

I wrote this post last year just after the Brexit vote. Now instead of Brexit we have the Brexit negotiations and the general election! So if you need a distraction from both of these, and want to prepare for a healthy, happy summer…without the need for a crash diet, its a good time to revisit this blog:

Summer ready – the long-term approach

Here’s to a long, sunny and healthy summer!

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New year: new you: new diet?

New Year

So we are well into the New Year. So did you start a new diet? How is it going?

At this time of year many of us feel motivated to change our diet for the better. A new year feels like turning a corner, where you can say goodbye to old habits and practice and re-inforce new ones.

But why is it so hard to keep going after the first week of January?

We may say it’s the cold, or the dark, or we have a cold, or we are too tired, or the wrong diet, or the wrong exercise plan or whatever excuse we use.

Could it be that we forgot the most important part of changing? That is actually wanting to do it for yourself and not for someone else, or because you think you should, or you’d quite like to have the body of Rihanna, but actually really, really wanting it.

Preparation for change is often overlooked, and that is why changing your diet suddenly and dramatically can do more harm than good.

Often people tell me they don’t have the willpower to make changes to their diet, but if you generate a strong sense of why you want to do it, and feel good about that, then you will have generated the ‘willpower’.

If you have found it difficult to keep going with your new diet this year, try looking at your motivation. Is this something you really want?

Write a list of the benefits of doing it and feel how good it will feel to achieve all of them. It is important to generate the positive feeling.

Once you have generated the feel good excitement about making this change, keep going back to it, daily if possible.

Once you have focused on the benefits and generated that feel good energy for some time, then make the change. I find this approach helps me to make positive changes.

If your New Year’s resolutions have now come and gone, don’t give up. Start again once you have generated the positivity for the changes that you want and see how much easier it is.

Happy eating!

Eating out in Budapest-traditional, basic food

This week’s post is a bit of a food account of my recent trip to Budapest, which I can highly recommend. As a nutritionist and food lover when I go abroad I am always interested in the food and drink. Here the food was simple and basic (which I liked) and also tasted and looked freshly cooked.

This pork dish which seemed to be a traditional dish contained lots of garlic and salt (probably more than I would use) but was very tasty. The sweet, red cabbage which I had with it was delicious. The chips were described as cubed potatoes!

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This chicken paprika dish was very basic and lacking in vegetables and was served with a heavy type of pasta, but you could appreciate that this was something to eat in the cold weather to keep out the cold (and we were very cold after an open air evening boat trip!).

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Generally meat was the order of the day (this is not a good place to go for vegetarians) but I did manage to have a lovely pike perch which may have come out of the Danube.

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Other food and drink highlights included this latte served in a weird-shaped glass and Palinka, a spirit which came in many different flavours (plum, apricot, cherry) and was an acquired taste but one I had grown to like by the end of the break.

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We also visited an amazing food market which had all sorts of fruit and vegetables. I was particularly impressed by the size of the radishes, which you can see in this picture.

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There were also lots of different cheeses to sample, freshly baked biscuits and different sort of cakes such as sour cherry strudel.

This may all sound quite heavy and calorific but on this trip we did a lot of walking and it was fairly cold in the evenings. My point is don’t be afraid to sample local food when you go away and enjoy it. It is part of the experience of travelling. Hopefully you won’t be eating foods that you eat at home. You may not love everything you eat (or you may) but this is part of experiencing a country and learning about its culture.

If you are going on a trip to the Christmas markets soon, enjoy! If not why not plan a trip to somewhere you haven’t been before and make sure you sample the local food?

Summer ready – the long-term approach

Holiday

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As the disarray surrounding the Brexit vote fades a little you may find your concerns moving towards your summer holiday and how you will feel stepping into the pool in a bikini/bathing suit. You want to feel confidant, slim and toned but with only a few weeks to go how can you best prepare yourself for that moment?

It may be tempting to go on a crash diet but before you do, consider the long-term approach.

By taking the long-term approach you recognise that you may not have reached your goal yet but you are on the way.

If in doubt, here’s why you don’t need to succumb to that crash diet and what to do instead:

  1. Severe dieting works only in the short-term

Diets work because you put a lot of effort into making them work. You do things such as recording what you eat, counting points or calories, eating low fat, eating small portions, avoiding certain foods. This works in the short-term but it is difficult to keep up in the long term. That is why many diets don’t work long term. Often after about three months, your motivation to stick to the diet wanes.

To avoid the three month lag, try not to pick a really severe diet but instead choose one that is not too restrictive so that you can keep it going for the long term, and not just a few months.

  1. When you are on a severe diet you focus only on a short-term goal

‘To lose a stone in time for my summer holiday’ may be your goal but once your holiday has been and gone, you are still left wanting to lose the weight and berating yourself for not achieving it.

Instead it is better to think of a long-term goal such as ‘lose a stone in a year and keep it off’ and think of why you want this? This brings a stronger motivation to do it. Then imagine a point in the future when you have achieved this. Visualise how you feel and what you have done to get there. You can then break this goal down into smaller targets so that it becomes achievable.

  1. On a severe diet you may not be getting enough nutrients from your food

This sounds obvious, but on a severe diet you not only restrict calories but also valuable nutrients, which can affect many processes in your body. For example levels of fat-soluble vitamins are much higher in whole milk and lower in skimmed milk, as the levels of these vitamins depend on the fat content of the milk1. The main fat-soluble vitamin found in whole milk is vitamin A, but there is also some vitamin D and E. Fat is needed to assist the absorption of these vitamins. Vitamin A is important in vision, growth and to support the immune system; vitamin D is essential for bone development; and vitamin E is an antioxidant.

  1. On a severe diet you may not be getting enough protein

Protein is not only found in meat and fish, it is present in milk and dairy products, eggs, nuts and seeds, beans and pulses. It is essential to have some protein with each meal as it helps to slow down the absorption of carbohydrates into the blood, keeping you fuller for longer. So for example, have some nuts and seeds on your cereal in the morning, have boiled eggs in your salad at lunch and have a portion of meat or fish with your dinner. Protein is essential for many body processes such as supporting the immune system and making hormones.

In summary, by taking the longer-term approach, setting a realistic goal, ensuring you have a nutritious diet which includes carbohydrates, fats and protein will enable you to feel and look great on your summer holiday (if not this one, then the next!).

Whatever you eat, enjoy it and have a great summer holiday!

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 10th Ed. 2000, Edited by Garrow, JS, James, WPT, Ralph, A.

Summer is in the air, are you getting prepared?

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Near Henley-on-Thames.

 

Last bank holiday Monday, I walked with a friend to The Flowerpot pub along the river from Henley and ate outside for the first time this year! It felt like summer had officially started. Children were playing, dogs looked hot and bothered, birds were singing. I ate crab salad and almost felt like I was on holiday.

But summer can be a time that fills a lot of people with dread. It is the time where we ‘bare our flesh’. This can be a source of great discomfort.

Most of us at some point in the summer find ourself in a bathing costume or a bikini. So how do you ensure that you are ready for this?

It is about feeling comfortable with what you’ve got. It is easy to find the faults.

But there are always good bits, focus on these. You may have lost weight since last year, or since last month. So, congratulate yourself and keep going.

Maybe you haven’t lost weight but you have made some positive changes. However small a step you have made, relish in your success and keep going.

Don’t berate yourself for not being exactly how you want to be and go on a crash diet. This leads to more misery and often more weight. See last time’s blog about black and white thinking here:

https://wordpress.com/posts/blog.commonsensenutrition.co.uk

You just need to start or carry on eating well: good protein, good fats, slow-release carbs, less sugar and processed foods (remember the 80:20 rule), eat your veg, drink water, and move as much as possible (walk, take the stairs instead of the lift, stretch).

That way you will feel good about yourself when you come to put that bikini on. You will know you may not be there yet, but you are moving towards your goal.

Enjoy your week and the warmer weather!

Zoe

3 Tips for spring: foods, daylight, sunshine

Broccoli_FreeDigitalPhotos.net_James Barker

Purple sprouting broccoli courtesy of James Barker at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I love this time of year, when the days are lengthening, the birds are singing and everything is coming into bloom. It is also a good time to explore some seasonal changes that can give your health a much-needed boost after a long winter.

Tip one: eat some seasonal foods

The season still effects what we eat to some extent. Even though salad is available in the shops all year round, you probably eat less salad in the winter, going instead for hot food more often. But once the weather starts to get warmer salad looks appealing again. 

Radishes, watercress, rocket and spring onions are in season at this time and will add a good boost to the nutrition of your diet.

It’s not just salad veg that is good at this time of year, greens such as asparagus, purple sprouting broccoli and spring greens, good sources of folic acid and vitamin K, are all easy to find at this time of year.

Buying seasonally means you can ‘buy british’ , supporting our farmers and using less air miles to get food to our plate, which means the food will be fresher and more nourishing, and hopefully taste better. For example tomatoes are mostly tasteless throughout the winter, but when in season and grown closer to home have much more flavour. 

In terms of fruit, rhubarb is a good choice at this time of year. It can be stewed with a small amount of sugar and eaten with yoghurt or on your cereal. It is also great in a pie or crumble.

You may not expect meat and fish to be seasonal but their availability is also affected by the seasons. Lamb and venison are best at this time of year and lots of different fish and seafood such as crab, oysters, cockles, winkles, prawns, sardines, plaice and salmon.

For more information on seasonal foods have a look at:

http://www.lovebritishfood.co.uk/

http://www.bbcgoodfood.co.uk/

http://www.eattheseasons.co.uk/

Tip two: make the most of the extra hour of daylight

With the recent clock change we now have an extra hour of daylight in the evenings. You can make the most of it by going out for a walk or doing something outdoors in the evenings.

It is not so difficult to get out the house as having more daylight gives us an energy boost. I always feel as if I come out of hibernation at this time of year.

Tip three: get some sunshine at lunchtime

With more daylight, there is more opportunity for us to get some sunshine and now is the time of year when we can start producing vitamin D again (from the action of sunlight on skin). It is important to get some time in the sun (without sunscreen) every day. A lunchtime walk will ensure you get this. Make sure you don’t spend more that 15 minutes in the sun without sunscreen though.

I hope you enjoy the fresh seasonal foods, extra daylight and getting outdoors more.