TIPS FOR KEEP­ING ON TRACK

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - RAPID DIET -

by Dr Clare Bai­ley

As I tell my pa­tients, los­ing weight is tough, keep­ing it off is tougher. But it can be done. The fol­low­ing are tips that my pa­tients say they have found use­ful:

Sit down at the kitchen ta­ble for most meals. If you eat on the run or in front of the TV, you will eat badly and go on eat­ing well be­yond the point when you would nor­mally feel full.

Try to eat slowly. It takes time for the food you eat to reach the parts of your small in­tes­tine where cells re­lease a hor­mone, PYY, that tells your brain, “I’m full”. That’s why if you eat slowly, you will eat less. Try to put down your knife and fork down for a while and try to wait 30 sec­onds or so be­fore pick­ing them up again. Leave food on your plate when you are no longer hun­gry. This prob­a­bly goes against ev­ery­thing you were taught when grow­ing up. The al­ter­na­tive is to take smaller por­tions in the first place, leav­ing yourself the op­tion to go back for more. What Mc­don­alds and other fast food out­lets dis­cov­ered long ago is that peo­ple tend not to go back for more (thus, “Su­per­size Me”)

Try to avoid “diet” prod­ucts as they are highly pro­cessed and of­ten con­tain sugar and/or sweet­en­ers (which may not switch off hunger sig­nals).

Drink soup a lot. It is sa­ti­at­ing, cheap and prac­ti­cal. We make big quan­ti­ties, of­ten out of left-over veg, and keep the un­used stuff in the freezer.

Don’t drink lots of al­co­hol. Al­co­hol con­tains plenty of calo­ries and makes you dis­in­hib­ited, so you are more likely to snack.

Keep tempt­ing foods out of the house or out of sight. In a fas­ci­nat­ing study, Cor­nell Univer­sity re­searchers vis­ited houses in New York, tak­ing pho­tos of peo­ple’s kitchens. They found they could pre­dict a fam­ily’s weight by the foods left out on the sur­face. If break­fast ce­re­als, for ex­am­ple, were vis­i­ble, the in­hab­i­tants were, on av­er­age, 10kg heav­ier than peo­ple in house­holds where the ce­re­als were put away. Break­fast ce­re­als have a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing healthy. They aren’t. Don’t keep your cup­boards empty. If there’s no food in the house you will prob­a­bly or­der a take­away. Make sure there’s plenty of food around like nuts, yo­ghurt and eggs. Keep the fridge stocked with veg­etable cru­dites, such as sticks of car­rots, green pep­pers or toma­toes, per­haps with some salsa or hum­mus, for mo­ments when you just have to snack.

Weigh yourself several times a week. There is a widely held be­lief that you shouldn’t weigh yourself more than once a week. Yet a re­cent study sug­gests more is bet­ter. In this par­tic­u­lar trial they fol­lowed 40 peo­ple at­tend­ing a health pro­mo­tion pro­gramme. Some weighed them­selves daily, oth­ers weekly, monthly or hardly at all. The more of­ten peo­ple weighed them­selves, the more weight they lost.

Wear a belt. One of the surest ways of telling that you are putting on un­healthy fat is notic­ing when your belt starts to feel tight again.

When you go out for a meal, ask the wait­ers to take the bread bas­ket away. Try to stick to one course, with lots of veg­eta­bles in­stead of rice or pota­toes. If you have a dessert, then share it with some­one else. Re­search shows that a small amount of some­thing sticky and tasty is just as sat­is­fy­ing as eat­ing a large por­tion.

When you can, take the stairs and oc­ca­sion­ally try to run up them. It is sad how many peo­ple stand on es­ca­la­tors when they could be burn­ing a few ex­tra calo­ries walk­ing up them.

We have a dog, Tari, and she barks loudly if we don’t take her for a walk at least once a day. Walk the dog, though this is not the most prac­ti­cal tip if you pre­fer cats.

I ac­knowl­edge “three good things”. This is based on an idea de­vised by Amer­i­can psy­chol­o­gist Pro­fes­sor Martin Selig­man. All you do, at the end of the day, is think of and/ or write down three things that went well that day and why they went well. It doesn’t have to be any­thing ma­jor; per­haps some­one com­pli­mented you, or you watched a beau­ti­ful sun­set. The point is that it fo­cuses your at­ten­tion on the pos­i­tive. It is a good way to lift your mood and bol­ster re­silience.

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