Dr Joanna McMil­lan My healthy eat­ing plan

A flex­i­ble eat­ing and life­style plan is the key to weight con­trol, writes nu­tri­tion­ist Dr Joanna McMil­lan.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - THE BODY SPECIAL -

The prob­lem with most pop­u­lar di­ets or the lat­est ex­er­cise reg­i­men is that they don’t con­sider a holistic ap­proach to health and well­be­ing. A short-sighted goal of weight loss over a few weeks isn’t go­ing to help you with long-term weight con­trol, let alone your to­tal body health. We must move away from the crazy di­ets, the im­pos­si­ble-to­keep-up ex­er­cise reg­i­mens and in­stead em­brace true life­style change. This is the only way we can not only get lean if we have weight to lose, but pre­vent weight gain over time so that we stay lean.

1 Food

Eat de­li­cious food that nour­ishes your body in ap­pro­pri­ate por­tions to lose body fat if you need to, or stay lean if you are al­ready a healthy body com­po­si­tion. Knowl­edge con­tin­ues to grow in sci­ence and re­search, link­ing what, how and when we eat with how we feel to­day, but also how our bod­ies age and our health fares decades into the fu­ture. Real food means food that is close to the way na­ture in­tended. That is food that is full of ben­e­fi­cial nu­tri­ents, phy­to­chem­i­cals and zoo­chem­i­cals, which our bod­ies need to func­tion at their best. Real food is veg­eta­bles, fruit, nuts, seeds, whole­grains, legumes, seafood, meat, dairy, eggs and cer­tain food made di­rectly from these, such as ex­tra vir­gin olive oil (the juice squeezed from olives) or tofu (made from soy beans). This doesn’t mean no pro­cessed foods at all. I keep hear­ing peo­ple say that pro­cessed food is bad. But this is a far too sim­plis­tic state­ment. Pro­cess­ing can, in fact, be ben­e­fi­cial for cer­tain foods. Pro­cess­ing toma­toes to make tomato paste, for ex­am­ple, not only gives us a food with a con­ve­niently long shelf life, it also dra­mat­i­cally in­creases the lev­els of the pow­er­ful an­tiox­i­dant ly­copene.

2 Drink

Drink wa­ter as your main drink to stay well hy­drated. Have a glass of wa­ter with your meals and on av­er­age try to have a glass every hour through the day. Wa­ter has no kilo­joules, no un­de­sir­able ad­di­tives and serves the pur­pose of hy­dra­tion. You can also en­joy cof­fee and tea, with milk if you like, but with­out added sugar. Veg­gie-based smooth­ies are also fab­u­lous ad­di­tions to your daily menu plan to boost your in­take of plant foods. Soft drinks and juices are out – you don’t need those ex­tra kilo­joules and it’s much bet­ter to get them from whole foods. If you en­joy an al­co­holic drink, then you still can. Just try to stick to no more than two a day, par­tic­u­larly while ac­tively try­ing to get lean.

3 Ex­er­cise

Ex­er­cise is a non-ne­go­tiable for long-term good health and weight con­trol. It changes the way your body works, mak­ing you a bet­ter fat burner and, with a lit­tle ex­tra mus­cle, you’ll burn more kilo­joules at rest. Aim for a min­i­mum of a 30-minute walk every day and add two or three more for­mal ex­er­cise ses­sions into your week – such as fit­ness classes, yoga, Pi­lates, danc­ing, cy­cling or run­ning.

4 Ac­tiv­ity

Aside from the for­mal ex­er­cise you do, how ac­tive you are for the rest of the day also mat­ters. Count up how many hours you sit on an av­er­age day. Es­pe­cially if you work at a desk, you’ll be amazed how these add up. Set your­self goals to break up sit­ting times, so that you never sit for more than a cou­ple of hours with­out a break for at least a few min­utes of ac­tiv­ity. If your of­fice has a stand­ing desk, use it for some of the time; stand on the bus or train; stand when you are on a long phone call; walk the es­ca­la­tors and grab other op­por­tu­ni­ties for move­ment.

5 Stress

Stress can lead you to sleep badly; you’re then tired so skip your ex­er­cise. Many find they turn to food, of­ten un­healthy food, when stressed, while el­e­vated lev­els of stress hor­mones di­rect your body to lay down those ex­tra kilo­joules as fat around your mid­dle – the worst kind of fat for health. Oth­ers may find they turn to al­co­hol to blunt a stress­ful day. Learn­ing how to man­age your stress more ef­fec­tively re­ally can make a ma­jor dif­fer­ence to your abil­ity to get and stay lean.

6 Sleep

Be­ing tired all the time erodes your abil­ity to eat well, move more and man­age your stress. Aim for seven to eight hours sleep on most nights and you’ll be amazed how much bet­ter you look, feel and per­form. If you’re toss­ing and turn­ing in the night or you strug­gle to get to sleep, think about what sleep re­searchers call “sleep hy­giene”. This in­cludes things like go­ing to bed and get­ting up at

roughly the same time, avoid­ing caf­feine af­ter lunchtime, hav­ing at least two hours be­fore bed with­out food, avoid­ing more than one or two al­co­holic drinks, and hav­ing no screen time (es­pe­cially tablets and smart­phones) for an hour be­fore bed – try read­ing a book or hav­ing a bath in­stead to help you wind down.

Mon­i­tor­ing your progress

We need to be able to mea­sure our progress in a tan­gi­ble way. Lis­ten­ing to your body and feel­ings of well­be­ing are ter­rific, but they are also sub­ject to our emo­tions and mood.

BODY FAT: You may have heard over the past few years that weigh­ing your­self is passé, and what is re­ally im­por­tant is body fat per­cent­age. I couldn’t agree more. The most ac­cu­rate and eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble way to have your body fat and mus­cle lev­els mea­sured is to go and have a DEXA scan. There are a num­ber of com­pa­nies that of­fer this.

WAIST MEA­SURE­MENT: The lat­est sci­en­tific re­search clearly shows that the fat most detri­men­tal to health is that around your mid­dle. The ideal range for women is un­der 80cm

– with greatly in­creased risk over 88cm. For men, these cut-offs are 94cm and 102cm, re­spec­tively.

WEIGHT: Record­ing your weight has its pros and cons. It’s en­tirely up to you as to whether you hop on the scales or not, and your de­ci­sion should be based on what is mo­ti­vat­ing to you. Firstly, un­der­stand what your weight tells you. It’s not just a mea­sure of body fat changes. Weight is af­fected by fluid changes, such as de­hy­dra­tion and fluid re­ten­tion, when you last ate, when you went to the bath­room, and change to your mus­cle mass.>>

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