COVER STORY

*** Nu­tri­tion ex­perts an­a­lyse five very dif­fer­ent di­ets – and of­fer sim­ple tweaks we can all learn from

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Front Page -

Mind­less snacking, ever-larger por­tions and pints of cof­fee are just a few of the things that con­spire to make us con­sume more than we re­alise. If you feel you could be eat­ing bet­ter – and feel­ing bet­ter – a food di­ary is a good place to start.

Be­ing aware of what you eat, and when, can help you un­der­stand the why: are you re­ally hun­gry? Per­haps you ate that en­tire cho­co­late-orange stollen be­cause you’re stressed, time-pressed or bored?

Five Tele­graph writ­ers (aged be­tween 25 and 56, with very dif­fer­ent diet and ex­er­cise habits) kept de­tailed food di­aries over a week (edited down to four days here for rea­sons of space), not­ing down ev­ery­thing they ate and drank. Per­haps you’ll recog­nise some of your own foibles – Pret for lunch every day? Gin as a cop­ing mech­a­nism? – in their ac­counts.

Th­ese were given to nu­tri­tion ex­perts Dr Ran­gan Chat­ter­jee (GP, host of the Feel Bet­ter, Live More pod­cast and au­thor of The Stress So­lu­tion), and Dr Hazel Wal­lace (au­thor of The Food Medic: Recipes and Fit­ness for a Health­ier, Hap­pier You), who an­a­lysed them care­fully – and came up with easy diet and lifestyle tweaks for each.

RC SAYS:

Jonny’s morn­ings are crazy: stress re­ally im­pacts our food choices and in that chaos it’s hard for him to make good choices. Maybe if he could do a 10-minute morn­ing rou­tine, where he sat in si­lence with his cof­fee, or plugged in a med­i­ta­tion app and grounded him­self, it would be a great way of get­ting his body and mind in a good place for the rest of the day.

It’s clear that he’s us­ing caf­feine to keep him­self go­ing. The half-life of cof­fee is about six hours, so if you have one at lunchtime a quar­ter of that will still be in your blood at mid­night. It will al­most cer­tainly be af­fect­ing his sleep and he’s go­ing to be wak­ing up tired and more prone to stress.

It’s the same with al­co­hol. By Fri­day night, Jonny is free-pour­ing G&TS. There’s no way he’s go­ing to sleep well. I don’t want to be a killjoy, but I think he is try­ing to soothe the stress in his life with al­co­hol and cof­fee. A mid­week yoga class ei­ther on his way home or on­line af­ter the kids are in bed would break that stress cy­cle that sends him hurtling to­wards the week­end.

HW SAYS:

Over­all, Jonny has a pretty bal­anced diet: it’s great to see he has a good home-cooked din­ner every night, which is of­ten a veg­etable dal or pasta dish. He could con­sider mak­ing twice as much for din­ner and bring­ing some for lunch the next day. To get some ad­di­tional veg­eta­bles into his diet, he could add a por­tion of cooked greens or salad, and chop up some veg­eta­bles to have with hum­mus as a mid-af­ter­noon snack.

Break­fast seems to be a grab-and-go sit­u­a­tion – to com­bat this, he could pre­pare his break­fast the night be­fore. This might be overnight oats, or Greek yo­gurt with fruit and gra­nola, or a pro­tein shake with a ba­nana.

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