HEALTHY FOODS — By Mini Padikkal — Weight increase and obesity are becoming a great problem among most people all around the world. The main culprits are sedentary lifestyles and excessive consumption of high-fat, high-calorie fast food. Overweight not only affects your looks, but also your health. While formulating weight-loss programmes, there are certain tips to consider:
Drink 3 litres of water a day: Drink around 8-12 glasses of water. It is important to drink enough water when starting an exercise programme because your body will release toxins and they need a way to escape. It is also essential for weight loss because it helps flush the system, carrying fat out. People have been known to jumpstart weight loss by drinking the proper amount of water daily.
Start your day with water, instead of tea, coffee or fruit juice. Water serves the dual purpose of cleansing your system and increasing your basic metabolic rate.
Try to eat 5-6 small meals a day: If you only eat one or two meals a day, this might sound very overwhelming. Try adding one meal at a time until it becomes a habit. Start with eating breakfast if you don’t already. Or try only eating half your sandwich for lunch and eating the other half later in the afternoon. The idea is to keep your metabolism smooth and active.
Choose complex carbohydrates over simple sugars: Carbs found in oatmeal, whole grain breads and cereals take longer to burn off, so they keep your metabolism active for a longer period of time. Simple sugars are found in fruit, white flour and candy.
Select a mix of colourful vegetables each day: Different coloured vegetables provide different nutrients. Choose dark, leafy greens such as kale, mustard greens, red and oranges like carrots, sweet potatoes and tomatoes.
Choose fresh fruit more often than fruit juice. Fruit juice has little or no fibre.
Increase the content of fibre in your daily diet: Fibre acts as an important nutrient source with minimal amount of calories. Fibre is absorbent in nature — when you eat fibre you consume more water, which serves the dual purpose of suppressing hunger and increasing your metabolic rate.
Have dinner at least two or three hours before sleeping: When you sleep soon after having a meal, the digestive process and the metabolic process get sedentary, that is they end up in burning less energy.
Use fat and oils sparingly: Olive, canola, avocados, nuts and nut butters, olives, and fish provide heart-healthy fat as well as vitamins and minerals.
Have low-fat, low-sugar snacks on hand at home, at work, or on the go, to combat hunger and prevent over eating.
Eat sweets sparingly: Limit foods and beverages that are high in added sugars.
The real key to losing weight is consistency. Be committed to your goals, whether it is your diet or exercising. Most of us tend to cheat but remember that you are cheating yourself and no one else. Take small steps. Be patient. If these steps seem overwhelming, pick one thing at a time. Incorporate this into your life style. It will gradually become a habit. Then add a new good habit every week or two. Drink water. Decrease portion sizes. Cut out fried foods. Start eating oatmeal for breakfast. Try to form lasting habits instead of going on another crash diet. You did not gain weight overnight; you don’t need to lose it overnight. Set goals and be proud of yourself when you reach them.
— The writer is a dietician at Atlas Star
Medical Centre, Al Khuwair, Muscat.