Forget calorie counting, and the latest dieting do’s & don’ts.
The easiest way to improve YOUR diet is to change the balance on your plate.
Tips for success
Don't like vegetables or fruit?
Could this be a game changer? Could this help explain why you feel overweight or unhealthy in other ways and why you want to change your eating habits for the better?
Here are some simple strategies to try as a first step change:
1. Make a list of any veggies, salad or fruit that you currently do eat (perhaps without realising, so look carefully at what you are eating!)
2. Add some finely chopped vegetables into dishes that have a rich-flavoured sauce, such as Bolognese, curry, stews, soups, chilli, lasagne
3. Add some veggies (eg sliced mushroom, peppers, tomato, onion, sweetcorn) on top of your pizza and cover with a thin layer of grated cheese. Just make sure the volume of veggies is more than the layer of cheese!
4. Love puddings? make it a rule that you always have some fruit with whatever pudding you eat
5. Use balancedplate.co.uk for ideas how you can include more veggies, salad and fruit into your favourite dishes.
Mindgames: Are you truly committed to changing how and what you eat and how active you are for good?
Maybe not yet but you could make a commitment with yourself to make just ONE change and focus on that, so it's easier to manage within your normal daily routine. So, if you are ready, willing and able to promise yourself this one change is for good, then you've made the first step.
Balancedplate is NOT a diet to follow for a while, before going back to how you ‘normally' eat – this is about adapting your normal into a new, healthier and sustainable way of eating and living.
Family focus: It's not easy changing the habits of a lifetime, so get your family and friends to support you.
Balancedplate is designed to be used by all the family, and if you're cooking for the family then get them all involved and have some fun planning new meal variations together!
Avoid cooking different foods for yourself and the rest of your family -eating together at least once a week is good for so many aspects of family life, as well as setting a good example to young children to help them develop good eating habits from the start.
Tips for weight management:
Eating is far more pleasurable if you eat mindfully. How?
That means you savour the flavour of each and every mouthful. How?: DON'T rush your food; DON'T eat while at your desk or in front of the TV. DO take your time; DO think about what's in your mouth and appreciate every taste sensation to the full. Have you ever tried popping one square of good quality dark chocolate into your mouth and letting it melt slowly? Don't be tempted to chew just take your time- this is a great way to show how slowing down your eating and being mindful of every taste bud makes food all the more enjoyable- start to think quality not quantity.
No foods are forbidden:
Some foods are more useful to us than others, but eating is far more than nutrition, it's social, sensual and satisfying too! Even if you are watching your weight having a list of foods you shouldn't eat is depriving yourself and eventually you will rebel! So if you have a favourite ‘no-no' food, plan a set time to indulge it, allow yourself a small portion and take the time to savour every morsel. You might even find that it's not as great as you believed it was, once you start to taste the detail! On the other hand if it's still as wonderful, you've found a way to control when and how much you eat so as not to ruin all your hard efforts. It's much easier to wait having told yourself when you can indulge than try to stick unrealistically to rigid rules about forbidden foods.
Do you really know what you are eating? Keep a food, activity and mood diary
Use it to track not just what you eat but why you eat too. Were you really hungry? What was going through your mind at the time? Could you be emotionally in turmoil, upset, needing a reward, under pressure to get a job done, or simply bored; or was it a habit that goes with switching the TV on? Keeping a diary for a while is great to help you think about your portion sizes- perhaps you just need to eat a little less of some foods and more of others?
When temptation sends you down the wrong track, don't despair, use it positively to think about why, what or who caused you to slip back into old habits- add this to your diary and see if over time there's a trend.
Once you've identified what causes you to eat the wrong things, you can think about ways to avoid this- such as always making sure you've got some suitable snacks with you, so you don't get tempted towards unsuitable choices just because you are hungry; or having a diversionary tactic at the ready that doesn't involve food or drink – perhaps walking the dog; taking a bath; or calling a friend for a chat- anything enjoyable that works for you!
How hungry are you really?
Get inside your body’s hunger cues - think about which part of your body is telling you you’re hungry.
It could be your stomach – how long is it since your last meal or snack? If it’s at least a couple of hours and you’ve been pretty active, then you may be physically hungry and need to think about refuelling again- in which case think about choosing a balanced option.
If you last ate something less than a couple of hours ago, then the hunger signals you are experiencing may be linked more to your heart or taste buds.
Are you eating because you are bored, for comfort, or to avoid thinking about a particular problem maybe? Eating for your heart/emotions/habits will only give some temporary relief from a situation, so understanding these cues is a first step to breaking the cycle.
Are you seeking a particular taste sensation ‘something sweet’ for instance? Or do you just like having something to munch on in certain situations, such as when watching TV? Either way, getting to understand and analyse your hunger pangs is a good first step to taking back control of them.
Is snacking good for you? Smart snacking is!
Snack with thought to fill a genuine hunger gap and avoid mindless nibbles throughout the day by planning ahead for hunger gaps. As a rule, whole fruit and vegetables, plain milk, nuts and seeds are better options than snacks with added sugar, juices, smoothies, sports energy drinks, biscuits and most cereal bars.
The balance equation is not just about what foods you eat. Optimise your health with equal focus on your daily exercise as well as what you eat.
Keeping fit for health is more successful when you build some exercise into your normal daily routine – there's no need to go to the gym or take up running if that's not your thing- walking, swimming, housework and gardening all count. Take the stairs rather than the lift- up and down! And take the stress out of trying to find a parking space close to your destination (along with everyone else!). Instead aim straight for the less crowded back of the car park- not only is it easier to find a space but the short walk across the car park to your destination will top up your daily exercise levels!
Physical activity has many other health benefits, helping you feel happier, improving confidence and increasing energy levels. That ‘feel-good factor' regular exercise creates will be enhanced by regular balanced meals and snacks, so get going!