If lock down has brought about one thing it is an increased interest or awareness in food. Although ending, the closure of restaurants and cafes meant that we all had to go back to our kitchens. Whether on TV, social media or in messages to friends and family- pictures of food and recipes are everywhere. That coupled with the media being rife with fitness regimes and cooking shows has put it to the forefront of peoples minds. This alongside perhaps more time on our hands could cause people to question their weight, fitness level and relationship to food. Perhaps with long lasting effects.
This focus placed upon food, weight and the idea of perfection can often lead to goals that are both unattainable and even dangerous in terms of eating disorders and mental health issues. Weight management and healthy eating are linked but looking at the two factors objectively is important to make the right choices.
There are a range of health problems caused by obesity and so to take better care of ourselves weight management needs to be done in the right way. It is important to take the steps to create a balance between managing our weight and still enjoying a balanced, healthy diet.
The finer details of healthy eating and weight management will inevitably vary from person to person. We are all different after all. We like different things, we are all different shapes and sizes and we all have lives full of different commitments and time restraints, not to mention hereditary, metabolic and hormonal factors.
Overall, a general set of ground rules can be applied to all of us.
Aiming for balance, not perfection
Anyone who already has the right balance between managing their weight and diet will testify that making it a natural part of your daily routine will give you the best chance of success.
We are far more likely to maintain a healthy diet if it is balanced. Five portions of fruit and vegetables a day might sound drastic to some, yet a tablespoon of dried fruit with our breakfast cereal, a banana at mid-morning and a simple side salad or portion of vegetables with dinner combined with fresh fruit and yoghurt for dessert is all it takes to get the vitamins, minerals and fibre you need.
You could also think about the things you really enjoy and making small changes that will enable you to keep enjoying them. Wholemeal pasta and bread, baked potatoes and brown rice all give us the starch we need but are much better for our health than their fried or non-wholemeal alternatives.
Milk and dairy produce are a good source of protein and calcium which is important for healthy bones. Simply opt for lower fat versions such as semi-skimmed milk, unsweetened, calcium rich alternatives and cottage or lower fat hard cheeses.
When it comes to fresh meat and fish, few foods are as rich in vitamins such as vitamin B and B12, as well as iron, zinc and other proteins and minerals, all of which are important for a balanced diet. Try to opt for lean cuts and grill them if possible. When it comes to fish, aim for two portions a week either fresh or frozen and remember that smoked and tinned fish can be high in salt.
An active lifestyle
Physical activity plays a vital role in weight management. Simple changes can have an impact in just the same way.
Starting the morning by drinking water and keeping hydrated throughout the day will go a long way towards ensuring you have the energy to sustain your increased activity levels. As for the activities themselves, it doesn’t need to be groundbreaking.
Simple changes can involve walking to work, a different commute or something as easy as taking the stairs or parking a few streets away to enjoy a walk in preparation for your day. Cycling is also growing in popularity, especially in the warmer months.
At home you might take the time to cook for yourself and your household instead of ordering that takeaway. Spend more time in the garden or head outdoors with family on those quiet weekend afternoons at home.
The changes we make both to our diets and wider lifestyles don’t need to be big to make a real impact. Small changes can all combine to empower us to manage our weight and enjoy a fitter, healthier life.