Diet culture has us believing that cutting something out of our diets is the only way to lose weight and be the healthiest, happiest versions of ourselves. We are led to believe that carbohydrates, refined sugars, gluten, meat, dairy or fat are the issues to all our problems. We’re told that if we want to be healthy or lose weight, cutting something out of our diet is the best way to do it. Unless we have allergies, intolerances or just don’t like something then we do not need to cut certain food groups or types of foods out of our diets. Granted, too much of one thing is not going to benefit us however, moderation allows for variety, it allows for balance, it allows for sustainability with our food choices.
Diets often work for most of us for the short term as cutting a major food group or type of food out of our diet will allow for a calorie deficit in disguise (they don’t want us to know that!). Diet companies want us to be strung along believing this is the only way I can lose weight. Allowing us to believe it must be ‘this/that’ that is causing me to be overweight or unhealthy. But no, there is not one lone food group that is extremely bad for us and causes us to be overweight, likewise there isn’t one food group that is the better then all the rest. Do not be fooled by the term ‘superfood’. Allowing ourselves to enjoy everything in moderation will truly be the healthiest, most sustainable way to eat. It will provide us with an array of nutrients that our bodies need and to satisfy our souls.
So instead of thinking about what we can cut out (and as a result more than likely crave), think of what foods we can add to our diet to nourish our bodies, excite our taste buds and find new foods and flavours to experiment with. Allow yourself everything in moderation, enjoy your food and do not lead a lifestyle of restriction.
The Welsh Government published a revised version of a study conducted by the Food Standards agency (Originally published in 2013) in 2017 with findings stating that 78% of adults between the ages 18-65, 77% of adults aged 65 and over and 94% of children aged 11-18 years of age did not meet the 5 a day recommendation of fruit and vegetable consumption per day. And the Health Survey for England has published their findings on consumption of fruit and vegetables of adults and children in England. They found only 29% of adults and 18% of children aged 5-15 ate their 5 portions. This highlights the extremely low consumption of our fruit and vegetables in both Wales and England.
The UK’s ‘five-a-day’ guidelines were developed based on a World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation that consuming 400g of fruit and vegetables per day can reduce risks of chronic diseases, e.g. heart disease, stroke, and some cancers. The guidelines state that everyone should eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. The advice is that children should eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day.
So, what counts as for your five a day, I hear you say?
1) 80g of fresh, tinned or frozen fruit and vegetables count as one portion. However, be careful with tinned as these will have higher sugar/salt content!
2) 30g of dried fruit count as one portion.
3) 80g of beans and pulses count as one portion.
4) 150ml fruit, vegetable juice or smoothie. (Be careful of sugar content. Juices and smoothies are higher in sugar and contain less vitamins and nutrients once the fruit/vegetable is blended).
If you feel you are not consuming enough fruit and vegetables, here are a few helpful tips on how to consume more daily.
1) Add fruit to your cereal, porridge or yogurt. Banana’s, apples and berries are great with these.
2) Why not add grilled (or lightly fried) mushrooms, tomatoes or spinach to your scrambled egg on toast?
3) Add salad such as lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers into your lunchtime sandwich.
4) Why not try a vegetable soup for lunch?
5) Chop up your favourite vegetables into sticks to dip into hummus, cottage cheese or tzatziki as a snack.
6) Make a fruit salad and store in your fridge. You are more likely to fancy some fruit if you see it all chopped and looking beautifully prepared in your fridge when you open the door.
7) The obvious! Having a side dish of vegetables or salad with your main meal e.g. peas or broccoli with Sheppard’s pie or a with some salmon or roast dinner. (Remember you will have a portion of veg in your Sheppard’s pie if you use carrots and onions in the recipe).
8) Choosing a tomato based sauce for a meal rather than creamy or cheesy sauces.
9) Add vegetables to your pizza e.g. sweetcorn, peppers, mushrooms and to your favourite burger.
10) Add beans or lentils to soups and stews.
I have recently had many people ask me, ‘how do you always have motivation to exercise?’ so I thought I would write a little blog post to hopefully shed some light on motivation.
Motivation is ‘a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way’. When thinking of having motivation to train, most people believe it is waking up every morning, excited and determined. Yes, most of the time I feel this way and the reasons I believe for this are:
1) I have found a genuine love for exercise (Both resistance and cardiovascular)
2) I love the way I feel after I have finished my session
3) It not only makes my body feel better, stronger and more functional, but it also clears my mind
4) After having a baby recently, I love the way it makes me feel I am taking the time to look after myself
5) I love seeing improvements in strength and cardiovascular performance
6) I like to feel good in my own skin
However, there is no secret to being motivated, motivation isn’t always there. Some days I wake up and I really cannot be bothered. I don’t want to put my gym kit on, I don’t feel like pushing myself or I don’t feel like moving off the sofa but I do it, regardless of what my mind is telling me (disclaimer if you are ill/injured you should listen to your body). I could find a million excuses and just sack it off, but I don’t, I push on through, do the session and don’t look back. It has become a habit! This is key! Once exercise becomes part of your lifestyle and routine you will do it regardless. Like I always tell my clients, I know many of us may not feel like doing it but I don’t know anyone who looks back after a session and thinks ‘I wish I didn’t do that session’, but we are more than likely to wish that we did it.