Health

7 ways to eat healthy and lose weight

If the old way of dieting has not worked for you, try tweaking it using these tips

You may have tried going on diets such as Atkins, ketogenic, paleolithic. But have any of those worked for you?The losing weight conversation is always changing with the discovery of new foods and research. So let us compare the old and new diet recommendations.

CALORIES

THEN: Cut 3,500 calories a week to lose 450g of fat

NOW: Slash 10 calories (42kJ) a day from your diet

The theory once held that 450g of fat equalled 3,500 calories. So to lose 450g a week, you would slash 500 calories a day by eating less and exercising more.

But it did not take into account your metabolism slows as your weight drops.

Instead, for every 450g you want to lose, permanently cut 10 calories a day. So to lose 5kg, cut 111 calories a day. You will lose weight slowly, but you will keep it off.

HEALTHY FOODS

THEN: Tell yourself certain foods are off limits

NOW: Focus on what you can eat

People who focus on eating healthy foods they like are more successful at changing their habits than those who fixate on avoiding unhealthy foods they love. So concentrate on loading your diet with foods you enjoy and which are good for you.

WEIGH YOURSELF

THEN: Rarely step on the scales

NOW: Weigh yourself once a week

Keeping tabs on your weight helps you catch and reverse small gains. Do it first thing in the morning, either naked or wearing the same clothes.

EAT VARIETY

THEN: Restrict yourself to the same foods

NOW: Eat a variety

When you feast on a wide range of fruit and vegetables, you are getting varied sources of fibre.

That leads to diverse gut bacteria that foster a healthy gut microbiome, which is associated with a lower body mass index.

Your goal should be to work a new fruit or vegetable into your rotation each week.

ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS

THEN: Use artificial sweeteners instead of sugar and drink diet soft drinks

NOW: Skip the artificial sweeteners

Although they do not add calories, sweeteners generate other issues. A review of studies following more than 400,000 people for 10 years concluded that artificial sweeteners are associated with long-term weight gain.

Why? One theory is that they change the body's way of metabolising sugar, intensify your sweet tooth, or alter your gut bacteria in a way that slows your metabolism.

DARK CHOCOLATE

THEN: Cut the sweets

NOW: Eat dark chocolate often

Sweets are not exactly waist-friendly, but dark chocolate is the happy exception. Eating dark chocolate regularly has been linked to lower body mass index, and research found people who ate it more were thinner than those who had it less often.

A good approach? Have a small square of chocolate labelled at least 70 per cent cacao on as many days of the week as you like. This will satisfy your sweet tooth without the added sugar found in sweets and milk chocolate.

FIBRE

THEN: Eat fibre

NOW: Eat fibre

One guideline that remains the same for staying at a healthy weight is to eat fibre. In one study, people who focused on eating more fibre lost 2kg a year. Fruit, vegetables, beans and wholegrains (such as oatmeal and whole wheat bread) are key sources. When it comes to breads and cereals, look for at least 3g of fibre per serving, and aim for 25g daily from your total food intake.

This article was first published in The Singapore Women's Weekly (www.womensweekly.com.sg).

Food & Drink