The word ‘diet’ can be a bit of a confusing term, often banded about and used to describe a lot more than just trying to lose weight. So what’s the best approach when you just want to be healthy and eat right for your body type? Whatever your goal is, our handy guide will help to determine the best foods for you to maintain a healthy weight and keep your overall wellbeing in check.
Whatever your goal is, our handy guide will help to determine the best foods for you to maintain a healthy weight
You’ve got a healthy BMI and you’re happy with your weight. The hard works done right? Wrong. Now’s the time to check what you’re consuming is optimal too.
Myth: You can eat whatever you want.
You may be happy now, but that’s not a green light to start eating whatever you feel like! Metabolism can slow with age and lifestyle, so remain mindful of what you eat to avoid falling into bad habits.
- Remember the mantra – everything in moderation.
- Enjoy three main meals and a healthy snack twice a day.
- Exercise regularly - from a brisk daily walk to a workout or game of tennis
- Eat a wide variety of foods from the different food groups in a rainbow of colours
- Base your meals around starchy foods such as potatoes, rice and pasta, choosing wholegrain options where possible.
- Get your 5-a-day by eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, keeping with what’s in season.
- Enjoy some protein-rich foods such as lean meat, fish, beans and lentils.
- Keep red meat and dairy to a minimum.
- Avoid saturated fats such as those found in processed foods and pastry-based meats, instead swap for unsaturated fats such as olive oil, oily fish and avocados.
- Avoid added sugar and salt - check labels before you buy.
- Poached eggs on granary toast
- Sandwich and fruit
- Baked fish with roasted veggies
While you may feel proud of your super-slim figure, being underweight doesn’t necessarily equal a healthy body, as you may not be getting enough of the right vitamins and nutrients to keep your body ticking over. This can contribute to many health problems such as a weak immune system, osteoporosis and a lack of energy.
Myth: Eat a high-calorie and high-fat diet.
While eating a lot of calories will help you gain weight, this is not a long-term solution, particularly if it means consuming high levels of saturated fats, salt and sugar. In fact, calorie-loading could lead to gaining excess fat, while the sugar highs will leave you feeling sluggish and tired.
- Rather than eating three larger meals, aim to eat less but more frequently. Consume plenty of healthy snacks such as hummus, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
- Avoid filling up on water before and during mealtimes.
- Focus on meals that you can bulk-up with extra ingredients. Things like porridge, stews, soups, sandwiches are a good option as you can bulk them up with extra ingredients like cheese, cream, vegetables, pulses, nuts, seeds, pasta and meats.
- Exercise regularly and incorporate some resistance training to help build up muscle – the extra muscle will help you gain weight without retaining unhealthy fat.
- Eat foods that are higher in nutrients to increase your lean body mass instead of body fat, such as fruit and vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, whole grains, lean meats, fish and low-fat milk products.
- Choose nutrient-rich drinks, such as homemade juices and smoothies and bulk these out with extras such as seeds and nuts.
- Base your meals around starch and protein-rich foods, such as bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, nuts, beans, eggs, lean meat and fish. A lack of protein in your diet can lead to the loss of lean body mass, even if you're consuming extra calories.
- Avoid water-based foods and swap for foods with more sustenance. Try switching broccoli and green beans for peas, corn or carrots; peaches, berries and melons for bananas, pears, apples and dried fruit and broth-based soups and sauces for cream-based ones.
- Don’t bulk up on fat to try and gain weight. Swap the saturated fats found in processed meats, pies, cakes and biscuits for unsaturated fats, such as olive oil, nuts and avocados.
- Porridge with seeds
- Baked potato with tuna
- Casserole - meat or vegetarian
There may be hundreds of weight loss diets out there but adhering to strict diets usually involves cutting out an essential food group which isn’t good for long-term health benefits.
Rather than concentrating on dropping pounds quickly, it’s important to look closely at what you are eating as you may be filling up the wrong sorts of foods, which down the line can lead to more serious health complications.
Myth: Cut out fat or carbs.
Fat and carbs are still seen as the devils of the weight-loss world, but both are needed for a balanced diet. Cutting out carbs means that you also lose out on fibre, which is necessary for healthy digestion. Removing fat from your diet means that you’ll miss out on the ‘good’ unsaturated fats needed to help absorb vitamins such as B12. Instead, learn how to balance your intake by eating a combination of all the major food groups
- Serve yourself smaller portions. A good tip is to eat from smaller dinner plates – it will trick your mind into thinking you’ve eaten more than you have.
- Drink a glass of water and eat a healthy starter such as soup or salad before meals. This will stop you from overeating your main course.
- Eat slowly and mindfully. It takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to realise that it’s full.
- Plan ahead and prepare your own meals – this means you can control what goes into your food and will stop you from grabbing convenience dishes. Extend this to making your own snacks where possible. Homemade baked crisps contain much less fat than regular crisps and can be easily knocked up by thinly slicing root veg and drizzling with olive oil.
- Exercise at every opportunity to ensure you expend more energy than you consume. If you spend long hours sitting at a desk try to do desk exercises by moving your feet and legs and stretch often. Go for a short walk regularly, and take the stairs instead of the lift.
- Make smart calorie swaps. Switch calorie-laden foods that don’t make you feel full for foods that contain the same amount of calories but keep you fuller for longer, like vegetables, beans and pulses.
- Drop unhealthy methods of cooking like frying in favour of grilling, boiling or steaming and don’t add extra oil or fat.
- Remember: Enjoy what you love, just in smaller quantities!
- Fill up on low-calorie vegetable sides and foods that are high in protein. Aim for at least two portions of veg on your plate and add extra veg to pasta and noodle dishes.
- Stick to ‘good’ carbs i.e. whole grain breads and cereals, beans and legumes, and avoid ‘bad’ carbs such as white bread, pastries and sugar.
- Eat foods high in fibre, such as vegetables, brown bread and rice, pulses and fruit as they take longer to digest, which makes them more filling. Include unsaturated fats such as fish, nuts and plant oils in small quantities and cut down on saturated fats such as fatty cuts of meat, processed meat products, hard cheese, biscuits, cakes, cream, coconut oil, butter and sugar.
- Muesli with fruit
- Hearty salads
- Stir-fry with meat or tofu