Bad habits are an all-too-common enemy of weight loss. But with a few simple tricks to retrain your mind, enjoying a healthy diet is easier to achieve than you might imagine.
Sniffing a packet of chocolate biscuits is sometimes said to satisfy the sweet tooth and remove all desire to devour the decadent treats. Well, it mayor may not work – but it’s worth a shot, and could prove there’s more psychology in your eating habits than you may have thought.
Changing the way you look at foods and broadening your knowledge beyond the ‘quick-fix’ diet fads will pave the way to a more sustainable, healthy lifestyle – starting right here with these top diet tips and tricks.
Satisfy your sweet tooth
The sugar-laden treats we often devour in a moment of weakness release insulin in the blood, which gives us that sudden zap of energy. But that spring in our step swiftly tums to a slump and before too long another wave of glucose cravings sees our hand plunge straight back into the bag of party mix lollies for yet another hit.
Berry suggests the following healthier alternatives to satisfy your sweet desires and break the vicious cycle:
1. Balance your glycaemic index (GI) intake – when having a treat of something sweet, have it with nuts to decrease the sugar spike and sustain energy levels.
2.Choose sugar alternatives with a lower GI, such as agave, raw honey, maple syrup and stevia.
3.Switch from milk chocolate to dark chocolate to reduce your intake of sugar and fat. Artificial sweetener tablets prove not all good things necessarily come in small packages. These dull ‘happy hormone’ serotonin in the brain, which makes you crave anything that will give you a quick hit like sweets and carbohydrates.
Berry recommends consuming foods that contain tryptophan amino acids like turkey, white cheese and bananas to lift serotonin and combat cravings.
Kickstart you metabolism
Metabolism refers to the rate at which your body burns energy (calories), which is why a slow metabolism often results in superfluous fat forming in prone areas such as tummies, hips and thighs. Berry recommends the following foods to kickstart your metabolism:
- Chilli, black pepper and ginger.
- Green tea and ginger tea.
- Lemon water first thing in the morning.
- Coconut water.
In addition, getting enough sleep and enjoying a cleansing session of yogic breathing (pranayama) is also known to have a positive effect on your metabolism.
Chew the fat
Despite popular belief, not all fats are bad. In fact, the human brain is made up of 60 per cent fat. So as you can see, our bodies need a certain amount of fat to function efficiently. The key is separating the good fats from the bad.
- Good fats: Polyunsaturated fats lower total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, and can be found in salmon, fish oil, com, soy, safflower and sunflower oils. Monounsaturated fats also lower total and LDL cholesterol levels while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol levels. So stock up on avocado, canola and olive oil, peanuts, almonds, walnuts and pistachio nuts.
- Bad fats: Saturated fats raise LDL cholesterol levels and are commonly found in animal products such as meat, dairy and eggs, as well as coconut and palm oil. Trans fatty acids in particular should be avoided, and are commonly found in commercially packaged foods, fried foods and highly marbled meats.
Manage mindless eating
We’ve all undone the top button sneakily beneath the dinner table and rolled out like Mr Creosote from Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, but there are ways to avoid dining discomfort and stop before enough becomes too much. Take a page out of the yogic diet and aim for the following belly breakdown:
- Half full of food.
- One fourth full of water, particularly as dehydration often gets mistaken for hunger.
- One fourth full of air.
Hypnotherapist from Extraordinary Therapies Linda Harr believes hypnosis may be the key to breaking the habit of overeating.
“Our behaviours, habits and emotions are located within our subconscious mind,” she says. “Hypnosis has been proven to work most effectively with the subconscious, and therefore is a great therapy if youwish to modify your lifestyle, change your behaviour,and break your emotional connections to food and unhealthy patterns of eating.”
About the author: Linda Harr is a Food & Nutrition expert who writes for Nutrition Comparison Magazine.