1: Omit snacking.
This is a game changer. It gives your gut a much needed chance to repair, reduces energy intake, therefore helping with fat loss, and helps you to better enjoy your main meals. Keep snacks out of the house, no one needs them. Of course the occasional one is very lovely but keep it to special occasions or when you are out and about.
2: Reduce alcohol consumption.
By all means have a small glass of red wine with dinner but leave it at that; Mediterranean-diet-style. Whilst wine is enjoyable with a meal and red provides polyphenols those polyphenols are available in abundance from healthier foods and over-consumption can contribute strongly to fat gain and other health disruption. A bottle of wine provides over 600 calories. Drink two a week and you’re getting on for a whole day’s food energy.
3: Avoid drinking your calories in general.
Lattes, cappuccinos, carbonated sweet drinks, fruit juices, smoothies, hot chocolate and so on – these ramp up your energy intake hugely and are not nutritionally necessary. Even artificially sweetened drinks cause an insulin response, which can drive hunger, plus they can disrupt the gut microbiome.
4. Eat dinner as early as possible.
As the evening wears on your body becomes less efficient at digesting food and dealing with blood sugar, this can lead to enhanced fat gain as well as a dysfunctional gut. Leave at least four hours between your last food of the day and bed.
5. Match your carbohydrate intake to your energy output.
Wholesome carbs provide valuable nutrients, so cutting them out is not sensible for most people (or enjoyable) but they provide starch which your body readily uses for energy. If it goes unused by your muscles it will be converted to fat.
6. Make the vegetables the main event on your plate, with carbs and protein the sidekicks.
Vegetables are nutrient dense and give you critical fibre which feeds your gut microbes. In turn those microbes perform all sorts of functions to keep you healthy and feeling great. Half a plate of veg is the way forward, colourful and varied across the week.
7. Eat some fermented foods daily.
Plain yoghurt, kefir, certain cheeses, sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi – they’ a’re delicious and they make your gut microbes very very happy. Your gut microbes are collectively like another organ in terms of their functionality – look after them and they will look after you.
8. Bread is a staple, so make it good.
Essentially it should be no more than flour, water and salt. Any additives should be nutritious ones such as added grains or seeds. Pap mass-produced bread can disrupt the gut and nutritionally extremely poor. Real bread tastes beautiful and is so much better for you, and more filling.
9. Try following a Mediterranean-style diet.
It’s a dietary approach that has years of robust research behind it, showing its multiple health benefits. It comprises whole grains, plenty of colourful vegetables, some fruit, fermented foods like Greek yoghurt, nuts, seeds, pulses, extra virgin olive oil, fish and lastly poultry and meat in much smaller quantities than people generally eat.
10. Get outside in the fresh air every day and move, if possible in natural space.
Walking is a wonderful activity on so many levels. It exercises you, gives you headspace, helps to control blood sugar, aids digestion and exposes you to the elements – importantly to sunlight. You can lose weight without exercise but you will not be optimally healthy. Exercise is vital to health and healthy longevity, and it makes you feel so great!
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