Brian Mackenzie provides some nutritional advice on what and what not to eat.
Skipping meals or reducing your calorie intake does not help control weight in the long term. It is important to eat at regular intervals, ideally every 3-5 hours, as this helps to keep blood sugar levels stable.
Most of us do not drink enough water. Symptoms of dehydration include dizziness, lack of concentration, irritability and headaches. Aim to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day and you will stay well hydrated.
Your mother was exactly right when she forced you to eat up your greens. We should be eating 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day for general health. To allow your vegetables to retain as much goodness as possible, put them into a pot of boiling water and cook them quickly.
Beware the hidden fat foods, which are normally those tasty party foods quiche, sausages, pork pie, salami, and dips are some examples. Of course, biscuits, cakes and desserts should also be kept to a minimum and only eaten as a special treat. When you buy yoghurt go for low 'live bio' versions. These help to restore the 'good' bacteria that aid digestion.
Bread, potatoes and pasta are all carbohydrate foods that have received bad press in the past. These foods do not make you fat on their own. However, if you have a big cheese sandwich, a knob of butter on your potato (or have chips) or make a rich cream sauce for the pasta you will increase the amount of fat you are eating.
Alcohol taken in moderation can be beneficial to health, but if you are watching your weight it is relevant to know that the calories from alcohol cannot be used as fuel for exercise, nor do they provide any vitamins, minerals or fibre.
The butter versus margarine debate continues to rage. The best advice is not to eat a lot of either, but to eat a little of both. The best oil for cooking is Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It is not the cheapest but a little goes a long way.
Dairy products are a high source of fat and cholesterol, BUT they do provide us with other beneficial nutrients. The best approach is to buy "low fat" versions of milk, cheese, yoghurt etc. as they will provide you with all the nutrients without the fat element.
It is not necessary to cut meat out of your diet. Instead, buy the leaner cuts and trim off any fat. It is also recommended to eat oily fish (tuna, mackerel, herrings) at least 3 times a week as they contain the beneficial Omega 3 oil.
Finally, whoever said "a little of what you fancy does you good" was probably right - exercise moderation in all things and you cannot go too far wrong. It is not what you eat between Christmas and New year that makes the difference but rather what you eat between New Year and Christmas.
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About the Author
Brian Mackenzie is a British Athletics level 4 performance coach and a coach tutor/assessor. He has been coaching sprint, middle distance and combined event athletes for the past 30+ years and has 45+ years' experience as an endurance athlete.
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