Healthy Eating - Tips & Tricks
Your body often doesn't know the difference between hunger & thirst, so:
next time you think you're hungry, have 2 glasses of water and wait15
minutes before putting any food in your mouth. You may well find you
weren't hungry at all, and if you truly are hungry, perhaps it will create a
pocket of time to choose and prepare a healthy snack or meal rather than
reaching for the closest (likely to be less healthy) snack.
Food takes 15-20 minutes to reach your stomach, so if you eat quickly it's
easy to overeat, or think you're hungry when you're not. Try to eat slowly
by taking a sip of water between every few mouthfuls, setting your
cutlery down regularly, only loading up your spoon or fork once you've
finished chewing and swallowing your previous mouthful.
Avoid Becoming “Hangry”
Do you get angry when you're hungry? Many of us do! If hunger/fullness
was a 1-10 scale, try to stay between 3 and 7 on the “hunger scale” – not
starvingly hungry, and never overfull. If you are very hungry your body's
metabolism will slow down, going into “famine mode” which makes it
harder to burn fat, and you're also much more likely to reach for a high
energy, high sugar, less healthy snack. If you are overfull you have eaten
too many calories and you've stretched your stomach, which makes you
more hungry next time. Keep track of times when you are either really
hungry or overfull, and try to find ways to avoid these situations (eg. keep
a small healthy snack like an apple or banana in your handbag so you can
regulate your hunger and blood sugar levels).
Become a “Swapper”
Just like the TV advert in 2014, being healthy doesn't mean deprivation,
but small changes to eating and exercise habits that you can continue in
the long term.
One way of categorising foods is by how long your body takes to break
them down, digest them and for the energy to become available (ie. how
long they're going to keep you feeling full before you're hungry again).
Low GI foods (such as most vegetables, proteins and “complex
carbohydrates”) are good because the energy is released slowly, and you
aren't hungry again quickly, whereas high GI foods (such as highly
processed or sweet food) gives you a quick energy burst, but you'll feel
hungry again quickly.
(Breads, cereals, pasta, rice) provide energy for your body. They are part
of a well balanced diet, so don't fall for the “carbs are bad” fad diets,
however do try to choose low GI carbohydrate options such as multigrain
brown/less processed versions and watch your portion sizes carefully.
Many Australians eat many more carbohydrates and sugars than their
You do need energy at breakfast and lunchtime to fuel you through the
day, but how much energy do you burn after dinner? Many Australians
have large, carbohydrate dense dinners but don't burn all that energy
overnight whilst sleeping. You should feel hungry within an hour or so of
waking, otherwise it may be a sign you've eaten too much the previous
night. Instead try to maximize vitamin & mineral intake throughout the
day by eating lots of vegies and protein, with a smaller carbohydrate
component to your meal.
It can be really difficult to choose the healthy option when it seems
everything these days is labelled as “lite” or “low fat” or “reduced fat”.
The fake sugars many products use to replace the fat is just as bad for
you, (often worse,) so keeping an eye of the GI value of the food, and
reading the sugars column on the label will help you make wiser
“Low Fat” Marketing Tricks
A good example of this is yoghurts – “diet” or “low fat” fruit yoghurts are
usually pretty high in sugar (or fake sugars). Why not try mixing natural
(unsweetened) yoghurt with just a bit of sweetened yoghurt, or add sliced
fruit or just a little drizzle of honey or jam to add a touch of sweetness?
Full fat versions will keep you feeling fuller for longer, so watch your
portion sizes, but keep in mind negotiating these things can be tricky!
Fats are high in energy, and despite the messages we've heard over the
past 10-20 years, they are not all as bad as we've been led to think.
If you're a sweet tooth like me, serving an occasional dessert onto smaller
plates (eg. saucers or little ramekins) with a teaspoon or small dessert
fork alongside a cup of tea will encourage you to serve smaller portions,
and savour each (smaller) mouthful rather than gulping down a larger
Sugary things are full of lots of energy, but most of us eat and drink WAY
more sugar than our bodies actually need, and much more that the
energy we expend. There is also so many “hidden sugars” in processed
foods - start reading food labels and you'll be horrified!
4g of sugar = 1 tsp.
Try working out how many teaspoons of sugar you consume in an average
day it adds up pretty quickly! Eeek! Try reducing it by just 1 tsp a day, and
the cumulative benefit by the end of the year will be 1.5kg sugar!
Find someone to help you stay on track, who will encourage you, give you
positive feedback and keep you accountable to your goals.
Whatever is in the fridge will be eaten
Simple, don't buy it, if it's there you or someone you live with will eat it.
Also shopping when hungry can get dangerous - we tend to buy less
Set Realistic, Long Term Lifestyle Choices
Just like it's pretty hard to get rich quick, it's also hard to lose weight
quickly. Yo yo dieting mucks up your metabolism and is extremely
frustrating – a sure way to set yourself up for failure in the long term.
Instead, make adaptations that you can imagine doing consistently in a
Swap Just a Bit At a Time
Pick just one “swap” per fortnight, and stick to it 6 days a week (with just
a little bit one day a week if you feel like it, rather than missing it and then
over-indulging). Each fortnight swap another old unhealthy habit, for a
new, healthier one. Remember that it's a new “habit”, not an absolute
Every Little Bit Counts
Every healthy choice, whether big or small is a step in the right direction.
Just 5 mins walking every day adds up to be 30 hours by the end of the
year! That's much better than sitting on the couch! Better for your
health, your waistline, your metabolism, your stress levels . . . so feel
proud of each little good choice you make.
Are You Drinking Your Daily Intake of Calories?
It's really easy to drink lots of calories, (and especially sugars) quickly
without realizing – alcohol, cordial, soft drinks and even good old juice. 1
can of soft drink has about 10 tsp sugar . . . but so does the same amount
of orange juice! If you're used to having a glass of wine with dinner during
the week, try just one or two nights a week instead and replace it with a
glass of water instead.
Try to aim for regular sleeping patterns, with roughly 8-10 hours/night
depending on what your body needs and is used to.
Learn to recognise your eating triggers – do boredom, stress, loneliness or
being upset trigger unhealthy or excessive eating for you? Are you eating
to fuel and nourish your body because you're hungry?
Exercise is a great way of helping your metabolism, burning calories,
reducing stress hormones such as cortisol and getting a hit of stress
relieving “happy hormones”. If you've just gone for a walk or gym session,
you're much less likely to “wreck that hard work” by chomping down on
unhealthy food, because you just don't feel like it, but you will need to
refuel within an hour of moderate or intense exercise to help stabilize
your blood sugars. However despite popular misconception, just because
you're doing exercise, this does not mean you can eat whatever you want,
as just one tim tam is the same as a 15min jog or 40minute walk! It's
really easy to eat more calories than what you have time, fitness, or self
discipline to burn off!
Savour It – Make it a Meal
Rather than nibbling out of a packet absent mindedly, and then realizing
that the packet is almost empty (oops!), try “making it a meal” sitting
down with your food on a plate so you can see how much you're eating.
Want to Read More?
“If Not Dieting Then What?” by Dr Rick Kausman is a great, helpful and
uplifting book for people seeking long term weight management. It
discusses some of the psychological barriers and unhelpful habits that
many people can identify with, and offers some helpful solutions. He also
has a good website for reading more.
Want some Help?
We encourage you to see a dietician, who can help educate, empower
and encourage you as you make healthy lifestyle choices about food.
We recommend recommend Fiona Rowell at Nourish, or Maree Taylor at
Cascade Road Medical Centre, who have both done the "If Not Dieting
Then What?" courses with Dr Rick Kausman.