One in four Australian adults is obese and a recent study published by the NSW Food Authority and NSW Health found that almost half of us expect to gain additional kilos during the colder months.
Expert nutritionist for USANA, Ravinder Lilly says the temptation to avoid exercise (and the cold) increases during winter, as does our tendency to eat junk foods that make us feel warm and happy. And it’s during this time that many of us turn to (ineffective) diet fads to help maintain our weight.
So as our nation prepares to exercise less, eat more and loosen our belts, our thoughts turn to diet shortcuts – those convenient little diet tricks that require little effort with maximum results. With this in mind, Ravinder shares the five worst ‘diet tricks’ that linger like a bad cold in winter.
1. Meal skipping = Skinny. So many of us are guilty of this one. Unless you enjoy blood sugar spikes and dips, don’t skip meals.
Not only does this affect your mood and energy, it slows down your metabolism and dramatically increases your chances of splurging. Opt for three healthy meals daily with two to three small healthy snacks, eating every few hours and choosing mostly low GI foods.
2. I’ll replace food with coffee! Australia is a coffee drinking nation and approximately 2.1 billion cups of the stuff are slurped each year! Phytochemical compounds in this little bean have been proven to kill hunger pains and thus coffee has become the ultimate go-to snack replacement. However, the average Skim Flat White can total to 128 calorie demons. With Australian’s consuming an average of four cups a day, this amounts to the equivalent calories of two full size Mars bars and a large salmon bagel with cream cheese.
Adding to this, excess coffee drinking is known to provoke ‘fight or flight hormones’. This induced stress can cause anxiety, sleeplessness and increased heart rate and blood pressure, counteracting productive weight loss.
3. Eat cabbage soup all week… then treat yo’self! Ah cheat days, what a beautiful concept. You can stick to your diet plan all week then indulge in a mini blow-out on the weekend, all the while skipping along your strategic path to weight loss. Unfortunately it’s not so simple.
Even if you lose a kilo or two during the week, throwing caution to the wind on ‘cheat days’ creates very unhealthy patterns, can take away all of your prior efforts and can actually lead to weight gain. Stick to a cheat meal system instead. Looking forward to a limited number of cheat meals will help you avoid full blown free-for-alls without completely offsetting your diet.
4. Start counting those calories. Unfortunately not all calories are created equal and counting them certainly isn’t a sure-fire way to lose weight. Although calories are important for understanding portion control, it’s all too easy to fall into the unhealthy mindset of treating a handful of jellybeans the same way you would an apple, simply because they share a calorie count.
The bottom line is that calories from nutrient loaded food versus nutritionally devoid food will cause a very different internal reaction to your body. A calorie from carbs, fat or protein is not even close to being similar and each has a different effect on your metabolism and hormones, ultimately affecting your weight. Always consider quality above quantity.
5. More sleep means no time to eat. The Sleeping Beauty diet, made popular by musical legend Elvis Presley, encouraged followers to send themselves into a blissful slumber over several days in order to cut out food altogether.
Sound a bit dramatic? This could be closer to home than you think. Going be bed early to smother hunger pangs is another dieting failure that has crept in over the years. A regime of brushing teeth after dinner and sipping hot water is followed to mask hunger of those whom have only had a small nighttime meal or have skipped dinner altogether.
Oversleeping has also been scientifically linked to several health conditions including diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
Rather than seeking quick fixes to shed our winter coats, Ms. Lilly stresses there are no short cuts. Fill half of your plate with lightly cooked/raw veggies, a quarter with low GI grains or starches (potato or sweet potato) and a quarter with lean protein to help you maintain your health the right way.