According to figures from the Office for National, Statistics Brits are underestimating their calorie intake by 50%, with men typically consuming 1,000 more calories every day than they account for, while women consumed 800 more than they account for. With obesity levels in the UK more than trebling in the last 30 years, these findings fuel national concern even further. Our health experts have listed different ways to help change your lifestyle and get your health back on track.
Tackle your physical inactivity
Physical inactivity is one of the biggest health risks in today’s society and can be a significant contributing factor to obesity, heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes. A recent study by researchers in the Netherlands found that breaking up sitting down with light activities, such as walking, brought about significant improvements to being overweight or obese. “Set a reminder to make sure you have a brief walk around the office to get yourself moving and always opt to take the stairs,” says Carnation Footcare Podiatrist Dave Wain (www.carnationfootcare.co.uk).
According to the same study, light-intensity walking to break up periods of sitting also improved glucose levels and insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes. However, research conducted by CuraLin Diabetic Supplement found that of over 2,000 Brits that have Type 2 Diabetes, a quarter (25%) were not taking any steps at all to improve their future health. Type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle disease that can be managed by taking steps to improve your lifestyle such as improving your physical inactivity, upping your exercise and improving your diet.
Nutritionist and Fitness Instructor Cassandra Barns adds, “Alongside these healthy diet and lifestyle changes, we can look to herbs and plant extracts to support balanced blood sugar levels too. CuraLin (www.curalife.co) is a specially formulated dietary supplement containing ten herbs and plant extracts traditionally used to support insulin sensitivity and help keep blood glucose under control. A word of caution, however: if you’re being treated for type 2 diabetes, consult your doctor before changing your diet or exercise or starting a supplement.”
Stop your emotional attachment to food
“Emotional or ‘comfort’ eating can be a key cause of weight gain. Because it doesn’t depend on hunger, comfort eating can often be uncontrolled – you don’t necessarily stop when you’re full. What’s more, the most ‘comforting’ foods tend to be sugary foods and carbohydrates, which are easy to overeat and can quickly lead to weight gain when consumed in excess,” explains Cassandra.
“Learning to manage your emotions in a different way can help stop emotional eating and help you lose weight if you need to do so. Exercise can be a great way to channel and relieve stress – you may do well with relaxing exercise such as yoga, or something more strenuous to ‘punch it out’ such as kickboxing. Journaling is another popular way to express yourself and let emotions come out,” adds Cassandra.
Plan your meals
“Plan your meals a few days or a week in advance. By already knowing what you’re going to eat, you eliminate the factor of spontaneity and uncertainty. If you don’t have to think about what to eat at the following meal, you will be less tempted and less likely to experience cravings,” explains Nutritionist and Weight Loss Coach Pippa Campbell (www.pippacampbellhealth.com).
Get your heart rate up
In addition to tackling your physical inactivity, it is important to ensure you are scheduling in at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week. Cassandra explains, “Exercising is an appetite suppressant. It stimulates the release of feel good hormones – the same ones, which are released by sweet or ‘junk’ foods, stopping the need for the food you are craving.”
Cassandra suggests that you find a work out buddy or a fitness class that you love, so that exercising isn’t thought of like a chore. “Exercising on your own, whether it’s working out in the gym or going for a run, can be a joyless experience. But exercising with others in a class can be motivating and much more fun, especially if there’s great music too. When you try a class, give it two or three chances before you decide whether you want to continue or move on to something else: sometimes it takes a few weeks to start to learn the moves, feel comfortable and really get to love it.”
If your diet is lacking in protein then you may be more inclined to go back for seconds. “Including protein in your meal helps to slow down digestion, leaving you feeling more satisfied and fuller for longer. In-turn, this can help with weight loss as you’re less likely to have as many calories. To ensure you’re getting your daily dose of protein, try a plant-based protein powder. They are easy to digest and can be kept low-calorie. They can be used to make smoothies or shakes, and also added to savory foods such as stews and soups. I’d recommend Natures Plus Almond Protein Powder (£40.50, www.naturesplus.co.uk),” suggests Cassandra.
Manage your stress
Do you struggle to control your stress levels? This can have an impact on your weight. “After a stressful event cortisol levels in the blood often remain high for a while, effectively increasing your appetite because your body thinks you should refuel after all this fighting or fleeing. This means people under constant stress quite often feel constantly hungry. Worse, their body urges them to stock up on the foods it thinks will be most useful after all that ‘activity’ – carbohydrates (like sugar) and fats,” explains Leading UK Nutritionist and author of Fat Around the Middle, Dr Marilyn Glenville (www.marilynglenville.com).
Get personalised nutrition
Have you followed all the recommended advice, yet continuously struggle with losing weight? Everyone is different and what may work for some, might not for others. Find what works for your body by delving deeper into your DNA. Nutrition and Weight Loss Coach, Pippa Campbell, runs a three-month Metabolic Balance programme that is 100% personalised and actively supports a person’s own biochemistry and nutritional needs (£890, http://www.pippacampbellhealth.com/metabolic-balance/). To begin a blood sample is taken from the client, which is then analysed by medical experts, so that a customised and unique plan can be prepared. The programme aims to strengthen and balance your entire hormonal system, so that you are able to naturally manage weight loss, through minimising hunger and reducing cravings.
“Metabolic Balance is a long-term approach to feeling and looking in peak health and is backed by 20 years of research by physicians and nutritionists, that has helped over 600,000 clients in 28 countries worldwide. The plan entails eating three meals a day of normal, wholesome foods,” explains Pippa.