Weight Loss: Sensible Tip Number 1

Increasingly I am having clients contact me and book into clinic for weight loss support. They have tried the usual paths of fad diets or weight loss groups, initially losing weight but then regaining what they have lost. From my experience of working with people fad diets just don’t work in the long term, but taking control and changing habits can support long term sensible eating compliance.

So, I thought I would share over a series of newsletters a few tips. This first newsletter will provide a little background on the problem and then my first suggestion…you will be surprised

We all know that obesity is a serious public health problem, as it significantly increases the risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart diseases and certain cancers. For specific individuals, obesity may further be linked to a wide range of psychological problems. For society as a whole, it has substantial direct and indirect costs that put a considerable strain on healthcare and social resources.

Just a bit of current information, as well as this according to two studies carried out in New York involving 8,000 people, being over 65 or being obese are the biggest risk factors for becoming seriously unwell with coronavirus.

Closer to home the Health Survey for England 2017 estimates that 28.7% of adults in England are obese and a further 35.6% are overweight but not obese. Also, nearly a third of children aged 2 to 15 are overweight or obese and younger generations are becoming obese at earlier ages and staying obese for longer.

It is estimated that obesity is responsible for more than 30,000 deaths each year. On average, obesity deprives an individual of an extra 9 years of life, preventing many individuals from reaching retirement age. In the future, obesity could overtake tobacco smoking as the biggest cause of preventable death.

Reducing obesity, particularly among children, is one of the priorities of Public Health England (PHE). PHE aims to increase the proportion of children leaving primary school with a healthy weight, as well as reductions in levels of excess weight in adults.

Obesity is a complex problem with many drivers, including:

  • behaviour
  • environment
  • genetics
  • culture

Today I would like to look at behaviour so Tip number 1

  1. Stop dieting and don’t count calories. Dieting is a biological unnatural state. It simply does not give your body enough food for what it needs to do. You mind and body goes into survival mode: holding on to the weight you have, slowing your metabolism and telling you to eat, eat. Eat.

This doesn’t mean you eat whatever you want to its about being sensible. Portion control is important. Understanding what a portion is and logging this mentally, is essential. After a few weeks this will become the norm.

Tips for cutting down portion sizes

If you’re looking for better portion control, try these tips a try to retrain your brain (and stomach).

  • Weigh the portions that you’re used to eating every day – whether it’s cereal, pasta, meat or veg – and compare it to this guide. It may be a bit of an eye-opener and can give you an idea what you need to focus on.
  • Use smaller plates or bowls for your meals. A small plate full of food is much more cheerful
  • than a large plate that’s half empty.
  • If your plate is looking a bit sparse, fill it up with vegetables.
  • Try a spray oil to help cut down on the amount you use. You should use a lot less.
  • Try not to eat while doing something that can distract you, such as working, reading or watching TV. This might make you eat more, as you don’t realise you’re full and may eat larger portions.
  • Pay more attention to what you’re eating, making sure you chew each mouthful slowly and thoroughly.

Starchy foods/Carbs

Here are some suggested amounts that you might aim for at each meal, based on an average adult looking to maintain their weight.

  • Five new (small egg-sized) potatoes
  • 75g of uncooked rice or pasta (about 5–6 tablespoons when cooked)
  • One medium baked potato (with skin)

Proteins are important for your body because they’re involved in growth and repair. As well as meat and fish, proteins can come from sources like beans and pulses. Include moderate amounts of protein in your diet – a couple of portions throughout the day should be enough to give you what you need.

Here’s what counts as a portion.

  • 60–90g of cooked meat (about the size of a deck of a cards)
  • 140g of cooked fish (the size of the palm of your hand)
  • Two medium-sized eggs
  • A small (200g) tin of baked beans
  • Four tablespoons of lentils
  • One tablespoon of peanut butter
  • A handful of nuts

Fruit and vegetables

Aim to eat at least five portions or more of fruit and vegetables a day. The amount of fruit and veg you eat should make up just over a third of your diet – most of us don’t eat enough.

One portion is 80g of any fresh fruit or vegetable, 30g of dried fruit

Here are some examples of what a portion looks like.

  • One medium fruit, such as an apple, orange, pear or banana.
  • Two small fruits, such as kiwis, satsumas or plums.
  • A few slices of a larger fruit, such as pineapple (about 2 slices) or one small mango.
  • A large handful of grapes or berries.
  • Three heaped tablespoons of peas, sweetcorn or carrots.
  • A dessert bowl of salad.
  • 30g of dried fruits.

A handful of grapes makes a good snack.

More on Snacks

Dried fruit and nuts make a good option. This healthy combo is full of protein, fibre and healthy fats. However, dried fruit and nuts are a concentrated source of calories, so keep your portions under control to help with weight management.

Don’t eat from the container. Instead, pre-portion your mix into 1/3-cup servings.

The portion may be small, but the fibre in the dried fruit and nuts can satisfy your hunger. A 1/3- cup serving of dried fruit and nuts contains 2 to 3 grams of fibre. Fibre in food makes you feel full after you’ve finished eating and delays hunger. Getting more fibre in your diet, more than 14 grams a day, without changing your usual intake can help decrease total calories by 10 percent,

according to a 2001 review article published in “Nutrition Reviews.” You should aim to consume 30 grams of fibre a day.

Alternative Source of Protein

Dried fruit and nuts are a good source of protein, with 2 to 3 grams of protein per 1/3-cup serving.

Dried fruit

A portion of dried fruit is around 30g. This is about 1 heaped tablespoon of raisins, currants or sultanas, 1 tablespoon of mixed fruit, 2 figs, 2-3 Apricots, 3 prunes.

Fiona Waring 
Dip Nut, BSc.(Hons), MSc PHN, ANutr 

Nutritional Therapist
M: +44 07957 267 964

‘Registered with the Association for Nutrition – www.associationfornutrition.org
Protecting the public and promoting high standards in evidence-based science and professional practice of nutrition.’