8 simple diet rules

Want to lose weight? Make these eight simple diet rules part of your lifestyle and you will be on your way to permanent weight loss, says registered dietician Kim Hoffmann:

  1. Eat regularly

    Eating regularly one of the most important aspects as this will help to keep your blood sugar levels constant. And keeping your blood sugar levels constant will ensure that you have constant energy, no cravings, stable mood and it increases your metabolism (how much energy your body needs in a day) as well as allows your body to tap into its fat stores. Regular eating means eating every 3-4 hours.
  2. Start early

    It is vital that your body gets its first dose of energy within an hour of getting up and definitely before any morning exercise. This is because of the "overnight fast" that has occurred. There is only a little energy left in your body which will sustain you for a short time. If you do not need eat at this point your body will need to make its own energy, which it will take from either muscle or fat. Muscle is generally the choice if your blood sugar levels are very low. 
  3. Eat a food that converts into sugar every time you eat

    Although the general belief is that "sugar" is bad for us, our bodies actually need sugar (glucose) as the main unit of energy. "Sugar" however comes in many forms, and it is best to keep our intake of simple sugar low (table sugar, sweets, treats etc). The foods that do convert into sugar in our body are starches (bread, crackers, cereals, rice, pasta, potatoes, and starchy vegetables), fruit and dairy (milk and yoghurt).  Choosing from these foods for each meal or snack will allow your body to have "immediate" energy available. From a health and blood sugar control perspective you should choose the higher fibre, lower GI carbohydrates as well as add some low-fat protein or healthy fat to the meal/snack.
  4. When you eat, eat small quantities

    Because you are eating more often in the day your meals and snacks should always be relatively small. Meals can be 2 units plus the protein or fat (for example 2 slices of bread or 1 cup of starch) and snacks can be 1 to 2 units (for example a fruit and a yoghurt or 3-6 provita).
  5. Learn to understand your body’s signals

    The first signal that you need to "hear" is hunger. There are 2 hungers though – stomach hunger and mouth hunger. You need to learn to feed only the stomach hunger with food! The second signal is the satiety signal – the signal that tells you when to stop eating. Being satisfied is very different to being too full! These signals will come back if you start eating regularly. 
  6. Eat most of your kilojoules in the morning

    Unfortunately, our tendency is to eat very little during the day and a large meal in the evening. This is however not when our bodies need the energy. Try to get into the habit of eating most of your food in the first half of the day. The significance of this is that if you eat more in the mornings you will not feel too hungry in the evenings and a small supper will suffice. 
  7. Consistency is key

    The longer you continue with this style of eating the better your body will respond to food in the long run. Many of my clients cannot believe that they do not gain weight after a "bad" day once they have been on the programme for a couple of months. This is because your metabolism will be improving and your body is then able to "burn off" extra kilojoules short term. The important point is to always get back into the right eating pattern at the very next meal.  
  8. If it feels like a diet, you are doing it wrong

    This is not supposed to be a punishment. Once you get into a good routine it should be easy to continue with every day. Make sure it fits into your lifestyle and includes the foods that you enjoy so that it doesn’t feel like a diet.

Written by registered dietician, Kim Hoffmann, of The Lean Aubergine Dietetic Services. To sign up for the monthly Lean Aubergine newsletter send an e-mail to kimh.rd@mweb.co.za or karenrd@mweb.co.za

(Pic of woman with apple from Shutterstock)

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