• carolinebletcher4

Diet culture has caused many of us to associate losing weight with restriction and a focus on all the things we think we cannot eat or need to cut down on. Of course, restriction usually leads to reducing our calorie intake which in the short-term leads to weight loss, but is this sustainable long term? Read on for a more positive perspective on weight loss to help you with making more sustainable changes that may lead to a happier and healthier you!

Think about what you can add to your diet

Instead of focussing on what you need to cut out of your diet, think about what you can add in to improve the overall balance. Adding extra vegetables and lean sources of protein to your meals can really help with adding bulk, keep you feeling full, and satisfied that you have had a substantial meal. Consuming a variety of different foods, will also help to ensure that you are getting a range of different nutrients which will help to optimise your energy levels and your overall health.

Move in a way that makes you feel good

Doing some form of exercise is a great way to burn extra calories and speed up your weight loss but doing something you enjoy is key to keeping it up. If running is not your thing, or if you are not the sporty type then think of other ways you can move, as after all, any type of movement is exercise. Try taking up a new hobby, exercising with a friend or gradually increasing your step count. Do not set yourself unrealistic expectations, start slowly initially and see how you go.

Avoid categorising foods

When you are trying to lose weight, avoid categorising food as “good” and “bad” foods. There is a place for all food in our diet. If I were to tell you that your diet could only consist of chocolate, then of course this would not be a healthy way of eating but equally it would not be healthy to only eat broccoli - it is all about getting the balance right!

Make choices based on long-term success

Being overly restrictive when trying to lose weight is not the key to long-term success. If you are eating too few calories or feeling deprived, then eventually you will come off track. Research has shown that excessive restriction causes obsessing about food, especially “banned” foods which will more than likely lead to overeating or binge eating and regaining any weight that has been lost. Yes, in the short-term if you are very restrictive you will probably lose weight more rapidly, but in the long-term this way of eating is not sustainable, and you will not achieve lasting weight loss. Ask yourself; “Would I be happy to continue eating in this way long-term?”. If the answer is no, then think about how you can make some changes.

Avoid feeling guilty

Relapses are a completely normal part of everyone’s weight loss journey. The worst thing you can do is make yourself feel guilty with negative self-talk. So often, clients tell me that they have had one “bad day” and completely “blown” their whole weight loss journey. This is simply not the case! In the grand scheme of things, one “bad day” is not going to make much difference. The best thing to do is accept that we will all have “good” and “bad” days. Try to learn from what went wrong and move on as quickly as possible.

Eat food you enjoy

This one may seem obvious but time and time again I hear clients telling me that they are eating something because they think they should or because they think it is healthy. Sometimes people will go as far as eating or drinking something they dislike the taste of! If you are eating in a way that is not enjoyable, the chances are you will eventually come of track. Instead, try experimenting with new foods and recipes you have not tried to further increase your enjoyment of eating.

Ditch the “all or nothing” attitude

If you would describe yourself as someone with an “all or nothing” attitude towards most things in life, then think again before applying this to your weight loss journey. Even if you were to put in 80% effort rather than 100% effort you would still achieve surprisingly good results. Putting in 80% effort allows for some flexibility such as eating out with friends and family and enjoying more of your favourite foods. Remember that the best type of weight loss plan is one that is consistent and sustainable. I think most of us would agree that putting in 100% effort all the time is not sustainable.

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  • carolinebletcher4

The 5 a day campaign is based on research from the World Health Organisation which showed that consuming at least 400g of fruit and vegetables can significantly reduce the risk of developing serious health conditions including heart disease and certain cancers.

Fruit and vegetables are a rich source of vitamins and minerals and fibre and contribute towards a well-balanced diet, but do you know what counts as a portion?

Fruit portions

A portion of fruit is roughly equivalent to:

1 apple, 1 small banana, 1 pear, 120g of grapes, 150g strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries, 2 plums, satsumas or similar sized fruit.

What about dried fruit?

Dried fruit is very concentrated in sugar because the water has been removed from the fruit. If you want to include dried fruit as one of your portions, then be careful with portion size as too much sugar can cause fluctuations in your blood sugar levels leading to fatigue and over-eating at other times in the day. 20g of dried fruit counts as a portion.

Do fruit juices and smoothies count?

Similarly to dried fruit, fruit juice can also be high in sugar because the fibrous part of the fruit has been removed. A 150ml glass of fruit juice counts as a portion. However, only 1 glass a day will count, if you have additional glasses then these will not count. Smoothies however might count as more than 1 portion. For example, if your smoothie contains 2 fruit portions or 1 portion of fruit and 1 portion of fruit juice then this would count as 2 portions.

Vegetable portions

A portion of vegetables (80g) is roughly equivalent to:

2-3 heaped tablespoons of any vegetable, 1 dessert bowl of salad, 200ml bowl of vegetable soup.

Do potatoes count?

Although potatoes are vegetables, they do not count towards your 5 a day because their main component is starch. Sweet potato and other root vegetables such as parsnips, swede and turnips however do count.

Are frozen vegetables okay?

Yes. Vegetables or fruit do not need to be fresh. Frozen, canned or tinned will all count.

Is it okay to eat 5 portions of the same fruit or vegetable?

To get a variety of different nutrients in your diet then you should try to eat a variety of different fruits and vegetables. Try to eat a rainbow of different coloured fruit and vegetables to get maximum benefits.

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  • carolinebletcher4

Updated: Apr 21

The last year has no doubt been a challenging one for us all, with many of us finding that boredom or stress has led to craving high sugar and high fat foods causing us to pile on a few unwanted extra pounds.

Don’t despair as you are not alone! These top tips will help you to get back on track so that you are feeling more energised and body confident, just in time for Summer and post-lockdown celebrations.

Eat enough protein

Protein is an especially important component of the diet, particularly when you are trying to lose weight. Protein can help to keep your blood sugars steady, keep you feeling full and prevent cravings. Good sources of protein include meat, fish, eggs, beans, pulses, tofu, quorn and soy protein meat alternatives. As a starting point aim to include a source of protein in at least 2 meals per day.

Don't forget about carbohydrate

In recent years carbohydrates have been largely demonised in the media and as a result many believe that the key to success is to significantly reduce them or cut them out altogether. Contrary to this, carbohydrates are the bodies primary energy source and therefore an important component of the diet. Without them you would find yourself feeling quite lethargic and potentially very hungry.

Aim to base your meals on a source of starchy carbohydrate such as potato, rice, pasta or bread. Limit refined carbohydrate options such as added sugars found in biscuits, cakes and sweets. As well as being high in calories, these can also lead to fluctuations in blood sugar levels which can leave you feeling hungry.

Fill up on fibre

Similarly to protein, fibre can help to keep you feeling full for longer. Dietary sources of fibre include wholegrains, pulses, beans and fruit and vegetables. including plenty of vegetables on your plate in-particular will add bulk to your meals and leave you feeling satisfied whilst helping to keep your calorie intake down. Fibre has also been shown to improve cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of developing bowel cancer.

Watch your fat intake

Fat in the diet is important for several reasons including supporting cell growth, hormone production and for helping the body to absorb nutrients. When you are trying to lose weight however, portion control is key as fat is the most calorie-dense macronutrient. In the UK many of us already consume too much fat as it is contained in many of the foods we already eat. Be careful not to add too much extra fat to your food and choose lower fat protein and dairy options such as fish, poultry, lean mince, tofu or reduced fat cheese.

Get the balance right

To lose weight successfully, and more importantly keep the weight off you should aim to eat a well-balanced diet whilst eating in a calorie deficit. At your lunch and evening meals try to fill up ½ of your plate with non-starchy vegetables, ¼ of your plate with starchy carbohydrate and ¼ of your plate with a source of protein. This will ensure you get the right balance to optimise your energy levels, keep you feeling full whilst losing weight at the same time.

Include some healthy snacks

Including 2-3 healthy snacks between your meals can support you with keeping your energy levels up and keep cravings at bay. Try to choose snacks for approximately 100 calories or less. Good options include low-fat Greek yoghurt, oatcakes, a cereal bar, a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit.

Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated is especially important for many reasons. Firstly, dehydration can leave you feeling tired and more likely to gravitate towards high calorie foods. It is also easy to confuse thirst with hunger. Next time you think you might be hungry try having a drink first. Watch out however for hidden calories found in juices, sodas and hot drinks. We should all aim to drink at least 6-8 glasses of fluid per day.

Eat intuitively

Set yourself a target this week to listen to your body and eat according to your hunger. There is a difference between true hunger and a craving. Hunger is a physical sensation that builds gradually over time. You may notice sensations such as your stomach rumbling or struggling to focus. Cravings tend to come on very quickly and involve the urge to eat a specific food, for many of us this is for something sweet. As well as coming on quickly cravings also tend to pass quickly so if you can distract yourself, even for 10-20 minutes you may find the craving passes.

Challenge your inner ‘food police’

Have you frequently found yourself falling into a pattern of yo-yo dieting? Challenging your feelings and attitudes towards certain foods may help you to break free from this cycle.

When we are trying to lose weight our inner ‘food police’ may be telling us that certain foods are completely off bounds. Restricting certain food groups can be counter-productive and lead to us craving these foods, binging on them, and then returning to old habits. Remember all foods can be enjoyed in moderation, even chocolate! Next time you want to eat something you think you shouldn’t, challenge your thoughts by asking yourself, am I hungry? Do I feel like it? And if so, how much would be enough?

Take part in exercise

Ultimately, losing weight is all about burning off more calories than you are consuming. Increasing your physical activity levels can therefore help to speed up your weight loss. A combination of both cardiovascular and resistance training exercise will give you optimum results. Aim to start slowly initially. Did you know that just by including an additional 20 minutes of walking per day the average person would burn enough calories to lose almost 1 stone of weight in a year?!

Thanks for reading :)

You can find further information on losing weight by clicking on the links below.

Useful sources:



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