Wednesday 20 September 2017

A weight off your mind: James's recipe for healthy eating and why diets just don't work

'Focus on unprocessed, clean, whole ingredients to create tasty, colourful and abundant dishes, which will make clean eating delicious and do-able long-term'
'Focus on unprocessed, clean, whole ingredients to create tasty, colourful and abundant dishes, which will make clean eating delicious and do-able long-term'

If I said to you: "Stop thinking of the Eiffel Tower," that's the first thing you're going to think of. It's the same as trying not to think about your favourite treat. What you resist persists. Instead, focus on all of those things that you can eat that you enjoy and that will nourish you.

• CALORIES: Are the calories in an avocado equal to the same number of calories in a bag of sweets? No - 40pc of the sugar you eat is converted straight towards body fat. Focus on unprocessed, clean, whole ingredients to create tasty, colourful and abundant dishes, which will make clean eating delicious and do-able long-term.

• JUNK: I call supermarket smoothies liquid lollies. They are not the same as the home-made alternative and many contain more sugar than a fizzy drink. Because a juice is green it doesn't mean it's good for you if it contains six apples and one spinach leaf. Don't fall for gluten-free food like muffins that are processed and refined. Opt for the full-fat version instead - good fat won't make you fat, but it will curb your appetite.

• APPROACH: The most important factor in nutrition is your attitude to food. Be inquisitive and ask yourself questions. Ask yourself how you feel after eating a muffin. Does it make you feel good? Bloated? Lethargic? Overall, not great? Then observe how you feel after eating an abundant, healthy colourful meal full of the nourishing foods you like. If you notice foods affecting your emotions and feel-good factor then you are more likely to opt for good choices rather than relying on willpower and self-denial to keep you away from junk.

• FOOD AFTER WORKOUT: It might surprise you, but chocolate cake is one of the most popular snacks people buy at health clubs. Think about why you reach for treats after working out. If it is because you see chocolate as a reward and exercise as a punishment, then you need to change that narrative in your head and find an exercise you genuinely enjoy.

• CHEAT MEALS: These can easily become an obsession that you are building up to all week. But when you make sure everything you eat is a joy, it reduces the psychological need for a cheat meal. I used to think, 'I'll be happy when it is the weekend' but that cheat meal mentality creates a joyless cycle that can sometimes cause you to binge and purge and create eating habits for most of the week that you see as something you have to endure. It is vitally important to be happy in the now. Food needs to nourish, taste good and be celebrated.

• MINDSET: The words 'Be kind to yourself' are written in stone outside our Bodyism headquarters in London. You can do this by choosing foods that make you feel good in the long-term not just in the moment. You do this by thinking positive thoughts around food and by recognising that your body is worth looking after. The pursuit of health should stop being a battle and instead become a joyful way of life.

• BREAKFAST: We are all different. I digest food very quickly, so when I eat porridge for breakfast, it very quickly spikes my blood sugar levels afterwards, whereas my wife Chrissy digests food slowly and her sugar doesn't dip afterwards in the same way that mine would. On the flip side, I can eat eggs and avocado and butter all in one go because I digest food so quickly and I feel energised afterwards. Notice how your body feels in the hours after breakfast to decide what's best for you.

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