Tuesday 23 July 2019

Dietitian Orla Walsh: How to trick yourself into good habits when it comes to your diet

Good habits become ingrained through repetition. Here are some easy-to-follow tips that will become second nature in no time. Stick to them and it will make staying in shape a whole lot easier, says dietitian Orla Walsh

Dietitian Orla Walsh
Dietitian Orla Walsh
Apple - remember to eat crunchy food

We become what we do. To understand how formulating new habits can change the outcome for you this year, it's important to understand that hunger is the desire or need for food, while satiety is the condition of being full or satisfied. If you're not satiated, hunger will steer you away from your ideal weight as you won't stick with this uncomfortable feeling for long. Strict diets don't fit into the big picture for this reason.

Here are my healthy rituals to follow to maintain a healthier lifestyle.

1 Eat crunchy food

Which do you think is most filling - an apple, apple sauce or apple juice? A study investigated the effects of eating different forms of apples on satiety.

The results showed that eating a whole apple reduced lunch calorie intake by 15pc, compared and decreased overall calorie intake compared with apple sauce, and apple juice. There are many reasons that this would happen.

Let's look at it logically. Your stomach is a bag that you store food in before it's digested. It can only hold so much. A crunchy apple takes up more space within this bag than the juice.

Additionally, in order for it to be digested, it needs to be broken down, which takes time. So the apple takes up more space in your stomach and stays there for longer. This leads to greater satiety from the whole crunchy apple.

2 Soup before dinner in Winter, salad before dinner in summer

Evidence suggests that when people opt for a low-calorie first course, even though it may increase the volume they consume in the entire meal, the intake of calories is lower.

A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association discovered that eating a small low-calorie salad of less than 50kcal before having a meal reduced the amount eaten in the meal by 7pc.

If you ate a large low-calorie salad of less than 100kcal before a meal, it reduced calorie intake by 12pc.

When they made the salads more calorific, there was no change to how much you ate. It really was down to filling up on a lot of low-calorie veggies.

Fortunately, the same could be seen in the example of soup.

A study compared no soup before a meal with soup before a meal, as well as different textures of soup (broth and vegetables served separately, chunky vegetable soup, chunky pureed vegetable soup, or pureed vegetable soup).

Results showed that by having soup before your meal, reduced how much you ate in the follow-up meal and the number of calories you consumed overall.

Soup reduced overall calorie intake by 20pc, or 134kcal. A pound of fat is 3500kcal. So to lose 14kb of fat, or one stone per year, you need to under eat by 135kcal per day.

4 Fill up on soluble fibre

Fibre appears to work on hunger in many ways by:

1. displacing available calories from the diet

2. increasing chewing, which promotes the secretion of saliva into your mouth and digestive juices into your stomach, making your stomach fill up

3. increased satiety from the bulkiness of higher fibre foods

4. by creating a gel in your stomach slowing down the entire digestive process keeping you fuller for longer.

Research published in the journal Nutrition Reviews found that by increasing the amount of fibre people ate, their weight came down without trying to eat less. By increasing fibre intake by 14g, overall calorie intake came down by 10pc, resulting in a low of just over 4lb in under four months.

5 Portion it all

In a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, participants were served a random lunch entrée.

The small meals were either lower or higher in calories per bite and small, medium or large in portion.

When a subject was given the largest portion of the higher-calorie option, they consumed 56pc more calories compared with when they were served the smallest portion of the lower-calorie entrée.

Despite the 56pc difference in energy intake between the two entrées, participant ratings of hunger and fullness did not differ after the meals.

So in order to feel full but eat less, be portion smart, and aim for lots of lower calorie foods.

6 Eat regularly

We know that those who skip breakfast tend to weigh more and make up for lost calories as the day moves on. To become leaner, it's a good idea to avoid hunger. It's common sense that skipping meals increases hunger. This leads to overeating later in the day. This restriction, followed by a gorge in food, increases the amount of fat stored by the body, and increases overall weight. Eating regularly is to keep your body in a more constant state of energy balance (energy in equals energy out) and may prevent large metabolic fluctuations.

So in other words, it's not just a case of how much you eat across the day, but when you eat it. A study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that eating three meals compared with two meals with the same amount of calories increased satiety over 24 hours.

Quite often, people take this a little too far. If you're not an athlete, eating six meals a day is not necessary. The ideal is a large breakfast, medium-sized lunch, and a small dinner. Three meals, with a decrease in calorie density as the day goes on, is the best way to avoid hunger.

7 Eat less processed food

As a dietitian, you often have to be the bearer of bad news. Too much alcohol and too much processed meat has been shown to increase the risk of bowel cancer. An analysis of data from 10 studies estimated that 50g of processed meat per day increases your risk of bowel cancer by 18pc. Processed meat refers to meat that has been transformed through the likes of salting, curing, fermentation and smoking.

Examples of processed meat include frankfurters, packaged ham, sausages, corned beef, as well as canned meat and meat-based preparations and sauces. Processed meat was classified as 'Group 1, carcinogenic to humans'. This category is used when there is convincing evidence that the thing in question causes cancer. Higher intake of fibre has been shown to reduce your risk. Perhaps swapping sausages and rashers in the morning for beans, mushrooms and tomatoes is a swap you may consider.

8 Focus on what you should be eating, not what you shouldn't

Eat because food nourishes you and you enjoy it. Let go of the thoughts that food is the enemy that causes weight gain. But rather, food will be seen as something that nourishes the body, helping to fend off disease, adding both quality and quantity to your life.

WHO estimate that in 2013, 5.2million deaths worldwide were attributed to people eating too little fruit and vegetables. The saying 'eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables daily' wasn't pulled out of a hat. For every portion of fruit and vegetable that you eat and thus for every step closer you get to achieving your five a day, you'll be at a 5pc reduced risk of dying from anything. This benefit is fairly huge.

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