It’s just inevitable isn’t it? Days of overeating, drinking, slouching on the sofa, TV watching marathons and the pounds piling on. Lovely to let go like that for a week or so but not great to start the new year feeling bloated and in need of a diet. Probably the number one New Years’ resolution is to start a diet. I wonder how many people last longer than a day on it? January to my mind, is not the most conducive month to diet. Cold and grey (I’m talking about us Brits here), one longs for hot comforting food.
But what if we didn’t gain all the pounds to begin with? And still managed to eat heartily and fully over the holidays? With just a few little adjustments to our eating habits? Aha now you’re talking!
Nutritionist Fleur Borrelli comes to the rescue.
Typically, in our evolutionary history, winter was a time of compulsory fasting because there simply was not enough food around! During these periods, we would have needed to rely on our fat and protein stores to be used as sources of energy. Actually it is really good for us to feel that need to eat because hunger stimulates a large number of special proteins in the brain that improve mood and cognitive function.
Nowadays winter is a time associated with high meal frequency and overconsumption of refined carbohydrates and sugar. Frequent intake of refined carbohydrate, which includes biscuits, cakes and bread, will produce continuous fluctuations of blood sugar levels. Worse still, special proteins that act on our behalf to fight viruses and bacteria may be broken down to provide more energy in an effort to stabilize our blood sugar levels. This can lead to increased susceptibility to colds and infections.
Here are my five top tips to keeping the blood sugar levels stable, the colds away and the weight off:
1. Keep up the exercise
There is no doubt that the freezing temperatures and shorter days force us to become more sedentary. And yet physical inactivity has been related to almost every type of chronic disease; heart insufficiency, diabetes type II, metabolic syndrome, gallstones, depression, and neurodegeneration to name but a few.
2. Eat plenty of high quality protein
Quality protein includes organic free-range eggs, fish, chicken and all the wild birds and game that are in season at the moment. Not only are these sources high in Omega 3 oils for healthy hair, skin, joints and brain function, they also stop the cravings. Start each meal with a few bites of protein before you eat anything else.
3. Use fat to keep you thin
It is now current opinion that many fats are vital for maintaining health and will help you lose fat too!
Extra virgin olive oil contains a special compound, hydroxytyrosol, which helps you to burn fat and keep your appetite at bay. Drizzle a little over your salad or vegetables when you are ready to eat.
Coconut Oil is easily absorbed and converted straight to energy. And the more energetic you feel, the more calories you expend. Use it for light frying or baking.
4. Include some ‘thermogenic compounds’ in your daily diet
Thermogenesis, or keeping warm, can account for a large part of our energy expenditure and therefore helps to stop us from gaining weight. These include curcumin, the principle ingredient in turmeric, green tea and all peppers – not necessarily the chilli variety!
5. Go and visit a plunge pool
Most spas will have a plunge pool which is kept at quite a refreshingly cold temperature. This ‘cold hydrotherapy’ is provided to follow on from hot treatments such as the sauna to stimulate the circulation and tone the skin. What it can also do is stimulate the production of growth hormone which promotes a toned body and may help to burn the fat.