Monday, 5 February 2018

Three simple ways to eat healthy

diet, weight loss, healthy eating
Britain has a love affair with processed and unhealthy foods...
It's official, the UK has the unhealthiest diet in Europe. Last week news that us Brits eat five times more processed food than those living in Portugal, and four times more than those in France, Greece and Italy, hit the headlines. 

In fact, the researchers from the University of São Paulo, revealed that half of the average person’s diet in the UK is made up of food that has been altered someway in its preparation - from breakfast cereals to ready meals. And that puts us at more risk of obesity, heart disease and strokes. 

Not surprisingly, food and health experts have since dubbed the UK a 'public health disaster zone'.

The problem with processed food is that during manufacture many of the nutrients are lost - and are instead replaced with artificial substances, sugar, salt and fat. When food lacks nutrition we tend to eat more - and many of the added substances can also be addictive, again tricking our minds to overeat and never feel satisfied. The UK government currently relies on the food industry to regulate itself - with mixed results - which also means shopping for healthier choices is made harder. So with convenience food so readily available, how can we really change our diets - and improve our long-term health? 

Here are three ways to overhaul your eating habits - and improve your health - for good...

Meal prep and menu planning

weight loss, diet, healthy eating
Meal planner from Not On The High Street
Sometimes we reach for the easy option because we just don't have the time or energy to even think what we want to cook - let alone shop for and make it. But planning ahead and meal prepping can mean a few decisions taken early in the week can prevent a whole load of poor ones later on. If you pre-portion your meals, you know exactly how much to eat too - and likely save time and money as well. 

To start meal prepping you need to chose one or two days of the week when you have the most free time to batch cook - for most people it's Sunday, but there's no hard and fast rule. Then plan out what you will eat in the upcoming week. You can also choose which meals you want to prepare - breakfast, lunch or dinner - or all three if you're feeling ambitious (although to begin with, you might want to build up gradually). There's some great tips and recipes here.

Harness the power of hypnosis 

Willpower is a major part of changing behaviour patterns you're unhappy with. It takes a lot of determination to turn down that slice of cake at the office - and walk straight past the burger bar on the way home. Clinical hypnotherapist Adam Cox explains eating food triggers the release of dopamine in the brain, and that certain sugars, fats and processed chemicals can have the same effect as cocaine, flooding our brain with more dopamine than it is used to, causing addiction. This leads to cravings, with our bodies demanding a reward. Dopamine effectively makes us repeat behaviour, such as eating junk food even when we’re not hungry. 

Hypnosis can bypass the addiction we've developed by tapping into the power of the subconscious mind. Cox says, 'For people with processed food addiction I use hypnosis to help them believe that junk food is toxic or poisonous', and he has created an audio download that can help people destroy their cravings for unhealthy food. The audio download costs £19.99 and is available here.

Take your sleep seriously

We all know how ropey we feel after a bad night's sleep - and sleeping less than 7-8 hours per night has now been linked to a higher percentage of body fat. And it's because the hormones that regulate appetite and the process the cue to stop eating are affected by a lack of shuteye. You'll find you feel more hungry and choose higher calorie food the day after a poor night's sleep. There's even a chance that since muscle tissue builds and repairs as we sleep, we're damaging fat-burning muscle mass too. 

Change your sleep pattern - change your life
But if you suffer with insomnia, you're not alone. Sleep guru Anandi is well aware of the challenges of a good night's sleep, spending years of her life sleeping for just a maximum of four hours each night. 

However, rather than use pills (over 10 million NHS prescriptions for sleep medication are handed out each year) Anandi turned to Ayurveda, a natural Indian healing system. She now runs sleep retreats and has published a book based on working with the breath to help improve sleep. She also offers her tops tips for a restful night free on her website

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