Eat smart to shed excess pounds

How can you boost your immunity, increase your energy levels, fight disease and delay the onset of ageing? By improving your nutrition is the simple answer.

This advice equally applies to trying to shift stubborn pounds piled on over the festive season or staying slim and trim throughout the year despite occasional breakouts.

Eiginta Vitiene, a local health and wellbeing consultant who runs courses on weight loss and healthy eating, offers a seven point plan for success.

1. Eat healthily.

She says the secret of good nutrition lies in a variety of foods which contain the essential nutrients your body needs.

“When you fill your weekly supermarket trolley with the must-eat foods that are based on lean protein and low GI carbohydrates as well as rich in Omega 3 healthy fats, antioxidants, phytochemicals and fibre there is less room left for fatty, sugary, salty, calorie killers.”

Next time you shop aim to include the top 10 healthy foods in your grocery list. Opt for salmon, blueberries, walnuts, spinach, oats, kidney beans, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli and a natural yogurt with lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria.

2. Control your portions.

If you want to lose weight aim to put “fewer calories in and more calories out”, Eiginta advises.

“How much do you have to eat if you want to see results? Numerous studies show that we tend to underestimate our food intake by nearly 20 per cent as in the era of super-sized meals it is hard to spot the difference between a portion and a serving.

“Let’s say, the food pyramid outlines a serving of grains as four tablespoons, ie, (1/2 cup ) of cooked pasta. In general, most of us need around six to eight servings of grains per day (unless you are young and active ). However, the bowl of pasta for dinner often contains our maximum daily grain allowance without leaving room for bread, rice, potatoes, porridge and other quality carbohydrates. No wonder you can’t see results!

“Learning food serving sizes and using them on a daily basis helps to ensure you get the right calorie and nutrient intake needed for your gender, age and activity level and makes it easy to manage your weight and health.”

3. Read food labels.

You may have to wade through a lot of information to find out exactly what certain foods contain.

“Let’s say, a lovely image of fruit on the front cover of the package we believe indicates a healthy choice. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean there is a lot of fruit there. If you read the ingredient list, you may find that it contains only five per cent of it! Often when we choose something called ‘light’ we presume it is low in fat/calories. However, ‘light’ could also mean light in colour or taste!”

She says knowing how to read nutritional information and decode claims about fat, sugar, salt, cholesterol and fibre can help you not only assess and find alternatives to your favourite foods but also to manage your weight and improve your diet.

4. Opt for low-fat cooking.

Aiming to be more organised and filling your kitchen cupboards with the right ingredients is the first step to healthy cooking.

When you are rushed or tired, having your fridge stocked with vegetables, lean meats and low fat dairy products makes it easier to prepare quick and tasty low fat meals. It will also discourage you from ordering high calorie takeaways.

“Knowing that every gram of fat (even a healthy one! ) has nine calories it is obvious that grilling and steaming foods is better than deep-frying.”

5. Learn to navigate menus

Eating out can be a very enjoyable experience. However, for those trying to lose weight it can spell trouble. When faced with a range of delicious options it is all too easy to put one’s diet on hold.

The secret is to choose healthy options which fit in with your weight management plan. That way you can have a fun night out without sacrificing your shape.

“Adding a few smart eating strategies, like having a snack before you enter the restaurant, choosing smaller portions and vegetable/ fruit based starters, saying ‘no’ to a pre-meal drink or cleaning your teeth after the main course could help you stay on track and avoid the guilt afterwards.”

6. Beat eating triggers.

The food choices we make and the amount we eat is influenced by a number of eating triggers, explains Eiginta.

“Having an empty stomach/ imbalanced blood sugar levels make you more prone to sensations: smells, colours and taste. Some physical locations, like our workplace, a shopping mall, or a TV room also challenge our ability to resist eating and drinking.

“The most common one is ‘emotional eating’, when we reach for comfort foods. Thoughts and feelings like stress, anger, loneliness or just simply feeling fat turn us to crisps, wine, chocolate and ice cream rather than looking deeper and satisfying our real emotional needs.”

Having tools and strategies to beat eating triggers can help to keep your healthy eating on track and avoid major slip ups.

7. Use skillpower versus willpower.

Habits and imagination are more powerful than willpower and logic will ever be, according to UK hypnotist and life coach Paul McKenna.

Expecting quick weight loss results, throwing yourself into challenging situations too quickly and striving to be perfect can cause frustration, dent your confidence and put you off track, warns Eiginta.

“Gradually building healthier habits and leaner environments, setting realistic targets, learning new skills and being patient is the key to permanent success and a lighter and healthier you.”

Eiginta Vitiene will run a weekend course entitled “Eat Smart” in Galway on Saturday February 7 (the venue has yet to be confirmed ). From February 2 she will run weight loss group courses as well as provide individual consultations at the Kingfisher Club in Renmore and at Energie women’s fitness club, Briarhill. She also organises weekly nutrition and management courses and provides individual consultations in a number of local health clubs. For further information telephone (087 ) 2119533 or log onto


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