Free yourself from diet rules and watch the pounds fall away with nutritionist Vicki Edgson’s easy plan

Are you fed up with diets that don’t work? It may not be your willpower that’s to blame. The fact is, many diets are unsustainable. They take too much time to prepare, they’re too expensive to maintain or they make it impossible to have a social life. How often do your hear a friend saying, ‘I’ll meet you after lunch, as I’m on a diet’? She may even be skipping lunch altogether, only to binge later in the day when her hunger gets the better of her.

Description: ‘Enjoying a varied diet makes losing weight easier’

‘Enjoying a varied diet makes losing weight easier’

Strict diets can result in side effects such as headaches, nausea, insomnia and anxiety as a result of your body’s natural homeostasis being thrown out of balance. And if you’re not nourishing yourself throughout the day, when your body needs maximum energy, you’ll end up making the wrong food choices.

What’s wrong with your diet?

Most extreme diets generally cut out one of the three main food groups: proteins, carbohydrates or fats, and this is neither sustainable nor healthy. For example, a high-protein/no-carb diet doesn’t work in the long term, as carbs are your body’s preferred source of fuel for energy. Without them, your body burns fat stores for fuel, but this will generally slow down as the weeks progress and, as a second-rate source of fuel, will give you headaches, bad breath, body odour and make you irritable. Cutting out food groups also creates nutritional deficiencies. For example, you need protein for rebuilding and repair, whether it’s animal protein or nuts, seeds and pulses.

One the other hand, some diets are based on very high amounts of protein, which may be suitable for athletes and those who train hard, but aren’t a healthy option for most people. Too much protein can cause constipation and give you an overactive, anxious mind. With all these rules about what you can and can’t ear, it’s easy to become confused – and may even lead to ‘food fear’. The answer? Moderation.

Description: ‘Eat good fats, such as olive oil, they’ll help you burn body fat’

‘Eat good fats, such as olive oil, they’ll help you burn body fat’

We all need ‘good’ fats (essential fatty acids) for neurological function. The ‘simple’ act of reading this article requires intense brain function that relies on the ‘good’ fats found in nuts and seeds, oily fish and oils such as olive, walnut, pumpkin, and sunflower. Concentration, wit, self-esteem, memory, touch, sight and hearing are also dependent on a good supply of essential fats. However, the ‘bad’ fats (in fried foods, crisps and roasted nuts, as well as the saturated fat found in pork, sausages and bacon) all interfere with the absorption and use of essential fats. Ironically, the notion that a low-fat/no-fat diet results in the fastest weight loss is misguided, as you need an adequate supply of essential fats to help burn and release the stored fat in your body.

When it comes to carbs, starchy foods often get lumped together with valuable root vegetables and whole grains, which are vital for the minerals they absorbed from the soil in which they grew. Without these in your daily eating programme, you’ll feel tired and find it difficult to concentrate for long periods of time. But don’t confuse these with the refined starches found in processed foods such as breakfast cereals. These are often stripped of their original nutrients and full of added sugars.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make on a diet is to eat too much fruit. While rich in protective antioxidants and fibre, most fruits are also high in natural sugars and tend to leave you wanting more. They’re also digested more rapidly than most other foods, particularly when eaten on an empty stomach. So limit your intake, while making sure you get at least your five-a-day.

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