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Feeling guilty about reaching for the biscuit tin?

10 tips on how to get your eating back on track by Georgina Camfield, associate registered nutritionist and wellbeing physiologist at AXA PPP healthcare

Have you just had a biscuit with your coffee and now feel guilty that you’ve ruined your healthy eating regime? Are you constantly obsessing about food?

All of us can have a wobble and fall off the ‘healthy eating wagon’ now and then – no-one is perfect. Socialising, tiredness, new experiences, stress can all play their part in upsetting our eating regimes and may have us reaching for that forbidden chocolate bar or sugar heavy pudding, but the key is the way we pick ourselves up again after the minor setbacks. A positive mindset is what we are aiming for.

Georgina Camfield tells us that she encourages people to choose foods that will nourish their bodies and not to get hung up on calories and sugar content. The aim is to have a positive relationship with food and not leave ourselves racked with guilt when we eat the occasional biscuit as this will only make ourselves miserable.

The best way we can look after our bodies and minds is to enjoy eating a variety of foods and not totally ban anything.

Georgina tells us there are 3 things to remember if we start to obsess about food:

Back to basics

Stay away from faddy diets. They often confuse us and we can’t sustain them long-term. Rely on the basics instead:

  • Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • Change to wholegrain bread, pasta and rice
  • Limit saturated fats, sugary foods and salt

We should aim to make the best choices we can and don’t worry if we have the occasional set-back – that’s life!

Good days should outnumber the bad

There will be times when we really can’t stop ourselves polishing off a packet of salted nuts or a piece of chocolate cake – but how we eat for the rest of the time is what really counts. Giving in to the occasional craving shouldn’t leave us feeling guilty if the good days outnumber the bad.

You’re only as good as your next meal

All our hard work won’t be undone if we miss a meal and then grab a take-out instead, or opt for a mug of hot chocolate rather than healthy soup on a really cold day – and life does sometimes get in the way of our best intentions, but it doesn’t mean these less healthy choices will ruin all the good work we’ve put in.

Never be too hard on yourself – just concentrate on eating more healthily the next day.

10 ways to pick ourselves up and get back on track

Georgina shares with us her tips on how to take back control:

1. Write a diary

Keep a food diary. Log everything you eat, including snacks and drinks. Most of us don’t realise how much we consume on a daily basis.

Alongside the food log, write down how you are feeling. This will help you to understand if there is a relationship between the food you choose and your mood that day. You may see an improvement in how you feel when you eat well. This could then motivate you to keep choosing to eat healthily. 

2. Think positively

If you convince yourself that you deserve to be healthy this may help when you’re heading for a sugary snack. Saying a ‘positive mantra’ may remind you to choose a healthier option instead.

3. Be organised

Have plenty of healthy snacks prepared in the fridge and to take with you when you’re out and about so you’ll be less likely to choose that chocolate bar for your quick sugar fix. Try a handful of nuts and seeds or a small tub of Greek yoghurt with mixed berries, or the ultimate pre-packaged healthy option – a banana! It’s all about being organised and thinking ahead.

4. Distraction can work

Sometimes we snack out of habit or just because we’re bored. This is when we need to distract ourselves. Go for a walk if you can, or try and concentrate on something else – it is possible to distract yourself from thinking about food. Drinking a glass of water may help too.

5. Take your time when you eat

Savouring and really tasting the flavours when we eat can help us to enjoy food more and ultimately eat less. We often eat in a distracted way, not taking notice of what we’re eating, especially when we’re in a hurry. It’s important to take our time and appreciate the taste and texture of the food we eat. Even if we’re eating that chocolate treat – if we eat using our senses to really appreciate it then we are less likely to take another. 

6. Keep a reminder

Write a list of why and what you are hoping to achieve by eating healthily. Put it on the fridge door and look at it to keep yourself motivated. 

7. Little steps

Reaching your goal may seem unattainable at the beginning so try and break it down into more manageable pieces. Try having one extra piece of fruit a day or swapping that afternoon biscuit for some homemade flapjack instead. When you reach these smaller, short-term goals it will set you on your way and make you feel positive about yourself too. 

8. Have a treat

Make one day a week your day to have a treat. This way you’ll find it easier to say no to those unhealthy options during the week as you will have set aside a day to eat them. It could be your favourite takeaway on a Saturday night or a slice of cake on a Friday afternoon, whatever you choose you will find you’ll enjoy it more if it is limited to one day only. 

9. No food should be banned

If you ban yourself from eating a certain food then you may find that you’ll want it more! This is not sustainable so don’t deny yourself anything completely. You need to find a balance so if you can’t live without chocolate, for example, then limit it to a few squares or try dark chocolate instead.

10. Have patience

If, alongside eating healthily your goal is to lose weight then have a little patience – the more slowly weight comes off the longer it will stay off! You must look at the long-term and not be tempted into losing weight too quickly as this could result in more weight gain in the long run. Achieving a healthy weight for your height is about investing in your future health by making sustainable lifestyle changes.

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