Thursday, January 13, 2011

To eat or not to eat?

Over the holidays most of us will throw caution to the wind and indulge ourselves with foods and snacks that taste good but add to the waistline. A lot of us will gain half to one kg over the holidays but unfortunately only few will lose it all. Most of us will carry over some of the weight to the next holiday season and add to it year after year. Suddenly, we find our clothes don’t fit and the Internet BMI calculator tells us we are overweight!

Start to eat healthily by following these 10 simple steps.

Eat before you go outNever go out on an empty stomach. Eat a low calorie snack before you go out, fresh fruits are best. This way you are not starving yourself and are able to be choosy and select healthy, low calorie foods.

Breakfast a mustDon’t skip meals especially breakfast. Skipped meals slow the metabolism and result in nett weight gain.

Pick healthy snacksSnack foods that are fried, especially battered and fried tend to be very high in calories. Nuts and cheese are also snacks very high in fat and calories.

Focus on what you eatEat without distractions, without TV or computer. Focus on and enjoy your food. It is easier to finish a bag of chips while watching TV or surfing the net.

Eat white meatChoose lean proteins-white meat like chicken breast, fish, lean pork or tofu. These foods give protein without much animal fat (the wrong kind of saturated fats).

Don’t rushSlow down your meals. Enjoy your food and give your brain a chance to catch up with your stomach. Put your fork/chopsticks down between bites. Chew well.

Dress lightlyAvoid heavy sauces and dressings. There is no point in selecting low calorie foods and then smothering them with a high calorie sauce or dressing.

Adopt right buffet etiquetteAt a buffet: Be critical and selective.

•Look over the dishes and select the healthy choices.
•Be at the end of the line and most of the high calorie foods will be gone when your turn comes. You may be forced to eat the healthier foods.
•Sit as far away from the buffet table as possible. The further you need to walk, the lesser refills you will get.
•Do not face the buffet table. Sit with your back to it. Remember, ‘out of sight out of mind’.
•Use a smaller plate. The side plates are big enough for most people.
•Fill your plate with mostly salads and vegetables. They fill you up without loading you with calories.

Watch what you drinkAvoid/restrict liquid calories like fruit juices, sweet carbonated drinks and alcohol. These are empty calories. One coke a day will add on 20 kg over 10 years.

Walk it offWalk everywhere and try to get in two, half-hour brisk walks every day. Encourage your spouse and kids to join. It’s never too early or too late to learn good habits.

By Dr Koura Aaryan
*The writer is Senior Consultant at Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s Department of General Surgery.

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