Assessing Your Diet for a Fitness Programme

Do you follow a healthy, well-balanced diet?

How much do you know about the food you eat?

Do you read the labelling on the side of the packaging?

Did you know that at one time carbohydrate foods were the bad boys and therefore to be avoided at all costs, and yet recent research studies have revealed that a diet low in fat and high in carbohydrates is what we should aim for.

Nutritionists advise that in order for the body to function at its optimum it needs a well balanced diet which should include carbohydrates, protein, fats, minerals and vitamins. However, it is only by eating a variety of foods in sensible proportions that we can obtain the correct amount of nutrients needed to maintain good health.

The three basic rules regarding food are that:

1. It should nourish the body .

2. Help safeguard health.

3. Whenever possible play a role in helping fight against ailments or disease

This programme is not intended as a weight-loss diet, although some people may find that they do lose a little weight, but rather a way of demonstrating to people a healthy way of eating.

How unhealthy is your diet?

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How many times a week do you eat fish and chips or grab a burger at lunchtime? What about those pre-packed frozen meals that only require a blast in the microwave for several minutes or a meal in a can, that provides a meal within minutes? The problem is that we live in an age where everything is needed yesterday, family meal times when everyone sits around the table together are fast disappearing and eating convenient ‘fast’ food often seems easier than choosing the healthy option. It is hardly surprising to learn that so many people are suffering eating disorders and allergies, so perhaps the time has come to take a look at our own individual eating habits.

Bad eating habits:

• Skipping meals

• Eating junk and convenience foods

• Eating between meals

• Snacking on high sugary foods

• Eating when you are sad or worried

• Eating on the go.

Skipping meals:

one of the biggest problems when people are in such a hurry is that they find themselves skipping meals, so they may have breakfast then not eat anything until later in the evening, surviving on a diet of coffee and a chocolate biscuit.

Convenience foods:

we are a nation of fast-food junkies in that anything that is quick to prepare is fine to eat, hardly giving its nutritional value any consideration. Although ready-prepared meals do save time this doesn’t prevent them losing valuable nutrients during reheating, and experts have found that convenience foods contain more sugar, salt and fat than most other foods. However, to counterbalance the argument, it must be said that there are an increasing number of ‘healthy’ or ‘calorie-counted meals’ now available.

Fast foods:

the occasional burger or meal of take away fish and chips is fine provided it is not a diet based purely on fast foods. Although certainly of a higher quality than ten years ago, the fact is that most do contain a lot of calories and a lot of fat.

Eating between meals:

most people do snack between meals; for many with little or poor appetites this is the ideal way for them to maintain their energy levels. But problems occur when snacking is largely confined to sugary or salted foods, cream cakes or crisps. If you do snack between meals, then think healthy and choose from the following list:

• Apples

• Pears

• Bananas

• Celery

• Handful of dried fruit

• Raw carrot

• Oranges

• Cauliflower florets

And remember, if you are a snack eater the frequent presence of food in the mouth can encourage the build up of bacteria that in turn cause plaque, so brush and floss the teeth regularly.

Eating when sad:

many people turn to food when they are angry or sad, depressed or worried, even on some occasions when happy, but there is always an underlying factor to trigger this behaviour. It could be you have just ended a relationship, lost your job or feel under stress and food is your only ally. But when it results in putting on extra kilos when you’d much rather prefer not to, then it becomes an enemy. So if you find that you are always nibbling for no particular reason, try to find out the cause before it gets out of control.

Eating on the go:

never eat on the go. It’s not healthy and it doesn’t give the body time to digest the food. So if you find you are guilty of this, the simple answer is to stop!

Good eating habits

It is possible to adopt good eating habits and although it may seem you are having to give up all the things you enjoy eating, you are wrong. It doesn’t mean having to forgo eating a cake or a packet of crisps, eat them by all means, just in moderation. Instead of having three glasses of wine when you go out, have one. When the family is having an apple pie and custard for their dessert, skip the apple pie and just have an apple. And if you fancy a bar of chocolate, then have the occasional small one.

Good eating habits:

• Eat three balanced meals a day

• Don’t snack on sugary foods

• Don’t deprive yourself of everything you enjoy

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