Nutritionist Alia Almoayed gives advice on how to shape up by shipping out some unhealthy eating habits and changing your mindset
Melissa Van Maasdyk
‘My take on dieting is very simple: diets don’t work. And the reason they fail is because we view them as short periods of hunger and willpower struggle. People who diet regularly end up with yo-yo weight and yo-yo emotions. Once they go off the diet, their weight usually goes back up; that’s mostly because they end up with a slower metabolism as a result of the constant on-and-off dieting, and because they go back to their old eating and lifestyle habits that made them gain weight in the first place. If it’s not a complete lifestyle change, then it’s very unlikely to work.
‘In order to have a healthy “diet”, it’s better not to call it that at all. I prefer to call it an eating programme. The word “diet” in today’s definition is usually associated with hunger, misery and missing out on life’s pleasures. Once you change these associations by calling your journey something like “healthy routine” or “lifestyle enhancement”, then your own association with it improves and you will automatically get better results and be more likely to stick to it.’
What to avoid ‘If you want to change your eating habits to lose weight, then the best place to start is to cut out sugars (desserts, chocolates, juices, fizzy drinks etc). A good next step is to cut down on starch (such as bread, rice, pasta, pastries etc). Lowering starch intake is the most effective way to make your body burn fat for energy. Last but not least, cut out dairy products, as products like milk and cheese are another source of fat.’
New eating habits ‘Aim to integrate the following healthy eating habits into your daily life. First, eat frequently – three meals and two snacks every day, and do not skip any meals. Adjust your portions – cut your quantities by half (if you’re not hungry every time you eat, that means you’re eating too much at each sitting). Have more fish, vegetables and fruits (avoiding the very sweet ones such as bananas, mangoes and grapes) and salads (the greener the better).
Also drink lots of water – start your day with at least two glasses at room-temperature – and be sure to exercise, aiming for an hour at least three times per week. ‘If you are overeating, find out what emotions are making you want to eat and try to work them out without food. Finally, get some sleep – if you sleep well, you’ll shed weight easier. And it goes without saying that if you want to sleep well, you have to cut down on your caffeine intake. So not too many teas, coffees and fizzy drinks.’ Alia Almoayed BSc, MA, DipBCNH, mBANT; www.aliaalmoayed.com.
Nice and easy does it
Nutrition company Health Watchers can help take the hassle out of dieting. After an initial weigh-in and body fat analysis, and a discussion in which any medical history and allergies are established, a dietician works out a calorie-controlled diet tailored to your needs. Then a menu is drawn up, taking into account your likes and dislikes, and, hey presto, readymade meals appear at your door every morning, comprising breakfast, lunch and supper plus two snacks. ‘This isn’t a starvation diet,’ says dietician Sarah Ismail. ‘It’s just a regular healthy balanced diet modified to be low in fat, calories and salt; you even get dessert, so you don’t find yourself craving sweet things.’ But the beauty of it lies in the fact that you don’t have to exercise restraint or choice because all that is taken out of your hands.
You sign up for Health Watchers for two-week periods and have a weigh-in every two weeks, at which point the diet can be modified to suit your tastes and lifestyle. And what can you expect to lose? According to Ismail, women lose on average 5-6kg in a month, and men can lose 7-8kg. Adopt one of the exercise regimes rounded up here and you could be looking at more. Health Watchers, Manama, opposite the Gulf Hotel (17 811 449; www.healthwatchersbahrain.com). BD125 for two weeks, including consultation and all meals.