Are you surviving on the diet of beige?

Last weekend I ran a nutrition talk for a group of my clients

Nutrition is something I’m pretty passionate about.  1. because it something I’ve personally spent a long time struggling with and 2. Because it drives me crazy how many myths and false information there is out there and how confusing it can be.  Generally most of this is from the food companies who of course want us to buy their products! One rule I tell my clients is basically if it’s marketed to you as a ‘health’ food, low fat or low calorie, be very suspicious!

I believe the best diet of the one that works for you AND the one that you follow consistently. There are a few general rules I follow like including all 3 food groups in your meals and avoiding processed food.

So as I was talking food on Sat it occurred to me that many of us are surviving on the diet of beige

You’ve heard of the table of beige party food right? You know the pastries, the crispy canapés, the crisps and dips?

Many of us are eating a diet of beige that goes like this

Breakfast: Coffee and toast
Mid morning snack: muffin
Lunch: sandwich
Afternoon snack: biscuits and more coffee
Dinner: pasta (maybe with some prawns or chicken)
Supper: more biscuits or chocolate bar

So what’s wrong with the diet of beige?

It contains predominately one food group – carbohydrate

Now before you think I’m one of these health freaks that believe carbs are the enemy (far from it by the way)
All carbs are not created equal

The type of carbohydrates in the beige diet are typically high GI carbs that contain very few nutrients
(Fruit and vegetables are also carbohydrate but very nutrient dense)

So what does this mean for you in plain English?

Carbohydrates are a form of sugar.  They are broken down into glucose.  High GI carbs like the ones above, cause a surge of glucose into your bloodstream.  Your body responds to this by releasing insulin. Insulin is a storage hormone that takes the glucose out of your bloodstream and stores it IN YOUR FAT cells.

That’s right these type of carbohydrates make you fat NOT fat.
You need fat in your diet for a variety of functions – hormones, nerves and brain cells are made of fat. Adding fat to the above diet of beige will also actually slow down the glucose surge meaning less insulin and less fat storage. The low fat diet it a complete myth and I believe very harmful to your health. If you want to lose weight there are far healthier ways to do it than counting calories and cutting out vital food groups

Now if this nutrition stuff is all new to you I don’t expect you to start replacing your pasta with cauliflower rice and eating eggs and kale for breakfast (meals that me and some of my clients regularly enjoy!)
So where do you start? With a few simple changes. The following tips are a good starting point to not only getting healthier but may even leave you several pounds lighter

  • Make small changes you can stick to. Introduce new habits get and consistent with them first. Trying to put in place too much too soon is often setting yourself up to fail. Get the basics right first then you can fine tune it
  • If you find yourself living on the beige diet, add some colour to your plate particularly green veg which is nutrient dense.
  • Try to get a balance of Protein, Fat and Carbohydrate in every meal
  • Get support, whether it’s from friends or by getting involved in a group or programme. Having people with similar goals on your side is a great way to keep motivated
  • Have a way of measuring your progress but throw away your scales! Measuring your weight on the scales is extremely demotivating for many of us. When we don’t see that number change the way we want it, we associate this with failure. It makes us feels miserable and most of us generally respond to this feeling by comfort eating which then results in guilt and further comfort eating. Instead think about how you feel. Do you feel better, healthier, fitter? Do your clothes feel looser? Support groups are a great way of keeping check on your progression. If all of these things are improving, does it really matter what that number says on the scale?
  • Choose the simplest option. Try not to over-complicate things by choosing recipes that require a million ingredients or take hours to prepare. I always recommend Fitter Food recipe book by Keris Marsden and Matt Whitmore for yummy grain free recipes. Their website also has some great recipe ideas www.fitterlondon.co.uk

Look out for my meals in minutes guide coming soon!

If you are stuck in the beige diet here’s a few examples below of simple changes to start with

Breakfast: porridge, add blueberries and full fat milk to increase your nutrients and fat content
Or I’d you feel you’re not ready to give up the toast. Choose a good quality wholemeal bread and add some peanut butter or organic butter to your toast – remember adding fat will slow down the glucose spike
Mid morning snack: Greek yogurt and mixed berries (go with natural full fat yogurt rather than flavoured ones that are generally full of sugar)
Lunch: choose a wrap or sushi instead of a sandwich. Or many food takeouts like Pret and Eat also offer strews, quinoa or rice based dishes. Choose something with some form of protein (meat, fish or cheese or beans)

Afternoon snack: apple slice and peanut butter – yummy. small bag of mixed nuts

Dinner: grilled chicken or steak, broccoli and sweet potato – very easy to make and sweet potatoes have a slower glucose release which means reduced insulin and fat storage.  If you really want to have pasta, increase the protein content, so add meat, fish, beans or cheese

Evening sweet treat: if you struggle with sweet craving in the evenings don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead of having a sugary chocolate bar though swap for either a small bar of green and blacks dark chocolate or a coconut yogurt with some berries. It will still give you the sweet fix but without the added sugar

Aim for better rather than perfect :)

What steps do you feel you could put in place right now to take you closer towards your goals?