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The 'all or nothing' approach to diet and lifestyle

So often when I see patients in clinic they inform me that they can't understand why they are having trouble losing weight and improving their fertility even though they have recently started to follow a "supremely healthy" eating plan.

When queried further, many of these women have a history of yo-yo dieting, binge/purge cycles where they followed the latest diet plan, achieved results through strict calorie restriction for a couple of weeks and then watched the weight pile back when they finally lost the resolve to continue with such a stringent and impractical diet plan.

This is not being healthy, this is sheer torture.

Based on my clinical experience over the years, with both men and women struggling with various health issues it is clear that our mental and emotional state has everything to do with our eating habits and the way we treat our bodies.

Remember that a healthier version of a particular dessert is not intended to replace your dinner, that's just wishful thinking. The idea is that if you consume a dessert that is more nutritionally dense, rather than just calorie dense, you are more likely to feel satiated and less likely to eat the whole cake at the end of what was otherwise, a nutritious and healthy meal.

We in the Western world have been described as the most 'overfed, yet undernourished' society. This is in large part because of the huge increase in processed food consumption that has become the quick fix option for people too tired and stressed out to cook for themselves anymore. We average about 25 minutes cooking per day, which includes the time it takes to clean up, so it's clear that many of us are still having difficulty with the basics of healthy living.

Instead, we order take-aways or buy seemingly 'healthy' options from the supermarket, which in most cases are still far higher in calories, salt, sugar and way too low in micro and macronutrients to satisfy our hunger properly. You could actually eat a 2,000 calorie fast-food meal and genuinely feel hungry an hour later because your body is crying out for some proper nutrition.

Change doesn't happen over-night

The most important thing is that you start small. If you have been ordering a take-away or eating pre-prepared meals every night for the last year, than it will take a while to get to a point where you are regularly cooking for yourself. Begin by looking for the healthiest take-away menu options you can find and order those instead. Make your own brown rice at the beginning of the week and store it in handy containers in the freezer so you don't have to depend on the oily, fried rice that you get from the take-away.

If you make a small change and stick it for at least 3 weeks, you will quickly find that it becomes second nature and this is the true secret to success....consistency.

Consistent, small changes can add up to a big impact on your health with minimal effort or restriction on your part.

Another way of looking at it, is to try to add in as much good stuff as you can, while still giving yourself full permission to eat the bad stuff, if you feel like it. Many people find that within a short period of time eating this way that their cravings for the poorer food choices diminish because they are receiving the nutrients that the body craves from the healthier food items.

So try out something new this week. Don't make rules, count points or calories but rather focus on finding a few healthy food options that you find seriously tasty and make them part of your core daily diet. Most importantly, try to maintain a positive attitude to your food, as something to be savoured and enjoyed, instead of turning into 'the enemy'.



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