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The real way to slim down and improve your diet

Forget quick fixes and miracle cleanses. Dietitian Emma Stubbs shares seven smarter tips.

Summer in Australia: the beginning of a whole lot of backyard barbeques, relaxing with a beer and a snag. This change in season also comes with the weight loss industry promoting their next big miracle, and talk of diets, detoxes and cleanses is filling the media space, tea rooms and coffee catch ups.

But before we go filling our trolleys with superfoods and looking for the next big thing to make ourselves healthier, here are seven tips to kick off 2017 the healthy way.

1. Forget the words ‘diet’, ‘cleanse’, ‘detox’ and ‘superfoods’

The weight loss industry thrives on these terms. These words offer false promises and go together with food restriction, deprivation, guilt and unnecessary expenses. Nutrition is for life, not two weeks. It is not a one-sizes-fits-all approach, and if you can’t sustain it, then it’s probably not right for you.

2. Clean out and revamp your pantry and fridge

Clean out food that is past its use by date or food you know you won’t use. Fill your pantry with staples such as canned beans, legumes and tomatoes, pasta sauces, stir fry sauces, herbs and spices, and some grains. Stock your freezer with frozen vegetables, lean meat, chicken and/or fish. That way you will always have ingredients on hand to make a healthy meal.

3. Plan

Plan your meals and snacks for the week. Make a shopping list, check your pantry for what you have and go to the shops to buy the rest. This reduces multiple trips to the supermarket where you buy more food than you need, reduces food waste and saves you money.

“Nutrition is for life, not two weeks. If you can’t sustain an eating plan, then it’s probably not right for you.”

4. Try not to label foods as ‘bad’ or as a ‘cheat’ meal

When we put this label on a food, it’s like we are trying to shame ourselves from eating it. In doing so, we often actually crave these foods more. We only have so much willpower and when we do eventually cave and eat, this results in feelings of guilt and worthlessness, all because we ate something nutritionally poor.

5. The same goes for calling foods ‘good’

“This food is good and therefore I can eat it.” There is no moral ground when it comes to food – it does not define who we are. Food is fuel, it is nourishment and it is pleasure. Food is essential to life and you don’t need permission to enjoy it.

6. Don’t cut out food groups (unless medically necessary)

Cutting out carbs, cutting out dairy and going gluten free are all trendy. However, the research around nutrition strongly shows that including foods from the five core food groups in your eating pattern promotes health and wellbeing.

Each food group provides different vital nutrients that your body needs. For example, grain foods like bread, cereal, oats and pasta contain carbohydrates, protein, fibre and a wide range of vitamins and minerals including iron and zinc, which are particularly important in a vegetarian diet. Their fibre content makes them effective in weight management as they take longer to digest and create a feeling of fullness that discourages overeating.

7. Aim to fill half your plate with veggies

By filling half your plate with vegetables, you are more likely to meet your recommended five serves per day target. Vegetables are packed full of vitamins and minerals, and fibre that requires you to chew, keeps you full and prevents overeating.

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