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Eating for health and happiness

Why is eating for health and happiness so complicated?

There are so many diets and different approaches you can take. So, which should you choose?

Firstly, I’d like to introduce a concept. Eating for health and eating for weight loss are linked but not the same. Imagine this scenario, you work 9-5 in an office, you get out for a few walks a week and attend 2 fitness classes. On average you eat around 2000 kcal a day and you find that this keeps you the same weight week after week. In fact, your weight hasn’t changed more than 1kg up or down in the last couple of years. If you eat a mix of whole foods, covering a wide variety of foods, you mainly cook at home and you limit the amount of processed food in your diet you are probably healthy, GREAT!

Now what about this scenario, everything is the same except you don’t eat breakfast, lunch is always from McDonalds (or another fast food place), dinner is a bar of chocolate. You consume 5 coffee’s a day and several cans of diet coke. It is entirely possible to eat this and keep to 2000 kcal a day. You would be staying the same weight, but I think we can all agree it is likely other health markers are likely to be going wrong. Your skin will feel greasy, you might have gastrointestinal discomfort. Other normal functions of the body are likely to start being less optimal and there is a bunch of health issues you might start to face.

The above are two extremes and the likelihood is that if your weight stays the same week on week then you are somewhere between the two. They are just to show that health and weight management can be different.

On the other side of the coin what if the above person eats 3000kcal a day of whole foods. You have a good intake of water each day, avoid processed food and mainly get those calories from meat, fish, potatoes, pasta, rice, vegetables etc. The person is going to put on weight. If this person is doing enough exercise to stimulate muscle growth, then some of the weight will be muscle but some will also be fat. The scales will gradually go up.

The final scenario takes our person and gives them 3000kcal of KFC, McDonalds and Dominoes pizza. Sugary drinks, chocolate and cakes are all regularly on the menu. This is going to cause weight gain, but the likelihood is that a lot of that gain is going to be fat storage.

So, the question is do you want to focus on eating for health or weight management? Would you like to do both? Do you even know where you are right now?

If you had a money problem the first thing you would do with a financial advisor would be to assess all of your outgoings and see how you can minimise these. At the same time you assess your current income levels and see what you can do to maximise this. The first goal is to get your monthly outgoings less than your income. The same is true for weight management and kcal’s are your currency.

Having worked with many clients over the years I find that our memories can be ropey when it comes to what we eat over the course of a week. So, my challenge to you this week is to write down everything that you eat for the week. Try and do it as you go, sitting down at the end of the day you sometimes forget things that happened. Please include all food and drink.

I know this might seem a pain but just try it for 7 days. Let’s find out what your daily/weekly food intake is like. At the end of the week sit down and have a look. How much of it would you say is healthy food? What do you notice about what you eat and drink and when you do it? If you could change one thing for next week to be healthier what would it be?

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