Seven simple strategies to slim in summer

In Trucker's Health, November 20197 MinutesBy Laura PeacockDecember 5, 2019

Following these seven simple steps will help you manage what and when you eat so that you can maintain a healthier, balanced diet.

1. Reduce portion sizes
This is something we hear time and time again, and for good reason. It is a well-known fact that the plates at our grandparents‘ place are much smaller than our share plattersized plates in the cupboard at home. Subconsciously, we aim to fill our plate so that we feel like we are getting a decent-sized meal. By simply using smaller plates you can easily reduce your portion sizes and still feel as though you are filling the plate and your belly (providing you aren‘t going back for seconds, of course).

2. Be prepared
Let‘s face it, we are all extremely busy in our demanding lives and we often struggle to find the time to prepare a nutritious lunch for work every day. However, I have found with my clients that if they are prepared and organised with their food, they are less likely to run to the bakery for a sausage roll or custard square at smoko time. Lunches don‘t have to be gourmet quinoa kale salads, but simply prepping them the night before or in the morning (whatever works best for you) will ensure you make better food choices throughout your busy day.

3. Avoid temptation
This may sound obvious, but if you don‘t have treats in the house, you can‘t eat them. If you know you have a massive sweet tooth you can still eat chocolate, for example, but buy bars instead of blocks so there is less temptation to polish off an entire block. A bar is enough to get a taste and satisfy your cravings. The same goes with packets of chips, biscuits, or buying your go-to treat in bulk: keep the treat sizes small and you can still enjoy your indulgence without going overboard. For me, I buy 70g bags of Brazil nuts instead of the 1kg bags because I can‘t trust myself to ration them out.

4. Keep a food diary
If you are serious about losing weight or reaching your specific health goals, a food diary is a great way to keep track of exactly what is going in your mouth from dusk till dawn. Sometimes you don‘t realise just how much or how little you are eating and drinking. The other helpful aspect of food diaries is recognising your eating patterns and where things may be falling flat. It also highlights what I like to call the ‘danger zone‘. It‘s the time of day where you are most prone to snacking or indulging in some not-so-good foods. For me it‘s after dinner, from 8pm to 9pm, where I feel like I need a little something to finish me off for the day. I make sure I keep busy during this time or have a cup of tea to feel like I am still having something.

5. Set realistic goals
Saying that a potato chip will never touch your lips again is a daunting and unrealistic goal for people who are partial to a potato chip – or an entire bag of them. Let‘s say you have one bag every day. Instead make a goal to have a bag every second day and go from there. As time passes you may wean back to every third day, and so on. I have had many clients swear off a certain food or even food group and one week in they have a massive binge on said food/food group. It‘s important to satisfy your cravings, but in a balanced and controlled way wherever possible

6. Watch that alcohol intake
Drinking is often how people unwind or socialise, which is totally fine. However, looking at what you‘re drinking and how much of it you‘re drinking is important. If you‘re trying to lose weight, drinking will greatly inhibit your progress if you are a moderate to heavy drinker. When one drinks, the body must first process the alcohol before it returns to burning fat, thus slowing the weight-loss process. This doesn‘t mean that you must be Sober Steve all your life, it just means limiting your drinking to a balanced level.

7. Track your calories
If you are serious about losing, gaining or maintaining your weight, then tracking your calories is a great way to make sure that you achieve your goal. You will enter in your age, weight, activity level and your goal and will be given a calorie target to reach each day. I guarantee you will be surprised by how many and how few calories some foods have. My calorie target for each day is 1600 calories. Before I started tracking my calories, I would easily eat four small 70g bags of chopped peanuts on a lazy Sunday arvo watching Netflix. Little did I know, each bag was worth 200 calories, meaning I‘d eaten half of my daily quota purely in nuts. Knowing your calorie intake is crucial to achieving your goals.