Feed yourself slim

With these 9 simple rules

“These “rules” may or may not be backed up by strong research evidence. I am certainly not claiming that this section provides the only answer to managing weight loss.

Of course it does not. I have written these rules based on my own reading and more importantly, personal experience in my GP work over the last decade of what seems to work. I have joined hundreds of patients in their personal journeys towards a healthier and fitter lifestyle. I strongly believe that if you can follow these 9 simple rules consistently, you will experience benefits within a matter of weeks.” Dr Patel


1. Do not go on special diets; make permanent changes

I have never liked the word “diet”. In my mind, I associate it with words like “temporary”, “sacrifice” and “boring”. People rarely achieve long-term success with special diets, unless of course, this word for them means a lifestyle change that still allows for a balanced nutritional intake. So commit only to changes you believe are sustainable for the years to come.


2. Never miss breakfast

Why oh why do we neglect our bodies by missing breakfast. So many of my patients admit to just having a cup of tea or coffee in the morning. Assuming they have lunch or a mid-morning snack, their body is likely to have gone 16-18 hours without food! You don’t start a long car journey with an empty tank…..you should show your body the same courtesy. So if you wish to make a change, how can you go about it? Well, if you are not used to eating breakfast, even the sight of food may cause nausea. Start by just having a mouthful, say a spoon of cereal. Do this daily for a week and then increase to two spoons. Gradually you will be able to build up to a full breakfast. See the section on glycaemic index to help you make healthy breakfast choices.


3. Drink plenty of pure water throughout the day

Another bug-bear of mine. As a nation we are not lovers of drinking pure water. I have a shocking number of patients who drink either very little or none at all, in its “natural form”. Parents are often to blame. There is no reason why a 2-year old child should “hate” the taste of water, considering it is essentially a “tasteless, colourless liquid”, as I was taught in chemistry class. If the child has been raised on flavoured water or juice then of course he/she will learn to dislike water and show a strong preference to sweeter alternatives. The former should be treats from the age of 4 or 5, rather than part of the daily diet. For those adults who are habit bound to only intake water via other drinks, it is likely to be difficult to make the change. I would suggest that for you, trying no-sugar flavoured water is a good start but then gradually dilute this until you are drinking a pure form of your body’s most essential compound and something nature gives us for free. Drinking plenty of water helps hundreds of metabolic processes in the body. It also promotes strong immunity and helps fat loss.


4. Do not snack on junk between meals, but do snack

Be armed with healthier snacks so when you get a hunger pang, you do not dive for the easiest solution, which may be a pack of biscuits in the staff room. Ensure your own work space does not have any junk food. I used to keep some “comfort food” in the form of chocolate, in my desk drawer at my surgery. The problem was, I found a reason everyday that gave apparent justification to me eating this chocolate. It’s best just not to have it there! I changed to a packet of apricots and some nuts/seeds. Not perfect but certainly healthier.


5. Avoid eating supper within 4 hours of bedtime

Work or family commitments may make this difficult but ideally, you should give your body enough time to digest and burn some of the calories from the meal you have eaten, before you lay down your head for the night.


6. Wait 10 minutes before taking seconds & take less to start with

I have many patients who seem to eat quite healthily but simply eat too much. Calories are calories….your body needs a finite number.


7. Stop weighing yourself

I do not believe this habit helps at all, whether your weight goes up or even down. If you swap your excess fat with some healthy muscle, your weight may in fact go up (as muscle is heavier than fat). I believe the best measure is how well your clothes fit. Your trousers or skirt will not lie to you. If these get looser; you are succeeding.


8. If nothing else, cut down sugar intake

Start thinking of sugar as a weak poison. A patient recently remarked to me: “ But your body needs sugar!” Well yes of course it does but trust me when I say your body will get what it needs from a balanced diet with ease. It really does not need top-ups in the form of two chocolate digestives or a pack of cola bottle sweets. Note, it says “cut down” and not “eliminate”……we all need to enjoy life a little!


9. If you drink alcohol, restrict this to special occasions

Most people are aware that alcohol promotes weight gain. However, when I calculate the number of calories patients are consuming in the form of alcohol on a weekly basis, most are stunned. There are numerous calorie counter tools on the internet. I urge you to have a look at what your usual tipple adds to your calorie intake. If you restrict yourself to a few glasses of red wine, please do not think you are better off than the beer drinkers. Depending on your consumption, you may not be.

Alcohol actually does a lot more. In regards to weight, drinking actually makes your body store more fat and sugar over the days that follow alcohol intake. I know it’s bad news but yet again, my message is to moderate a little more rather than eliminate.