Start eating healthy today, enjoy your beach days tomorrow
It’s that time of year again. As people turn their attention to the annual summer holidays, the intensity turns up on weight loss and achieving the perfect beach body. Newspaper articles appear with headlines such as “6 weeks to a bikini body” and so on. All the articles I see are focusing on weight loss and being a size 8. As a nutritionist, I see a lot of women (and men) cutting out food groups completely, going on a crash diet, or starting a liquid-only diet, many weeks before their summer holiday. In my opinion, if you can put a bikini on, then you are “bikini ready”. Anybody — everybody—is a bikini body.
For those of you not convinced by this, I do have a few tips to share on being bikini body confident – see below.
Rather than talk about weight loss, can we instead think about how we can arrive at our holiday destination full of energy and in optimum health? If you ask a few Nutritionists what the secret is, they will all tell you hydration is key. Nearly every client I see is dehydrated – remember that tea and coffee don’t count (apart from herbal teas). Drink lots of filtered water, with perhaps lemon, lime or cucumber slices in. In addition, being hydrated will show as clear skin, sparkling eyes and also help with digestion of nutrients from the food you are eating. It will also encourage regular bowel movements. On average, aim for 2 litres a day. – more in hot weather or if you are exercising a lot.
If bloating is a problem, then avoiding gas inducing foods such as broccoli, peppers and onions will help. Include water-based vegetables such as cucumber, spinach and asparagus in your diet and drink either fennel or ginger tea. Eat probiotic foods that will increase your good bacteria in your gut. Examples include natural yoghurts, sauerkraut and sip apple cider vinegar between meals. All will help towards a flat stomach.
For a couple of weeks beforehand, maximise the amount of vitamin C in your diet. Vitamin C works closely with collagen in your body. Drinking a bone broth soup (google a quick recipe for this) teamed with eating oranges, kiwi’s, broccoli, red peppers and kale will do wonders for your skin and also help reduce the appearance of cellulite. Vitamin C is a good all rounder in terms of immunity and general health. Flooding your body with lots of Vitamin C will only be beneficial.
To stop hunger pangs, every time you eat something, ask yourself “Where is the protein in this meal?”. Protein helps regulate blood glucose levels and will stop you reaching for the biscuits. So if you are snacking on an apple, perhaps eat a few almonds with it. If you are having a piece of toast, spread it with peanut butter (or almond butter) and eat baked beans with a baked potato. Remember that protein can be either vegetable or animal protein. Good sources of vegetable protein are avocados, lentils, beans and nuts. Good sources of animal protein are organic chicken or fish.
There is evidence to show that if you start by eating a healthy, nutritious breakfast, then it is easy to maintain this for the rest of the day. The best breakfast is one with foods that are high protein. This will also keep you fuller for longer and offer more nutrients than a sugary bowl of cereal. Try smoked salmon with avocado (both are good forms of protein) or porridge with berries (vitamin C) and milled flaxseeds (high in protein). Or perhaps a spinach omelette with chunks of red pepper?
For a couple of weeks beforehand, see if you can avoid eating any food that comes out of a packet. This may be difficult at first – but eating unprocessed foods that have many more vitamins and nutrients than processed foods will help with digestion, energy and mood. Breakfast can be a homemade smoothie full of delicious berries, avocado and flax seeds. Lunch could be a homemade salad of rocket, raw spinach leaves, cucumber and cooked salmon (sprinkle some soy sauce over for extra taste) and dinner chicken skewers with mushrooms, halloumi cheese and sweet potato wedges.
If all else fails, just remember: It’s not about what size you wear. It’s about how you wear your size.