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Eating Habit Tips

Tips for Better Eating Habits

Don’t eat on the run, eat meals sitting at a table and if possible with other people, to encourage eating to be pleasurable and avoid digestive problems.

Eat small meals more often to avoid binging when hungry and to encourage only eating until feeling full. This will stabilise blood sugar levels. The longer someone goes without a meal the more blood sugar levels drop, as blood sugar levels drop, people experience sweet cravings.

Alter daily eating patterns to ensure the largest meal of the day is breakfast. In the morning the body has possibly not consumed any food for 12 hours, therefore at this time people are likely to feel most hungry and have the highest need for energy. It’s a good suggestion to eat when feeling hungry!

Eat less fast food by making time for food preparation and cooking. If still eating out, choose healthier options from alternative restaurants.

Don’t eat after 6pm in the evening if possible. Blood gathers in the digestive organs and sleep quality is reduced as a result.

Don’t snack in front of the TV. Drink water instead.

Don’t cut out all food pleasures, this will only create a desire for things that are no longer available.

Your Questions Answered: FAQ's about Nutrition

Do weight loss diets work?

Weight loss diets are a very popular part of newspaper articles, features in popular magazines and nutritional literature. While a quick internet search brings up hundreds of thousands of sites related to diets and weight loss. Very often these sources advocate ‘quick fixes’ to an obesity problem. They have attractive headline promises that advise us to eliminate a certain food group such as carbohydrates so that weight drops off, or suggesting dieters take a supplement or eat particular foods such as celery to speed up metabolism and promote weight loss. In view of this here are some things to consider when thinking of following a dietary plan you have read about/ heard of on TV or before advocating this plan to someone else:

What is the cost of a plan?

There is considerable variance in the costs of weight loss plans with some costing thousands of pounds/dollars a year. Prices can reflect the degree of support offered e.g. whether advice is generalised or individualised/tailor made, or whether the cost includes products supplied with a diet such as meal replacement foods or drinks. However, there are many instances where the price of a weight loss service seems far in excess of the costs involved or where a service does not provide anything additional to services that are free or at low cost.

What is the success rate of a dietary plan? 

Before investing in a diet it is important to know its success rate and how success has been measured. Beware also of unrealistic amounts of reported weight loss such as plans promising weight loss in the region of 5-71bs (2.3-3.2kg) per week. With regard to the degree of success promoted, potential dieters should consider whether claims can be substantiated. Effective weight loss requires a gradual sustained loss in weight and for target weight loss goals to be maintained. Therefore effective dietary plans need to have followed dieters up at distinct intervals e.g. at 3 months/6 months and 12 months, showing evidence of success such as the amount of sustained weight loss at these intervals.

If research studies are referenced, how valid is this research?

Check for details such as whether the research has been subject to peer review. Is the research contradicted by other studies, or if you are looking into a weight lost service which has cost implications, check other pieces of research looking into free services/ diet plans and compare the results of each plan. Effective weight loss is linked to following sound nutritional advice, taking regular physical activity and having the motivation to stick to a dietary plan, it does not necessarily relate to monetary outlay.

Who is promoting a plan?

If you have read about a successful weight loss plan in the media try to ascertain who has written the article and whether it has been funded by the company behind the plan because this will bias any claims made. Also be aware of the influence of celebrity endorsements of dietary plans. The attractive slim celebrities who profess to follow a particular diet will also benefit from ‘lucky genes’ as well as having a team of people behind them such as chefs, physical activity trainers, make-up artists and even plastic surgeons; things that are beyond the reach of the ‘average’ person.

Does the plan require you to take drugs, herbs or supplements?

pThere are many types of supplements and miracle diet pills marketed at would be dieters. However, many of these have not proved effective when subject to controlled trials and some have even proved to be dangerous to health. Some pills to look out for contain plants such as Ephedra and a shrub called Country Mallow which are used to decrease appetite and have both proven to be detrimental to health. While other supplements such as Chromium, Chitosan and Conjugated Linoleic acid have attracted too little research to show any definite effects and should, therefore, only be recommended as a trial rather than advocating any miracle effects.

Does nutritional supplementation work?

Nutritional supplements comprise vitamins, minerals, herbs and natural food supplements which are used to enhance a diet by providing additional nutrients. As with weight loss diets, nutritional supplements attract widespread attention in the popular press. These supplements are also associated with widespread claims such as claims that they can improve appearance, affect mood and cognitive ability and treat and even cure disease.

When evaluating advice on nutritional supplements consider the fact that research referred to can be biased. Internet sites or sponsored newspaper/ magazine articles that aim to sell a particular supplement are only likely to show research backing up any claims they have made and not likely to indicate studies that dispute their benefits. To maximize sales the advice provided is also unlikely to discuss members of the population who wouldn't benefit from nutritional supplementation e.g. healthy adults following a balanced diet.

When researching the benefits of nutritional supplements also be cautious of advice that suggests a role of nutritional supplementation in stress prevention or suggesting that they provide you with more energy as both of these claims are unproven. Also beware of advice suggesting that supplements can replace a healthy balanced diet or that they can cause rapid weight loss or cure disease or replace drugs prescribed by a doctor.

Managing Weight and Well-Being

There are a great number of factors to consider when talking about diet, and what may work for one individual may not be good for another. Some steps to improve diet may be relatively straightforward - eat less sugary food, eat more of a balanced diet including fresh fruit and vegetables. One simple course of action is to drink more water - drinking around a litre of water first thing in the morning can detox and start your metabolism, whilst replacing sugary drinks with water is a healthier option, and drinking more water before meals can help reduce appetite.

But, there are a great many different things to understand both in terms of nutritional values of different food groups, as well as differing needs for different people.

Some people are able to manage a balanced diet plan, whereas others need help and encouragement to achieve their desired goals.

ACS offer a number of courses that can help you understand more about nutrition, and which can help you to help others plan food and diet more effectively as part of a healthier approach to living. Courses include Nutrition for Weight Loss which focusses on learning about nutrition, and the Advanced Certificate in Nutritional Counselling which offers training in human nutrition and counselling.

If you are interested in learning more about human nutrition either to help yourself, or as training in delivering counselling services, we offer a selection of courses to help you learn. They are taught by highly qualified experts. If you have any questions or would like to discuss study options to meet your goals, why not get in touch with our specialist tutors today - they will be happy to help you.

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