UG2: General Health and Diet Tips and Guidance

Make the effort to be healthy if you want a quality of life.

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Introduction
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Some general tips and guidance relating to dieting and healthy living.
'Eat regular meals'
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Eating at regular times during the day helps burn calories at a faster rate. It also reduces the temptation to snack on foods high in fat and sugar.
'Adapt your environment in light of subconscious influences'
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Keep an increasing list of ways subconscious influences pull you towards or away from healthy living, and seek to adjust your environment accordingly. Use of a Feedback Diary can be a particular rich source of examples. A few examples:  using smaller plates and bowls can help you get used to eating smaller portions;  put up pictures of low calorie foods either on your fridge or as background on your electronic devices;  regularly smelling peppermint can help decrease hunger;  don’t stock unhealthy foods at home and if you do have them, don’t feel guilty about just putting them in the bin: why eat something that harms you?.
‘Eat mindfully’
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Pay attention to what you are eating as you are eating it: eat slower and chew more and look to appreciate tastes and textures. As a result you are likely to eat less and feel fuller quickly. Make it a habit to always sit down when you are eating and thus be conscious of what you are eating, which you often are not when you eat whilst walking about. If you commit to only eating when sat down (except possibly when attending some special occasion event) you’ll cut down on inadvertent snacking.
‘Gradually address specific unhealthy habits’
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The following are unhealthy habits, and if you have some (or all?) of them, look to change them, albeit you look to do so a bit at a time:

• Being largely inactive during the day and rarely if ever engaging in physical activity
• Not pre-planning meal and snack choices and relying on convenience, takeout, and eatout options
• Eating whilst distracted
• Not eating a lot of fruits and vegetables
• Drinking alcohol too frequently or large quantities of high sugar drinks
• Choosing more processed foods instead of fibre rich wholegrains
• Eating large amounts of animals products and eat few plant based foods
• Not drinking enough water
‘Have ready reminders for how to overcome specific difficulties’
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You will be readily aware of particular triggers or circumstances that lead to your engaging in particular bad habit or giving into a temptation. These will be repeating time and time again. But they don’t need to. You can find ways of either avoiding certain circumstances or otherwise finding an alternative automatic reaction to given triggers. You can figure these out, but you need for your brain to become instinctively familiar with them, and a way of doing this is to write them down, possibly on a card you can carry around with you, and to frequently look at them, and in particular look at them when you find yourself in certain situations.
‘The importance of good sleeping habits’
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Don’t underestimate the importance of getting enough sleep and having good sleeping habits on your overall wellbeing and on your ability to stick to intent with regards dieting and exercising. Whilst we, or at least most of us, are able to function without getting adequate sleep it does have an impact. Our general ability to think clearly and our willpower are significantly weakened if we are not getting enough sleep, though it is not something we are particularly aware of. There is plenty of advice on-line about good sleeping habits. Make the effort to understand and follow it.
'It’s not just diet and exercise’
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Healthy living isn’t just about diet and exercise. If you have the chance get a health check up from time to time. Make the effort to look after your teeth, and brush them well a couple of times a day and certainly after you’ve finished eating and drinking for the day. If you have pains or lumps that are not readily explainable try to get them checked out. Don’t spend all your time inside, get a bit of fresh air and some sunshine on a regular basis.
'If you don’t have much time to ‘cook’
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There are plenty of shortcuts to get healthy meals and snacks without spending much time. If you ever do have time to cook, you can make big batches and freeze them in single-portion containers so a healthy meal is always ready. Using leftovers for lunch also saves time. It takes nearly no time to wash a piece of fruit or some raw vegetables to munch on, to throw raw vegetables and dried beans or lentils into low-sodium broth for a nutritious soup, or to top bagged salad or spinach leaves with tuna, cheese, or tofu plus olive oil and vinegar. And of course there are many healthy ready-meal options. Do however check the labelling for calories and sugar, fat, and salt content and chose those with lower counts.
'Cravings and urges dissipate'
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If you feel a particular craving or urge to eat something in particular, remind yourself that it is just temporary. It will pass in ten minutes or so, and possibly sooner if you distract yourself and drink a bit of water. Rather than giving in, explicitly remind yourself of the reasons you wish to lose or maintain your weight. Is the momentary pleasure you would get from giving in worth it, noting you will in any case regret it shortly after? Note that you will make a craving worse if you ‘just have a little bit’.
'Simply say ‘NO!’
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If you get into a state of indecision about whether or not to eat something you know you shouldn’t, there is a very high chance that you’ll give in. Much better to think in terms of not giving yourself a choice. You have a plan about what you can and can’t eat, and if something is ‘can’t eat’, then that’s it – you’re not going to eat it, move on. You may find it useful to have a card with you that you can have a look at which simply says: ‘NO!’.
'You can tolerate a bit of hunger’
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Just because you think you feel hungry, this does not mean you need to immediately reach out for something to eat – unless you have a medical condition which means you should. A feelings of hunger may just be a sign of dehydration and what you should really do is have a bit of water.
'Better in the bin'
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Don’t feel as though you need to eat everything that is on your plate in front of you or that you have in the house. Eating food that is more than you need for a healthy diet is doing you damage. Better in the waste bin than in you. In particular note that we often overeat at meal times because we don’t notice how full we are – it takes about 20 mins for our bodies to feel full after we’ve eaten enough. Thus seek to cut down on what you eat as part of a main meal, and generally look to avoid deserts unless it is itself something healthy such as a bit of fruit (without high calorie add-ons).
'Attending an event or going out to eat’
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When attending an event or going out to eat, plan ahead. You may well not be able to follow your normal dieting habits, and you may well not want to stand out in terms of behaving differently to everyone else. Nevertheless there are many ways you can avoid eating and drinking as many calories as you might otherwise do. Choose lower calorie options. Skip starters and/or deserts. Do not eat large portions. Do not consume many calorific drinks. You can allow yourself to go above your normal ‘allowance’ whilst still avoiding ‘blowing it’.
'When going on a trip or vacation, plan ahead’
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It may or may not be possible to continue with a particular diet whilst you are away from home for an extended period, however it is certainly possible to keep any increase in calories far lower than it might otherwise have been. Be conscious of the sorts of foods that will be available for you and ensure you understand their calorie content before you go. It may be that you take some of your foodstuffs with you. Also be very aware of the calorie content of any drinks you might be consuming whilst away, and water, possibly flavored, is always an available option for most of your liquid intake. You may well get more exercise whilst away on a trip however this will not compensate for any significant increase in calories.
'Have someone to talk to'
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Not for everyone, but a lot of people benefit from having someone they can talk to. Following a branded diet plan may include this. It may be that you pay for a coach. Or it might just be a friend or family member who can support and encourage you and to whom you can go to when things are difficult or to help pick you up when things are difficult. AI (Artificial Intelligence) coaches also exist and are very likely to become ever more popular.