Maintaining a lifestyle that finds a balance between eating well, exercising enough, and being satisfied with it can be tricky.
It is easy to under or overdose, which is never good for you.
Below, corporate nutritionist and Eat Well Live Well ambassador Arthur Ramoroka outlines easy and healthy ways to maintain some balance and keep energised for the remainder of the year.
Balance is key
A healthy lifestyle is a combination of what and how much you eat. Fill half your plate with vegetables, one quarter with starchy high-fibre foods (such as brown rice, and whole wheat pasta), and the remaining quarter with protein (such as chicken, lean meat, fish, eggs, beans, or legumes).
Tip: Eat your fruit instead of drinking them. You’re more likely to overeat fruit when you blend multiple fruits into smoothies or juices.
Fruits contain fructose (a naturally-occurring sugar) that spikes blood sugar levels. If you eat fruit fresh and whole instead, you’re unlikely to eat more than two or three in a single serving because the fibre fills you up.
Children between the ages of 5-17 should do at least an hour of daily, moderate-to-vigorous intensity exercise throughout the week; and vigorous-intensity exercise to strengthen muscles and bones, at least three times a week.
Adults between the ages of 18-64 should do at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or at least 75–150 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise; as well as muscle-strengthening activities that involve all muscle groups at least twice a week.
What is a portion-controlled meal?
A balanced and portion-controlled meal should include foods from each food group to ensure you get the right amount of macronutrients and micronutrients.
Meal planning hack
Portion control begins with planning your meals for the week ahead and shopping with a shopping list. When you know what you’ll be cooking and what you need to buy, you’re less likely to impulse buy foods that are not on your list.
And when you’re satiated while shopping, you’re less likely to be tempted by hunger pangs to buy snacks and treats in the check-out aisle.
Tip: Buy a weekly treat in a single serving size or a portion, rather than a large packet, so you’re not tempted to finish it in one sitting.
Regular meals are a quick win
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day as it energises your body for the day ahead. Skipping meals makes you more likely to overeat during the next meal or later in the day.
This means you’ll often end up eating the same amount of kilojoules in a day just over two meals, instead of three. When we experience a drop in blood sugar, we might reach for a quick energy fix that is high in discretionary nutrients (such as sugar, fat, or salt). Find balance by eating regular, portion-controlled meals that are not too energy-dense.
Tip: Meal timing is also important – eat dinner earlier rather than later. The body does not metabolise glucose in the same way later in the evening (at 6pm rather than 10pm) due to the changes happening in the body because of our circadian rhythm (our sleep-wake cycle). When you give your body time to rest, you’ll wake up feeling rested and refreshed.
Make eating an occasion that’s shared with family, friends, or colleagues. When you take the time to eat slower, you’ll take smaller bites, will eat smaller portions, and are less likely to overeat.
Chewing slowly and socialising during meals gives your brain enough time (about 20 minutes) to receive messages from the stomach that it’s full.
Tip: Wait for at least 15 minutes before taking seconds.
Get enough sleep
Feeling rested will curb your appetite and sugar cravings throughout the day.
Tip: Going to bed at the same time every night will get you into a balanced sleep routine.
Drinking with meals
Drinking a glass of water 15-30 minutes before you eat helps to manage portion control and makes you feel fuller faster.
Drink water or unsweetened, low-calorie drinks, like adding a dash of Brookes’ Tru-Lem Lemon Juice, with your meals, rather than calorie-dense drinks, such as cold drinks, juices, and energy drinks.
Tip: Fibre-rich foods require good water intake. Drinking water may help to move the food through the digestive tract and aid with digestion.