We all recognise that our health is our biggest asset but how can we go about protecting and enhancing this vital resource? The aim of this short report is to provide some direction towards protecting your health and improving your physical condition in the lead up to a holiday.
IMPROVING YOUR HEALTH AND WELLBEING
By Kunle Odetoyinbo MSc BSc CN Med.
Sports Physiologist Tottenham Hotspur Football Club
PART FOUR: TOP 10 HEALTHY EATING TIPS
In fourteen days there is only so much trimming up you can do. Healthy eating is really more about getting into good habits and sticking to them. It’s about little things like substituting a ready meal for a proper dinner including fresh vegetables, and not snacking on chocolate every afternoon but eating an apple instead. The following ten tips advise you on getting into good habits, without having to cut out all the treats you enjoy.
Be sure to drink plenty of water — about 2 litres is the recommended daily amount for adults. Our hydration status influences almost everything we do and dehydration can cause fatigue, dizzyness and even sickness. Despite this, few of us drink enough of this important nutrient, instead we drink coffee, tea and fizzy drinks, which are all diuretics (i.e. promote water loss from the body). Make sure you consume the recommended daily amount perhaps by substituting a cup of coffee or pint of lager that you would normally drink for a bottle of water each day. Exercise increases the need for water, as do increases in environmental temperature. It is therefore important to take water during the day at regular intervals and especially during exercise.
2) Get rid of the junk
Reduce the amount of processed foods (e.g. crisps and chocolate) and those high in sugar. Most of these types of foods have been stripped of their nutrients and are simply high in calories. Confectionery and ready-made meals fall into this category and should be replaced to by suitable whole foods.
If you look at the shopping list of most families or individuals over the course of a month, a clear pattern emerges. This pattern is not just evident in the type of foods we eat but also the places we shop! Attempt to increase both the variety of food groups you consume including meats, fruit, vegetables, dairy products and the places you buy them from. Increase the variety of foods that you eat by trying produce from independent shops and foods you haven’t eaten before.
Increase the amount of complex carbohydrates in your diet relative to fat and protein. These include pasta, rice, potatoes and bread - foods which release energy slowly throughout the day and support exercise and training. For so many of our bodily functions carbohydrate plays an important role and it is unhealthy for us to feed this requirement to heavily through the intake of simple carbohydrates like chocolate!
Society seems obsessed with high protein intakes at the expense often or complex carbohydrates discussed above. Some individuals do have a higher requirement but it remains more important in most cases to increase the quality of protein consumed rather than the quantity. Proteins are made up of units called amino acids of which our body makes some and is unable to make others. Therefore our bodies require select amino acids through certain foods. We should consume a variety of meats and fish with regular doses of whole grain (e.g. cereals), nuts, seeds and beans.
Make yourself more aware of your fat intake without becoming overly obsessed about it. Fat actually plays an important role in the body and should make up between 25-35% of our food consumed. Make small adjustment slowly by realising the need for balance between types of fat consumed.
7) Body not fat...
Become body composition conscious not weight conscious. How much we weigh is not the most important determinant of our health in many regards. In fact, in many cases putting on weight is perceived as a bad thing when it may be that the weight gain is due to muscle building or even water intake, not fat. Seek professional help at your local leisure centre or doctor’s surgery and have your body composition assessed, this will tell you how much fat (%) you have relative to muscle and other tissues in your body.
Increase the amount of fibre consumed. It plays an important role in our health, particularly digestion, cholesterol and blood sugar control and has become less fashionable recently. Fibre is obtained through whole grain cereals, vegetables and fruit.
9) Dietary supplements
We are currently over obsessed with supplements at the expense of eating a healthy diet. The important thing to note is that in most cases supplements are only of use if there is a known deficiency! In many cases therefore you are literally throwing money down the pan. So, become less obsessed with these by eating the right amounts of foods that contain them naturally, like fruit and vegetables.
Increase the amount of antioxidant protection you have. Science has demonstrated that we are all under attack from free radical species which is substances that result from our consumption of oxygen, literally attacking the cells of in our body. We have our own natural defences but in many cases where diet is poor and in those individuals who exercise infrequently the amount of potential damage to our bodies is increased. Since much of this damage has been linked to disease, ageing and various medical conditions we can all give ourselves a helping hand by dietary modification. Eating fresh vegetables and citrus fruits provide us with some protection (as well as the occasional glass of red wine!).
11) The Obvious!
Try this program in association with the tips given above. Whilst performing this program ensure that you are safe to perform the exercises and that you are medically able to do so. Try to abstain from alcohol for two-week period, except for the red wine treats! G ood luck and enjoy your holiday in the knowledge that you have made some positive changes and look and feel great.
CALL THE SPURS HOLIDAY LINE ON 08705 502 568
TOMORROW: TOP PRE-HOLIDAY EXPOSURE TIPS
Fancy getting fit for a holiday, for summer or perhaps the start of your football season? Our fitness coach Kunle Odetoyinbo shows the way in a special series for our sponsors Thomson...