As we welcome a new year, maintaining a healthier lifestyle is sure to be among your new year’s resolutions. Many among us would already be worried about shedding the extra pounds accumulated during the holiday season. However, the good news is, according to Google Trends in 2018; people around the world were genuinely interested in a better lifestyle and searched for healthier food and diet options. In Sri Lanka, vegetarianism, diet plans and weight loss were some of the key search terms that piqued interests. As you reflect and choose your goals to pursue, Health Capsule will help you identify, plan and prepare your journey towards a healthier 2019. As we welcome a new year, maintaining a healthier lifestyle is sure to be among your new year’s resolutions. Many among us would already be worried about shedding the extra pounds accumulated during the holiday season. However, the good news is, according to Google Trends in 2018; people around the world were genuinely interested in a better lifestyle and searched for healthier food and diet options. In Sri Lanka, vegetarianism, diet plans and weight loss were some of the key search terms that piqued interests. As you reflect and choose your goals to pursue, Health Capsule will help you identify, plan and prepare your journey towards a healthier 2019.
In Sri Lanka, our meals mostly comprise rice and products of rice flour or wheat flour, be it a simple dish of rice and curry or string hoppers and dhal. Sri Lankans are also accustomed to a heavy portion of rice or a similar carbohydrate source exceeding the amount of vegetables or proteins. It is important to limit this intake and also to replace foods with refined carbohydrates, such as polished rice, bread, string hoppers, noodles made of refined flour. Instead, opt for whole grains such as green gram, cowpea, gram, red rice or olu rice, which are now easily available in the market. Roots such as yams are made of complex carbohydrates which are also good for you.
Say No to Sugar
Years of research have proved that similar to addictive drugs such as cocaine, consuming sugar can easily become an addiction. Overcoming a need for sugar could mean that you’re finally closer to your weight loss goals; which guarantee a number of benefits.
Added sugars are those found in foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared. Many sugary snacks and beverages in the market are based on sugar, honey or jaggery which are mono-sacharides -glucose, fructose or disaccharides- sucrose. What this means is that soft drinks, sugar added juices, flavoured milk, sweetened tea and coffee, sports drinks or energy drinks give your body sugar that it doesn’t need. These products are sweetened with either sucrose or high-fructose. Emerging evidence suggests that greater consumption as well as habits of regular sugar intake is associated with abdominal obesity. Opt to consume naturally occurring sugars such as those found in milk and fruits. Whole fruits, which are extremely healthy and have plenty of fiber mitigates the negative effects of fructose.
Limit Trans Fats and Saturated Fats
Margarines, bakery products such as biscuits and cakes, potato chips, popcorn and deep fried fast food such as the patty in your burger or fried chicken, all contain Trans fats. Saturated fats on the other hand come mainly from animal products, red meat, whole milk dairy products such as ice-cream and cheese. Trans fat has a very powerful association with weight gain, even more than other types of fat, even when calories are controlled. If trans fats intake is limited to less than 1% of the total fat consumption, you should be well on track with your health goals.
Sri Lankans are known to consume a lot of Coconut oil. Even though it is a plant based source of saturated fat, coconut oil is high in fatty acids of a Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). These fatty acids have been shown to boost satiety compared to other fats, as well as increase the amount of calories burned. Replacing any other cooking fats or oils with small amounts of coconut oil is advised.
More proteins mean less hunger
If you’re constantly craving for snacks in between meals, increasing the intake of protein will help you. It will not only reduce hunger, but also make you feel full and thereby prevent over indulging. Proteins will also increase the metabolic rate and control loss of muscle mass which can occur in weight loss in the long-run.
Sources of high-protein foods that can be added to the daily diet are whole eggs, fish, dried fish, meat, legumes, nuts, and dairy products such as yoghurt and fresh milk. According to the latest data, experts now recommend the consumption of one egg per day for a healthy adult.
Increasing the amount of fibre in your diet is not just an old wives’ tale. The intake of food containing fiber has shown to slow down visceral fat accumulation by improving satiety, suppressing appetite and delaying gastric emptying. The next time you do your grocery shopping, look for whole grain bread, brown rice, unpolished grains such as kurakkan and oats, corn, vegetables such as kohila, ladies fingers, carrots as well as fruits such as wood apple, guava, mango and bananas.
The importance of drinking adequate amounts of water cannot be stressed more, especially when Sri Lanka has tropical weather all year round. Adults need 1-2 liters (8 cups of 200ml volume) of water daily. You must remember that this number varies depending on activity level and age. Always carry a bottle of water with you and try to replace the intake of sweetened beverages with water and fresh fruits to keep you happy and hydrated.
*People with chronic diseases such as heart diseases and kidney diseases need to get medical advice on how much water they should drink per day
Engaging in exercises
On most days, exercise can feel like the last thing you want to do before or after a long day at work. It may however surprise you that Neuroscientific findings support the view that a healthy mind really does depend on a healthy body. The right amount and variety of exercise can promote mental health, eliminate stress and promote emotional wellbeing. Regular aerobic exercise is especially important to reduce abdominal fat, a problem a majority of Sri Lankans suffer from. Aerobic exercise such as walking, running, swimming or playing a sport for 30-60 minutes on most days of the week has been shown to prevent fat accumulation in problem areas of the body.
Flavoured milk, sweetened tea and coffee, sports drinks or energy drinks give your body sugar that it doesn’t need. These products are sweetened with either sucrose or high-fructose
De-stress and sleep well
Cortisol levels in the body will increase with stress. High cortisol levels contribute to accumulation of abdominal fat and a host of other health issues such as fatigue, irritability, headaches, and intestinal problems. Therefore stress relieving activities such as listening to music, meditation, exercise and deep breathing exercises on regular basis can help you a great deal. De-stressing will also help you to a better night’s sleep and prepare you for a fresh start.