Is your diet ruining your training?
Ditch the unhealthy for the healthy and feel the difference!
The thought of being fitter and healthier appeals to all of us.
Sometimes we are too easily put off. Wherever you turn, magazines, television, the internet and the pub expert all shout out about a dazzling array of devices, diets, tricks, and techniques to give you a model’s body which combines the endurance of an ultra-runner, the power of a heavy weight boxer, the flexibility of a gymnast and the controlled calm of Mary Poppins.
Between work, family, social activities and the desire for a glass of wine in front of the TV, the opportunity to regularly practise yoga, kickboxing and downhill mountain biking with a personal trainer called Karl seems pretty remote. And you do not have a personal cook to prepare your food made of organic ingredients freshly grown on your ranch.
But ditch the celebrity magazine view of health. The biggest steps to a healthy life are also the simplest. Taking up a sensible level of exercise is a great move. But tidying up your diet is a huge, yet simple step. Many western countries are reporting that the cost of overweight people to their health service is 4 times higher than the cost of smoking. Now that’s a turn-around!
As well as the financial cost of these food related diseases and health problems there is also the suffering or discomfort that goes with each of these. Plus many people have diets that may not mean they are ill but they are not as healthy as they could be.
So what can you do about it? As we have said tidying up your diet is actually fairly simple.
Aim to eat six to 11 servings of bread, cereal, rice and pasta. One serving is a slice of bread, half a cup of cooked pasta or rice or an ounce of cereal. Other foods in this group include muffins or bagels. Remember whole wheat or wholegrain is healthiest.
In a day you should eat two to four servings of fruit. As with vegetables this is a half cup sized portion per serving, or a medium sized piece of fruit.
Obviously these two categories, fruit and vegetables, add up to five to nine portions in total. You may have heard people talking about five portions of fruit or veg a day. This should be enough to prevent diseases associated with deficiencies in the main vitamins and minerals but more can be done to optimise your health.
Dairy products are a key part of your diet. If you have or think you have a dairy allergy speak to you doctor about this. Otherwise each day you should have two or three servings. One serving may be a cup of milk, a pot of yoghurt or 1.5 to 2 ounces of cheese.
For protein and other nutrients you should eat two or three servings of meat (including poultry or fish), beans, eggs and nuts each day. One serving would be two to three ounces of lean meat, two or three eggs, or a cup to a cup and a half of beans.
Sweets, fats and oils should be kept to a minimum.
There are three key times to remember these rules:
- When you shop. Make sure you have all the ingredients and foods you need, but not excessive amounts of the ones you should be avoiding. (If they’re not there you can’t eat them)
- When you cook. Think of what you are going to prepare and how this, with the other meals of the day, will help you meet your targets.
- When you eat. Think about what you are eating, particularly if you are having a snack, when you can just grab and eat. Snacks such as a piece of fruit, bagel or some raisins can help towards a good diet rather than having a negative impact.
If you are eating well, you should not need suppliments, however, if you've been unwell or in periods of heavy training, you could take a vitamin suppliment. Make sure it's giving you enough though as the typical over the counter brands are a waste of money.