We all know the general rule about weight management – if we consume more energy than we use each day, we gain weight. One thing we may be discovering right now is that it's a pretty fine line - which is where the Nutracheck App can help.
Most of us have been confined to our homes over recent weeks so our daily energy output is likely to have fallen, making balancing our energy in and energy out a little more challenging. Not to mention the additional visits to the fridge and snack cupboard during the day!
But gaining weight is not inevitable! Nutracheck can help you track your food and exercise to get the balance right. Follow these 6 simple steps and you can come out of lockdown healthier, not heavier.
Logging what you eat each day is a sure-fire way to manage your calorie intake and get really helpful insights to improve your diet. Keeping track of what and how much you're eating could be the difference between having 1 custard cream vs 4 custard creams. When you know you've got to log it, you may think twice about eating it!
Keeping a food diary doesn't have to be hard work. The Nutracheck App makes tracking what you eat super-fast and easy with time-saving features such as remembering the foods you eat regularly, copying your diary to future days, and saving your favourite recipes in a personal recipe book. Check out our tips for fast and easy tracking.
Staying on top of portion sizes is crucial – even if you're eating healthily you could still be having too much of a good thing. Do you pour out your cereal, rice and pasta until it looks like a reasonable amount? Well the truth is, a 'serving' can be hard to judge just by appearance. Research from Oregon State University revealed that even dietetic students struggle to accurately estimate portion size (and therefore calorie counts) from photos. Only 38% guessed the weight of the food pictured to within 10% of the correct figure. The best guessers were those who regularly cooked and weighed ingredients. The only way to get an accurate calorie count is to weigh food until you have a really good picture in your head of what a 'serving' looks like.
Use a smaller plate or bowl to help you manage portion sizes. When dishing up your meals, load half your plate with low calorie veg, before filling a quarter with starchy carbs and a quarter with lean protein. Filling up on healthy, low cal veg means you get a well loaded plate while still keeping total calories in check.
The saying is 'Failing to plan is planning to fail!'. A top tip for success is to know what you're going to eat in advance – that way you'll know if you have any calories left to play with for an evening treat. It's much better to get to the end of the day with a few calories planned in for a treat, than to use up your allowance, crave something sweet and end up over your calorie target.
Planning has never been more important than it is right now. With limited trips out advised, stocking up for days at a time is important. You can only do this well by planning your meals in advance. Check out our tips on how to do a healthy two week shop.
Remaining active is so important and still perfectly achievable during lockdown. You can't have failed to notice the plethora of virtual home exercise sessions now on offer online! These are highlighting how we can really get our heart rate up by working out at home. It's also important to be generally more active around the house and to maximise our daily exercise when we can. Staying active is not only important for our physical health, but our mental health too – and it will also help balance out a few of those extra treats! If you're getting out for a walk each day. Check out our tips on how to maximise your walk.
It's something we don't immediately connect to our weight, but adequate sleep is hugely important. Ensuring you are getting between 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night helps to keep you feeling alert and your immune system functioning at its best. Inadequate sleep has also been linked to poorer food choices, which can lead to weight gain if not managed. It makes sense that if we feel tired, we are more likely to reach for easy food options that may not be the healthiest. And the longer we are awake, the bigger the opportunity to eat ('eating window').
Try to prioritise sleep by establishing a good night time routine. Avoid too much blue screen time late into the evening, instead opt for a book to help you dose off. If you need to wind down, have a soak in the bath. Head to bed at a reasonable hour to allow yourself time to drift off naturally and ensure you can get in your allotted 7-9 hours before the alarm goes off the next morning. Another thing to consider is how much alcohol you are drinking as this disrupts sleep quality. While the odd glass of wine right now is something we all enjoy, try not to overdo it to help protect your sleep routine.
We have a unique opportunity at the moment to slow down a little and to give more focus to ourselves. The tips above focus particularly on our physical health and wellbeing, but our mental health is equally as important. To practice self care means to take the time to check in with yourself and what you need. What's going on in the world is not within our control – but there are plenty of things that are. Like how you handle the challenges thrown at us and how you look after yourself and others during this time.
Every day, plan in several things you enjoy throughout the day to keep your spirits up. Schedule a call with a friend, watch an episode of your favourite programme, cook something delicious, play a fun game, listen to some music – whatever it is that makes you happy. You could also try keeping a gratitude diary – where you note down some or all of the things you're grateful for each day. This can really help to shift our perspective and start us off on the right mental footing each day!
Nutritionist Emma Brown (ANutr), MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.