Balancing the Scales
Balancing the Scales
When thinking about weight management in a general perspective, whether you are shift working or not, it’s important that you are enhancing awareness about what you’re eating on a day to day basis. You can do this by starting a food journal or diary, you can do this on your phone in the notes section or actually keeping track in a little notebook. This is a great tool to identify when you are snacking or grazing on things that you wouldn’t necessarily think about as a meal.
These hidden calories can add up over time and lead to weight gain. If you can identify your eating pattern, you can start to consider when you’re eating this way and start to think about how you can engage in a better eating pattern at your next meal to prevent grazing. Thinking about balanced meals containing proteins, fats and high fibre carbs can help your blood sugar control and help you feel satiated. It’s important when you’re on any kind of weight loss journey that you are actually enjoying foods that you’re eating because even though you may be full, you may not be satisfied. Thinking about the flavour profiles or the cuisine styles you enjoy will be key to your success. When we think of those balanced meals, every single macronutrient has a part to play in your weight loss journey.
The protein in foods such as meat, fish, eggs, legumes and tofu can help you retain lean muscle mass as well as helping you feel fuller for longer. High fibre carbohydrates, whether that be a whole grain piece of bread, quinoa, brown rice or bulgar wheat, can help you balance your blood sugar so you’re less likely to have low blood sugar and subsequently, sugar cravings. Healthy fats such as seeds, nuts and healthy oils can help slow down gastric emptying, slowing down the release of food into the digestive tract and making you feel fuller for longer
Thinking about all those macronutrients at every meal can really support you on your journey to curb hunger and also feel nourished. However, you may want to think of different proportions of these foods when you’re on a weight loss journey. The portions of these macronutrients are going to be key.
When thinking about protein, the size and thickness of your palm of a protein source would be an appropriate amount of protein at every meal. A carbohydrate portion would be anything you can fit in one hand and vegetables that can fit in 2 hands will support you in your weight loss journey. Fats are also important and you can think of limiting oil to 1-2 teaspoons when cooking.
Let’s set realistic goals, around 1.5-2 lbs of weight loss per week as a healthy weight loss goal that won’t lead to a weight regain because you’re not going to be losing weight too quickly. Additionally, you can think about 2-3 changes you can make to your daily eating which will lead to lasting change and hopefully new habits. Maybe consider optimizing your evening meal by reducing your carbohydrate portion. You can think about your snacks and how you can make them more balanced and low in sugar or fat. These are all simple changes that over time lead to great results.
Let’s not forget about activity! Increasing your activity level whether that’s taking the stairs instead of the lift or even getting in more steps by getting off the train or bus a stop earlier, these steps all add up. Also, try to engage in strength based activity which may include things like walking up hill, yoga or resistance bands. This can help build or retain lean muscle in combination with the protein you will be having at every meal. This ensures more metabolically active tissue which can burn calories at rest.