So summer is over where many of us have been overeating and enjoying the best, tastiest food while perhaps being a little lazier than normal.
Those swimsuits we fought hard to fit in at the beginning of summer may seem a lot smaller on us now that they might have in May!
As we get back into the routine of work during the oncoming darker months of winter, perhaps thinking of the Christmas feasting to come in just a few months time, is now a good time to look at burning off the flab?
In this article we will look at the different ways of eating away those added inches on our waistlines.
"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." (Hippocrates of Kos, quote)
The first thing we need to consider is what we take into our bodies. The 'balanced diet' is something that healthy eating aficionados like to harp on about at length.
Lets drill down into what makes a balanced diet.
CARBS should form 50% of our diet. These are sugars that our bodies need to burn doing everything from thinking to hard physical exercise.
As a general rule the more complex the sugar, the better it is for you though we do need simple sugars in our diet
Complex sugars include bread, potato, and rice starch.
Simple sugars include fructose from fruit and vegetables; and sucrose ('table sugar') that we might find in sweets.
Should form 20% to our diet, or one in five parts of our meals.
Proteins are used as the building blocks for nerves, muscles, skin, blood and tendons for example.
There are two broad sources of protein - from leading animal meat, dairy products or eggs; and from seeds (nuts), pulses (beans), cereals and mushrooms.
Vegetarians and vegans when eating a proper diet do not need meat, dairy or eggs.
Not all FATS are bad! Fats should be around 30% of our diet. A good Mediterranean diet will contain a lot of unsaturated fats from things like olive oil, almonds, avocado, oilseeds (such as rape) and oily fish such as sardines and salmon.
Despite what the gurus will tell you, you also need a certain amount of saturated fat. Broadly speaking unsaturated fat is liquid at room temperature, with saturated fat being solid at room temperature.
Saturated fats include animal fat, lard, butter, cheese and cream though veggies can source these from different seeds and indeed later hot pressings of olive oil.
The reason why you put on weight from eating too much is because you're not burning it off as quickly as you consume the stuff.
There's your answer: get more exercise when you eat more food. Doing a yacht charter in Greece in the winter months will often involve high levels of exercise relative to the amount of food you eat for example! Equally taking advantage of the sports available in your own climate - skiing, hill walking and going to the gym in winter months can help burn off the blubber.
Humanity can put on weight so we can survive times of drought and low food intake such as the winter months in Northern Europe. You will find that northern and mountain peoples tend to have high saturated fat diets as a bit of blubber in the winter months can keep you warm without putting central heating on!
Modern life has moved on - even Norsemen travel between bubbles of centrally heated comfort in the depths of winter, very much the same as those who live on the coast of the Mediterranean where the sun keeps them warm year round.
Enemies of our health
Many of the diseases we describe above can be avoided by eating the right foods, avoiding the wrong foods, and of course by exercising regularly.
If you do live in a northern or mountain climate you can easily cut out the northern elements of your diet and perhaps choose a more Mediterranean style of eating in your centrally heated comfort!
Simple sugars are present in almost every form of manufactured food, from sweets to pizzas, and even cheaper processed meat, as well as beer, wine and other alcoholic drinks.
You just need fruit!
Do try to read the food labels that have to detail the sugar content of the processed food you're considering buying.
Cut out the fatty pork, cheaper sausages and reduce your meat intake wherever possible to reduce your saturated fat intake.
Though white bread flour and processed durum wheat flour in pasta are complex sugars (and therefore better then simple sugars), you should consider brown pasta, seeded brown bread, and brown rice where possible for their fibre content as this can help prevent things like bowel cancer and Crohn's disease.
Have you considered a breakfast of bran and oatmeal porridge?
Effects of unhealthy eating habits
Now we all live in warm temperatures, and there is hardly ever scarcity of food in Europe and Western countries, there are high risks associated with putting on too much weight
does all sorts of things to your body. It lays you open to diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and even cancer.
Type 2 Diabetes comes from consuming too much sugar and not living an active enough lifestyle. There has been an explosion of Type 2 diabetes cases Western countries in recent years. I have been told by a doctor that she would prefer to get HIV than diabetes as recovering from diabetes and the lifestyle constraints are far greater than modern drug controlled HIV.
Too much fat can lead to clogged, hardened arteries, and that fat can also surround the heart, making it have to work much harder to keep you alive. Hearts can fail in different ways, from the acute heart-attack to long slow declines as less of the muscle can operate.
such as Crohn's disease are also caused by poor diets and poor lifestyle choices. These are incurable and can force you onto diets that lack flavour as well as forcing you into a very healthy lifestyle just to avoid the shits!
Many cancers can be prevented with a good lifestyle. In particular, bowel and oesophageal cancers are caused by too rich diets with not enough vegetables, pulses or unsaturated fats.
The concept of 'super foods' is a bit of a marketing wheeze to inflate the prices of certain foods.
There is some substance to the concept however, with many foods containing essential minerals and nutrients that encourage body to work better.
Olive Oil is one of the oldest super foods as it is high in unsaturated fat, which is very good for your blood vessels.
Read this interesting post from our blog:
Berries such as blackberries, blackcurrants, and plums certain micronutrients in high concentrations and that can help your body in all sorts of ways.
Really these should be your sole source of simple sugars.
According to the Telegraph UK newspaper, Green tea
is rich in catechin polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that inhibit the growth of cancer and protect externally against DNA damage induced by ultraviolet light. It also contains bioflavonoids, which protect us against infection.
Another Telegraph article suggested, scientists:
"Discovered that, despite being low in calories, eggs are a rich source of protein and are packed with essential nutrients thought vital to good health, particularly vitamin D, vitamin B12, selenium and choline. The report also confirms that among protein foods, eggs contain the richest mix of essential amino acids - crucial for children, adolescents and young adults since a balance of amino acids is required for proper growth and repair. And the high levels of antioxidants found in eggs means they could even help prevent age-related macular degeneration an eye condition that is the leading cause of blindness in the UK.
Ranging from peanuts to broad beans and everything between, according to the Self blog:
They are one of the best and cheapest sources of protein in the plant kingdom, making them a near-obvious choice for vegetarians and vegans looking for said fuel. Plus, they are packed with nutrients inculding iron, phosphorus and folate, all which contribute to healthy blood. Oh, and they're high in fiber, too.
According to superfood-world.com, can ward off chest and cold infections. The blog continued:
As well as being spasmolytic, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral, it’s loaded with essentials vitamins and nutrients that can help keep you feeling your best.
You can use Avocado flesh instead of butter on your toast in the morning and consume it in all sorts of ways.
According to the Be Well Health and Wellness blog:
The myriad of healthy fats and nutrients found in avocados – oleic acid, lutein, folate, vitamin E, monounsaturated fats and glutathione among them – can help protect your body from heart disease, cancer, degenerative eye and brain diseases.
Curcumin is a great tasting spice that has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Considering so many of the illnesses of the West involve some sort of inflammation, this is a great spice to include in your weekly food intake.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and Seeds can replace meat in your diet due to their high protein levels and high unsaturated fat content.
Mushrooms are another high-protein foodstuff, and can also be used to replace meat in your diet.
High in fibre, dried figs are said to be better for you than fresh ones. There is some cancer research that suggests that certain nutrients found in these can destroy cancer cells.
Yogurt a high unsaturated fat, high-protein foodstuff that Greeks love!
Garlic doesn't just ward off a potential lover or a vampire but can chase away illnesses such as colds, flu and other viruses.
Tips of healthy living
While in a busy lifestyle people sometimes skip breakfast in the misconceived idea that it cuts down on your food intake for the day, eating a good breakfast can help you lose weight by giving the body of the food it needs to function in the morning.
It does not therefore have to store fat from dinner the night before to fuel you that morning.
The Mediterranean diet
This diet involves lots of fibre, complex sugars, just the right protein intake, and low levels or saturated fats.
It is easier to burn off than a northern European diet.
See this also:
Don’t smoke or drink! Instead choose fruit juices and do consume water as opposed to soft drinks when you're thirsty.
Can be found in fish and certain seeds are very good for your nervous system and brain. Research has shown that it is better to consume it as part of food as opposed to from health supplements. The Mediterranean diet is rich in Omega-3.
Where possible opt for the salad option for a meal and instead of sweets choose fruit.
Returning to the burning off more than you consume idea, smaller portions are often better for you.
Have you tried eating from smaller plates?
You should get lots of exercise every day. Look at this another way - more you exercise the more you can eat!
Check-Ups are Important
Do you get to the doctors at least once a year to make sure you are heading in the right direction.
The Ikaria Paradigm
In Greece we have a small island called Ikaria. The people who live there have some of the healthiest older age in the world.
The average age on the islands are 79.8 years old and many islanders live well into their hundreds. What do they do to achieve this? Pretty much everything we have discussed in this long form blog.
Read more about Ikaria, here:
Perhaps on your next yacht charter in Greece you should visit them and explore the lifestyle they lead. Taking home those ideas and ethos could be the best souvenir you ever bring back!