Living a healthy lifestyle
As a physio and someone who has played a lot of sport over the years, healthy eating and healthy lifestyle have always been important to me. I have always been very active and have a naturally high metabolism, so for most of my life I have got away with eating large amounts whilst maintaining a low BMI. Being naturally anxious as well means I burn a lot of calories with nervous energy. I have never been able to understand those people who skip breakfast/lunch as I would struggle to stand up if I did! Whilst my health conscious physio colleagues eat lettuce leaves I have always relied on a high carb diet to get me through a busy caseload of patients each day and maintain high activity levels. I have a particularly bad habit from my hockey playing days of eating a bowl of cereal at 10pm before bed!
About 10 years ago I was diagnosed with IBS, a condition often closely linked with anxiety. With some trial and error I realised that certain foods would aggravate my symptoms such as caffeine, white flour, garlic and certain preservatives. So, I started to tweak my diet and mainly switched to wholemeal, decaf/very little caffeine and avoided any of those work buffet foods like sausage rolls, Doritos, mini sausages. This seemed to work and I can highly recommend this.
I’ve never had a sweet tooth and have always been quite disciplined with food but three small boys later I found bad habits starting to creep in and it would seem a 3rd time ‘Mum Tum’ is harder to shift; especially with the added physical exhaustion and sleep deprivation. Again, many would say I am still slim for the average Mum but chatting with my patient the other day I realised some of those bad habits needed to change.
The curse of the late night munchies
My patient was recently diagnosed with diabetes even after losing a large amount of weight (see blog link here). My Dad was also recently diagnosed as pre diabetic and so we have all been talking a lot more about ‘what actually is healthy eating? And diet controlled sugar levels.’ I’ve often looked at people who are overweight and thought ‘but I don’t see them eating anything, what are they doing wrong?’ Some of them are even very active in their lifestyles but still struggle with their weight. So, how can we be healthier? What is it that we are doing wrong? What are the subtle bad habits?
Talking to her has made me realise that we can have the right intentions and make tracks towards improving but still making some huge errors. I remember a friend saying to me I’ve given up chocolate but I just eat a whole pack of ham instead! I was horrified! But, she genuinely didn’t know that this was unhealthy too. In her blog she talks about how her habits changed but there was still obviously poor understanding of what a healthy diet was. In order to lose weight she decided to eat very little but in doing so her daily foods were still – coffee, pastries, pasta, biscuits, fruit juice and some vegetables until her family pointed out that the majority of the foods she was eating were largely sugars. She also talks about ‘the curse of the late night munchies’ and how many people will eat and drink a lot late at night which she believes is the main factor in weight gain. So it was a massive eye opener to me to realise that our understanding of healthy eating as patients and clinicians is still poor and there is still a huge amount of denial that what we put into our mouths really makes a difference.
So her top tips are: Don’t put any food in your mouth after 8pm till the next morning, cut out the pastries, and fruit juice, lower your carbs intake, if hungry before bed drink milk, and plenty of veg.
We carried on this conversation at work and compared our diet to Andreas’ healthy Cypriot/Footballers diet. His top tips were, less meat, more fish, drink water, choose vegetable pizza not meat pizza, cut out convenience food etc. None of us really drink but we all agreed that alcohol consumption plays a huge part in weight management. So at DPT we will be trying these techniques in the weeks ahead to see if they can help us maintain and sustain a healthy lifestyle. We will keep you posted!
Specialist Physiotherapy Lead