We are a nation in denial about the recipe for health and weight management. I am constantly shocked by what people eat and drink, from trolleys in the supermarket to coffee shop orders, restaurant diners and function offerings. We think we’re doing well but the numbers are shocking.  Very few of us have even got the basics right, believing we know them and jumping on to the bandwagon of eternal dieters. And so we’re heading, at the rate of knots to be the most obese country in the EU, supposedly by 2030, but likely well before the predicted date.

I don’t think I’m better than anyone else, but being immersed in the world of nutrition and psychology makes you acutely aware of our shortcomings. I’ve had the privilege of being in the environment to learn and understand what can be a daunting subject, but we owe it to ourselves and the next generation to get it right.

It’s not as complex as people believe it to be, but going hell for leather on a diet is the perfect way to end up making it complicated. Dieting is a temporary solution to a permanent problem.

Some of the most intelligent, capable, driven individuals fall into the trap of nutrition self-destruct mode. The problem is that they think they know enough, instead of actually finding out the facts. What use are PHD’s and top jobs if you’re slowly killing yourself? It’s not the years in your life but the life in your years. People are going around like a ticking time bomb, too busy to look after themselves. There are two subjects missing in schools today, psychology/life skills and nutrition. We’re going about in a false sense of security, you only have to look around at how big we are to confirm this.

I don’t want to offend anyone, but we’re past worrying about hurting feelings. We need to wake up, smell the coffee and get off our lazy asses now! Our affluence has been the ruination of our health. We can’t buy it, neither can we buy happiness. We can buy medication, we’re good at that, but if using medication for a weight related problem, you can be sure it’s the road to more problems.

Don’t wait until something goes wrong, then kill yourself trying to lose the pounds. Killing yourself for weight loss – no! Instead, kill bad habits dead in the water now. Here are my list of 5 habits that need to die if you want a better future.

1. IRRATIONAL THINKING: We alleviate our own guilt by comparing ourselves to those who live poor lifestyles but seem to be fine, or have lived a long life despite a poor diet, or heavy drinking or smoking. Stop it now, this is absolute nonsense.

For every centenarian who smokes heavily, there’s another thousand poor souls who’ve died prematurely following horrific suffering from tobacco related illnesses. The heavy drinker who seems fine in old age is the exception, not the rule. Diabetes is not far away from many of our doorsteps, and the idea of that should not be taken with a pinch of salt.

2. ALCOHOL: The Department of Health advises us to limit our use of alcohol, bearing in mind its effect on our bodies and minds. Low risk weekly guidelines are 11 units for women and 17 for men. In Ireland, 4 out of 5 adults drink alcohol, and if these are low risk guidelines, I wonder how many actually adhere to these numbers.

Alcohol is a massive deterrent for weight loss, not to mention the damage it can do to the heart, liver and stomach.  Forget so called guidelines, they are too high and easy to exceed. Alcohol is dangerous and one habit that I believe needs to be kicked to the kerb for weight loss and super health.

An occasional drink is the most anyone should have, saved for special occasions and taken with caution. You’ll think I’m being over dramatic but it’s the greatest saboteur of healthy eating and the greatest killer of Motivation for anything.

3. DAYS OFF: This is a great one for a Sunday night, the intention of good week days and relaxing at the weekends. This philosophy usually results in being heavier and unhealthier than when you started. That’s because Monday to Friday never go exactly to plan, and changes to a lifestyle have to be made to keep.

An ad hoc attitude just doesn’t work, as cheat days go against all the health ideals you’re buying into. Making change means you need to commit to a health oriented regime, weight loss merely as a side effect. WEIGHT LOSS FOCUSED HABITS DON’T TEND TO STICK AROUND. Seven days a week is what you aim for to stay healthy, you want the benefits 100% of the time. Kill the cheat day thinking, even the name tells you it isn’t right.

4. LAZINESS: Only by doing what we’re designed to do, does the reality of physical exercise make sense. So many of us are pleased with our efforts, but in comparison to the recommended 30 minutes daily, we’re falling well short of the mark.

A stroll in the park a couple of times a week will do little for mind or body, even if we think it does. Fitness encompasses many components including flexibility, speed, balance, cardio-respiratory endurance and muscular strength, power and endurance. These may be difficult to measure, but moving a minimum of 2.5 hours per week for general health, not weight loss, is a decent place to start.

5. ARROGANCE/IGNORANCE: Pretending to know is the way to nowhere because a guessing game doesn’t yield results. Only scientifically proven nutritionally sound facts should be adhered to in a quest to keep you and your household well. You owe it to yourself and those you’re responsible for to bring the right food into your home.

For weight loss, it’s not enough to eat less, you must respect your body’s nutritional needs or pay the price. Kill the quick fix of convenience, processed offerings, low fat can offer little in terms of satiety, and you’re likely to suffer from cravings. Don’t let confusion put you off, educate yourself, find out the facts and keep it simple. Kill old ideas unless you know they’re authentic and worth sticking to.

Add in simple habits one by one, and seek advice from a reputable professional if you’re unsure about the best way forward. Killing yourself for weight loss is not the option.

Blog Post by Claire Jackson