Step 1. Eat healthily, think healthily 

Trying to follow a healthy lifestyle, we always begin to wonder what this “healthy lifestyle” actually looks like. From the very beginning, when we decide that we should start to eat healthy foods, do physical activity, or quit bad habits at this point several questions are raised: “Where do I start?”, “What do I eat?”, “In what amount?”, “How many meals per day?”. These issues are meaningful to your weight loss journey.

You definitely can find answers to these questions on the internet, but it is very unlikely the advice is going to be tailored specifically and properly for you, nor would you have any insurance that the information is true. This article has been made with a purpose to help you. Here you will learn how to eat healthily and think healthy.

Why eat healthily?

Research shows that maintaining a healthy weight:

  1. Improves your energy level Eating healthier foods will cardinally enhance your energy level. This occurs because you’re eating foods richer in the B vitamins and vitamin D. These vitamins play an important role in increasing your energy.
  2. Reduces the risk of diseases – Obesity and a history of less healthy eating habits are two major risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes. Enhancing your intake of nutritious foods and losing excess weight (if you’re overweight) may help reduce your risk of having type 2 diabetes in the future.
  3. Helps you lose weight – Following a healthy diet that includes lots of fresh, nutrient-dense fruits and veggies, high-fiber whole grains and legumes, and lean protein sources will help you lose weight. 
  4. It lengthens your life the 2014 Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health Study found that people who eat seven or more daily servings of fruit and vegetables are 42 percentile to keel over on any given day compared to people who eat little to no produce”.
  5. Role modeling You cannot expect your kids to eat broccoli if you don’t eat anything healthy yourself. Setting a good example for your child when it comes to healthy foods shows them that you value good nutrition and lets them see what healthy eating looks like.
  6. Boost your brain function – having optimal insulin and blood sugar levels will enhance your brain function and reduce the incidence of the mid-day crash.

How to think healthy?

A huge number of professionals agree that the mind has a solid effect on a person’s sense of wellbeing.

Studies have shown that people who think optimistically have a strong positive effect on their health, and it is also not a surprise for anyone that people can think themselves into being ill. This is simply the power of the mind. And having accepted all the tips on how to change your way of thinking you can take another step into your healthy future.

Here are a few things that you might find it difficult to accept but it is necessary to do to continue going further:

  1. Trying to make a change, the first thing that must be borne in mind is that sometimes you will be forced to give up the things you have been doing till now. And this is going to be the first challenge to accept. For example, you will need to stop eating late at night. It Is a well-known fact that you can experience indigestion or bad sleep if you eat or drink too close to bedtime. 
  2. Eating healthy is never boring. That is why we say that variety is the key to your successful eating pattern change. A healthy diet must be well-balanced. It should contain a diversity of fruits, vegetables, milk and dairy products, meat, fish, bread, potatoes, pasta, and other starchy food products. With one-third of the world population now being overweight or obese, it is obvious that we have not been well-informed enough about how and what we should eat to stay healthy
  3. Set your goals correctly. Never jump into things too quickly. Choose your goal, decide the way it can be achieved, and then go for it step by step. No need to hurry. 
  4. You will need to change your eating pattern too. For example, instead of eating a lot once a day, you may need to eat less and regularly( i.e. small portions 4xday)
  5. To make a great change in a short period is possible. Just do not forget to do exercises regularly. In the beginning, you are not allowed to go too hard on yourself. Trying to move more than you are used to – can also make a huge difference.

The key to losing weight is to take in less energy and burn more energy. We get this energy while eating, and we burn energy while we are doing any type of physical activity. Think about your body weight as a balance of energy in and energy out

  • If you burn the same number of calories as you consume, you can assume your weight will remain relatively constant
  • If you take in more calories than you burn, then you will gain weight
  • If you burn more calories than you take in, then you will lose weight

Therefore, if you intend to lose weight you have to tip the balance by consuming a smaller amount of calories. You also can easily burn more calories by being more physically active.

Remember our main rule – there’s no need to hurry. For people who suffer from obesity, or who are overweight, it is better to change their lifestyle step by step. A well-known Chinese proverb says: “ a journey of thousands begins with a single step”.

Step 2. Learn how to set goals

Changes are never easy but once they are made you won’t regret them.

What is a goal? It is the desired result that a person envisions, plans, and commits to achieve  – we see something – we want it – we do something to get it – we have it. Mostly, people do not set goals the way they should. Setting them incorrectly affects your results. Here’s why many peoples’ wishes are not being realized. There are several patterns and tips on how to achieve any goal fastly and successfully but unfortunately, not everyone has enough courage or probably patience to go through hurdles. In this article, you’ll explore what a smart goal is, and we’ll look at how you can use it to achieve your objectives.

What are smart goals?

If you intend to reach a personal and meaningful health and wellness goal you will have to make necessary changes. There will be changes that you’re going to be reluctant to make and even adopt, but they will be necessary. Of course, these changes are going to vary from person to person and goal to goal, but no goal can be achieved by doing the same thing you’re already doing.

A smart goal is established by using a particular set of criteria that guarantees your objectives are achievable within a certain time frame. A SMART goal is S – specific, M – measurable, A – achievable, R – Reluctant, T – Time- bounding. The smart framework’s elements work together to generate a goal that is well-planned, clear, and measurable. Here are guidelines to keep in mind when choosing goals.

  1. Specific

You need to understand what you want and in what way you can achieve it. If your goal is to lose excess weight, never set a goal, like: “I am going to lose weight in a year”. Be more specific. For example,” in a week I am going to lose 1.5 kilograms. Ways: “I will be strictly following the diet prescribed by my nutritionist and also I will be doing exercises 3 times a week from now on”.
Questions: – What? – Where? – When? – How?

  1. Measurable
    Measure your success. We advise you to put a number to the goal you are chasing, so you can check your success. A measurable goal should address questions, such as:
    – How much?
    – How many?
    – How will I know when it is accomplished?

    For example: “I will buy a pedometer, and will increase my steps from 1000 per day up to 3000 within two weeks.

    3. Achievable
    When you set an achievable goal, you may be able to identify previously overlooked opportunities or resources that can bring you closer to it. Be realistic. Aim to make gradual changes. You cannot set a goal, such as ” I will lose 10 kilos in 2 weeks”. You don’t need to hurry. Admit what you can do and what you can’t. For example: “ I will be going for a morning jog for 20 minutes every morning during the next 2 weeks and increase this time to 35 till next month” Remember –  one step at a time.
    Smart framework question: How can I accomplish this goal?

    4. Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based)
    This step is about ensuring that your goal matters to you and that it also aligns with other relevant goals. Consider why the goal is important to you, how attaining it will benefit you, and how it will help you achieve your long-term objectives.“I will be going to work on foot every morning instead of taking the bus.”
    Question: – How does this fit into your life now?
    5. Time-bound
    A smart goal must be time-bound in that it has a start and finish date. If the goal is not time-constrained, there will be no sense of urgency and, therefore, less motivation to achieve the goal. A time-bound goal will usually answer these questions:
    – When?
    – What can I do three months from now?
    – What can I do three weeks from now?
    Here is an example: I will aim to be comfortable walking a dog from 30 to 50 minutes in the morning every day.

We also advise you to reward yourself in tiny but meaningful ways when you reach your goals. Nothing significant but it will also make you happier in addition to your successful steps taken. Choose a reward that does not contaradict your goal- you wouldn’t celebrate being sober for one year by getting drunk- don’t celebrate being healthy by doing somethin unhealthy.

Step 3. Quit your bad habits

People always say that we live only once and we need to try anything possible in life before we die. However, it doesn’t mean you need to keep old bad habits and gain new ones. Smoking won’t make you happy, alcohol either. What can make you happy then? 

There are a lot of different things out there that can make your life amusing – you can go to China and Walk the Great Wall, you can explore the Ancient Ruins of Petra in Jordan, you can become the best nutritionist and help other obese or overweight people lose weight – there’s no place for bad habits.

Talking about smoking, it must be said that it isn’t directly linked to obesity or being overweight. It has a great impact on your overall health and that is why the most essential part of it is to understand why you have this habit. Behind each of them, there’s a reason you’re doing it. There may be even worse habits we don’t pay attention to, and that makes us go with the wrong choices.

Why should I quit my bad habits?

When you smoke, nicotine is distilled from burning tobacco and small droplets of tar containing nicotine are inhaled and deposited in the lungs. Nicotine can be absorbed quickly or slowly depending on the route of administration and how the drug is formulated. Smokers think that it helps them to relieve stress and anxiety. 

But the reality is it increases anxiety and tension by causing increased adrenaline and cortisol production in your body. Studies show that people who smoke cigarettes are more likely to develop depression over time. By quitting smoking you can:

  • Reduce your blood pressure
  • Lower your risk of stroke and coronary heart disease
  • Reduce your risk of respiratory and anesthesia complications during surgery and risk of infection or readmission after an operation(Smokers are at higher risk of developing surgical-related complications compared to non-smokers. This is the reason why people who smoke are advised to quit smoking weeks before most scheduled surgeries.)
  • Reduce your chances of developing lung cancer
  • Improve your personal life (smoking causes erectile dysfunction and overall sexual dysfunction)

Same situation with alcohol. Even worse, because when you drink alcohol, you are gaining weight, and here is the explanation why – alcoholic drinks can be very calorie-rich. Therefore, your body processes and stores alcohol as sugar, which eventually converts to fat.

Why is it so hard to quit smoking?

It is a well-known fact that nicotine is as addictive as cocaine or heroin. It causes chemical changes in the brain. Using nicotine-containing products, including smoking cigarettes or vaping, causes the release of a chemical in the brain called dopamine. Dopamine trains people to act a certain way by reinforcing certain behaviors. It does this by rewarding a person with a pleasurable sensation.

How do I quit smoking?

When you’ve decided that you are ready to do it, there’s one more thing you need to digest –  it is the first step in your battle. Your healthcare team is here to help you. We have put together some effective ways for you to stop smoking:

  1. Prepare for quit day
    The first thing you need to do is to choose a date that is not too far in the future (so that you do not change your mind).
  2. Tell all your relatives about your decision
    Your friends and family will surely support you. They may also abstain from smoking near you, which will make your quitting easier and will make them smoke less.
  3. Think a step ahead
    You should accept the fact that it is going to be a long way to success. And you know yourself better than anyone else, so you can anticipate what can happen in the near future, where you may give slack.
  4. Get rid of all the cigarettes and things that contain nicotine.
    There should not be any emergency packs in your pocket. Be sure you threw everything like lighters and matches away, so it won’t remind you of cigarettes.
  5. If you have a health problem – go to see a doctor, here is the same situation. Do not be ashamed to ask for advice from your doctor. This is normal to ask for help when you cannot manage it by yourself.
  6. Never use things that can just replace cigarettes.
    Remember – E-cigarettes are not the best choice. We advise you to eat fresh vegetables, such as carrots and cucumber sticks. It can help replace the oral habit of smoking.
  7. Keep a trigger journal
    When a strong craving hits, it can be easy to lose sight of the benefits of quitting. You might lose your focus, but there is no good reason to smoke. Log every trigger that caused you to crave nicotine. This may help you eliminate some of them, thus making quitting even easier.

Remember, you do not need to go too hard on yourself, before setting a certain date, take a notebook, a pen and write down all the reasons you are doing this for. Also, think of the positive aspects that you’ll receive after quitting smoking. For example: aside from the fact that your body and overall health say “Thank you” afterward, you can also think of the idea of how much money you can save.

Step 4. Do more physical activities

In addition to your diet, it would be much more effective if you were more physically active. It can not only help you to lose weight faster but it will make you feel better overall. According to research done by John J. Ratey, professor of psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School, physical activity has a very positive effect on our mood, vitality, speed of reaction, and well-being.

Why is it important to be physically active?

Everyone knows that physical activity is vital for us to stay healthy and energetic. If you want to look good and not to be just slim but have an athletic body, you need to work out at least 3 days a week.

People who suffer from obesity cannot go too hard on themselves in the very beginning, and it can be dense for them, so it is better to start with something easy: climbing the stairs, doing some exercises in a sitting position, going for a walk more often, you can even try those computer games, which suggest you do certain activities, using a bicycle instead of going to work by car, etc.

Being active in combination with your diet will make a huge change in a short time. Besides, here are some positive effects:

  1. You will feel more energized
  2. You will increase lean body mass
  3. It will improve your flexibility
  4. It will speed up recovery from injury or surgery
  5. It will decrease the risk of illness
  6. You will be able to withstand stress
  7. You will burn more calories at rest
  8. It will increase your self-confidence
  9. It will maintain your weight loss
  10. You also can lower the risk of early death, coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or triglycerides.

Where do I start?

Regularity is better than interval – and this must be borne in mind

Frequently, insecure people underestimate themselves and their goals. Especially, when they try to reach their first step to a new life. Despite, the problem here surely has something to do with psychology, we will shed light on it as well later. Trying to change themselves, people need to make sure that the things they are doing to reach their goals are relevant to them. In addition, they need to change their attitude towards this. They simply need to make it important and valuable. Some people say that they are not in a big sport, and if they miss one day of training, it won’t affect them much. This does not work like this. Even if your steps seem slow and weightless, they are still as important as ever. Small steps are better than speed – keep that in mind.

Returning to our physical activities, as already mentioned, an obese person should start by changing the mindset first. Once it’s changed, the first thing to do is simply move more often than they are used to, and this will be the first challenge. 

Also, it would be better to ask for a hand from your healthcare team. Because there’s nothing better than to be advised by a professional. But still, the beginning should not be exhausting. For instance, when you are on the phone – stand up and walk around, when you have a day off – arrange a cleaning day. These simple steps are the most important ones because beginning with wrong or unhealthy advice will result in a bigger problem.

Things to keep in mind before doing any type of physical activity

  1. The first and really important thing before you start doing anything is stretching.
    Stretching is the important link between the sedentary life and the active life. Here we can name several reasons for its importance. You must stretch before exercise because it:
  •  Promotes circulation
  •  Helps coordination by allowing freer and easier movement.
  •  Prevents injuries such as muscle strains
  •  Reduces muscle tension and makes the body feel relaxed
  1. Wear comfortable clothes

Doing regular exercise is important but what you wear while doing it is equally important. You should have comfortable clothes and shoes to do proper exercises. You can do proper physical exercises if you are comfortable only.

  • Take your time

There’s no need to hurry. The direction is much more important than speed. Whatever you are doing – do it gradually and regularly.

  • Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated while exercising is important because of the added sweat loss

  • Don’t overdo it

If you do not feel well then there’s nothing bad about having a break. If you do this regularly then it won’t harm to have some rest one time.

While you are doing exercises, you don’t need to pound the alarm when:

  1. You are getting sweaty
  2. You feel your muscles work
  3. Your heart beats a little faster than usual
  4. You are breathing more deeply than usual
  5. You’ll probably feel sore afterward, and it is completely normal (When you work your muscles, you create little tears in your muscle fibers, and it’s the rebuilding process that makes them stronger)

Limited mobility doesn’t mean you cannot exercise

Do not let disability, injury, illness, or weight problems get in the way. One thing to keep in mind – do not try to exercise without having any assistance. Be very careful and ask your healthcare team for help.

There are a lot of different strategies on how a person with physical disabilities or mobility problems may still exercise. For example, you can have your strains taken off your joints by exercising in water. Choose a specialist and a place carefully, because there’s nothing more important than your health.

Step 5. Eat the right food

People who suffer from excess weight must follow the diet strictly and there’s no other option to achieving the desired results. The most important change an obese person can make at the first stage is to change the amount of food ingested.

Here you will find all the necessary information about the food groups, you will also learn what a balanced diet looks like, and how you can replace your favorite unhealthy snacks with healthy ones.

What do we consider as healthy foods?

When you hear that you need to ingest much smaller amounts of calories, you begin to think that you must count those calories endlessly. We can assure you that it does not work like that.

Healthy eating with a purpose to lose weight means achieving a balance. You don’t need to starve yourself. On but the opposite, you need to control the portions of food you consume at a time. At first, you will need to get used to such an eating pattern, to be honest, it won’t take long. In a week or two, you will be cooking your food, serving it in the correct portions without even measuring it a hundred times.

How can you achieve this balance? First things first, you have to give up thinking of foods as calories. Just think of food as healthy and unhealthy food groups. It will be much easier for you to gain the new habit, let’s name it “food amount controlling”. Besides, no one says that you should get rid of your acquired eating habits immediately, it is not going to work. We advise you to do it gradually. And also, your diet must contain the foods you enjoy. And that’s why we will be replacing all your delicious and unhealthy foods with healthy ones step by step. And here, at the first stage, you do not need to say “no” to everything completely. Try to make the portions of unhealthy foods smaller. And with time you will forget about them at all.

Nevertheless, let’s not forget that any diet begins with a whole-body diagnosis. After this, you will be prescribed a diet you need to follow. It is also possible that you will be told to take some medicine or make an appointment with a clinic where bariatric surgery can be performed. For example, here at KCM Clinic we have three incredible highly- experienced bariatric surgeons:

  • Grzegorz Kowalski, MD, Ph.D., General Surgery Specialist, Oncological Surgery Specialist, Bariatrician
  • Prof. UJ Dr hab. med. Piotr Major is an outstanding specialist in the field of bariatrics, laparoscopic and general surgery
  • Dr. n. med. Artur Raiter, our newest bariatric surgeon, who is a specialist in general surgery and gastroenterology, is one of only a few surgeons in Europe that performs endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty – the most innovative and least invasive method of curing obesity

Here you will get acquainted with the food groups you should consume more/less/never:

Eat more:

  • Fruits and Vegetables: Fruits and vegetables help you maintain good health. Because they’re low in saturated fat, salt, and sugar. Fruits and vegetables are part of a well-balanced diet that can help you lose weight or prevent weight gain. Plus, they can help you decrease inflammation, and lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
  • Carbohydrate Food – Foods rich in carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the body because they degrade rapidly. Some examples are bread, cereals, rice, and pasta; however, when consumed in excess they are transformed and stored as fat in the body. It is important not to abuse the intake of this type of food. It is recommended to eat on average 200 to 300 grams of carbohydrates per day, an amount that varies according to weight, age, sex, and physical activity performed by the person.

Eat less:

  • Dairy and Milk Products: It’s better to choose lower-fat types of dairy products. After studying data from 827 men and women, Iranian researchers concluded that those who consumed the most dairy (milk, yogurt, and cheese) were less likely to have enlarged waists and metabolic syndrome, a group of symptoms that has been shown to increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
  • Fat-rich meats. It is much healthier to choose lower-fat options. In general, red meats (beef, pork, and lamb) have more cholesterol and saturated (bad) fat than chicken, fish, and vegetable proteins such as beans. Cholesterol and saturated fat can raise your blood cholesterol and make heart disease worse. Chicken and fish have less saturated fat than most red meat.

Try not to consume: 

  • Foods high in fat, sugar, or salt.

Food and drinks high in fat, salt, and sugar have lots of energy in them which can be bad for our waistline and teeth, and can cause many other health problems like becoming overweight, obesity, high blood pressure, and tooth decay amongst others.

Step 6. Stay persistent

Once you decide to change your life – go for it and never give up. When you are setting your goals, it means that you are a hundred percent ready to face your biggest enemy – excess weight. Our advice to you – make your changes with pleasure.

No one can force you to eat food you can barely stand. If you are not a fan of cucumbers, you can simply replace them with zucchini. You think that average push-ups are too hard for you, replace them with an easier variant. There’s nothing to worry about. A healthy lifestyle means a happy and long-lasting life. It is not boring, nor difficult. All these delusions should be taken out of your head. 

Here are two things to keep in mind:

  1. Never give up. Nothing is perfect the first time. There is nothing that was created or done by man that was perfect the first time.
  2. Whatever you do – make it regular.

Studies show that people who follow a diet and do exercises daily, in addition to quitting bad habits, are more likely to succeed in the question of weight loss than those who prefer doing something at intervals.

Beginnings are never easy and when you begin doing something for the first time no matter what it is – dog walking, tooth brushing, or morning jog – make it regular. If your job requires you to sit the whole day at the computer, try to move more. Pass something to someone, when there is a need, help someone when necessary. Everything should work to your advantage.

Regularity as a fundamental part of building your health

Changing the style you live is not the easiest thing to do, because all the habits you own right now have been acquired over the years. This is why it is impossible to completely change your lifestyle overnight. This article has been written for people who suffer from obesity or who are overweight, and they must go through this information before making any change in their life. It is better to accept all the things that can happen shortly in advance and prevent the possible complications after choosing bad advice. Trying to give up the usual things at once can also harm your health. You will experience stress every second of your existence, and it won’t take you long to stop even thinking about a healthy lifestyle. We say to you to stay patient for a reason. The simple “Step by Step” rule will have a much greater positive effect than if you decide to change everything at once.

When you do even a little bit daily it makes your body get used to something new.  And this process cannot be rushed. There’s also a new rule for you to strictly follow, you need to learn how not to cheat on your diet and exercises. No one says it is going to be easy, but you need to go through it to achieve your desired goal. 

We also understand that you probably struggle to maintain the changes, so here are key tips for you:

  • Sometimes the problem of losing patience here can be that you are getting bored of eating the same foods every day. Since the diet is one of the most important stages of losing weight, we advise you to diversify your diet. There are thousands of different recipes out there. And what’s more, you can find many recipes that will not only diversify your diet but also replace your favorite unhealthy foods. And you won’t regret it.
  • Calorie counting isn’t the most amusing thing to do. So, the best way to figure out how much you should be consuming is to think about foods in food groups
  • Stop thinking of the words „diet” and “healthy lifestyle” as something that limits your abilities. But instead, it makes your life more fascinating and diversified.
  • Meet a group of people with the same way of thinking. It is going to bring you new friends, who will be supporting you and your decisions. In this way, it will be much easier to get used to a healthy lifestyle. Even special occasions won’t make you think of quitting. It is hard to deny things you like when no one supports your endeavors. Here are some tips: try to offer something from your list of healthy dishes while you decide to meet your friends. If you go to a restaurant, ask a waiter whether they can offer you a menu with healthy meals, or for something that is not that high in calories. Nowadays many restaurants may offer you a menu containing healthy dishes only. Also, never try to make your surroundings do the same things as you do, this is only your choice to live a long and happy life, not theirs
  • Keep your dairy updated and stick to the plan.
  • Find activities that will make you move more: if you love singing then you need to give a karaoke workout a try.

Sometimes you may notice that the process of losing weight is slowing down. It may stop at times, or weight may even increase slightly. When we are leading an active lifestyle, following a diet, doing our daily things  – our body begins to get used to it.

We call this a weight loss plateau. This term usually refers to the stage when people who follow a weight-loss plan lose very little or no weight at all for a few weeks in a row. The main thing here is to understand that weight-loss plateaus are a normal part of the journey—and that it’s possible to get past them. When you are getting to this stage, you need to understand that you have already achieved a huge change, and now you can take one more step. One huge step. gluten-free and that means you can do a little more than you have done so far.

People can become frustrated when they hit a weight loss plateau, which can sometimes lead to them abandoning their weight loss plan. Never give up and stay positive because it is completely normal for people who suffer from obesity.

We can give you some advice:

    • Try to reduce your stress.
      Do some yoga, try to meditate, or simply spend more time with your friends and family.
    • Eat more fiber
      Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are all rich in fiber and may be helpful for people who have reached a weight loss plateau
  • Get a good sleep
    People who slept for less than 6 hours a night had smaller changes in waist circumference compared with people who slept for 7–9 hours.
  • Keep making notes in your dairy
    This is the best way to understand where the problem is. You also can show it to your doctor for him to decide what to do next.

Step 7. Create a grocery list

Once you are on a diet, you need to spend some time creating a plan on what you will be cooking and what it should consist of. It would be better if you made a shopping list. It is easy to keep something written, so you won’t forget it easily. Plus, you need to remember which foods should be consumed more and which less.

Make it a habit to keep your food diary

What should I aim for?

  • Buy more

Fruits and vegetables. Aim to eat 3-5 portions of different fruits and vegetables each day. Eat more starchy foods.

  • Buy some

Dairy products. Unsweetened calcium-fortified dairy alternatives like soy milk, yogurts, and cheeses also count as part of this food group. These can make good alternatives to dairy products.

  • Foods to Avoid When Trying to Lose Weight

Sweetened drinks, refined flour, processed foods, chocolates and candies, alcohol, breakfast cereals, junk foods. In other words, try to avoid foods high in calories. In addition, these calories are empty, and therefore, by consuming them with food, we gain weight much faster, as we mentioned earlier.

As we’ve said hundreds of times, eating a healthy, balanced diet is no easy task. Such a diet should contain products such as leafy greens, nuts, wholegrain cereals, fish, meat, eggs, and rice. Fruits and vegetables, which contain important vitamins, minerals, and plant chemicals. This group includes vitamins A (beta-carotene), C and E, magnesium,  phosphorus, folic acid, and zinc. They also contain fiber.

Is it expensive to eat a healthy diet?

Anything can be expensive if it is bought mindlessly. Before attending the supermarket, decide what you will be eating every day during the following week. Once the plan is made up, you can see a fuller picture of what ingredients you need for your dishes to be cooked. You simply need to plan your meals ahead of time and comparison shop if you want to manage your grocery budget more effectively. 

Besides, people mostly believe that “healthy” means “expensive”.That is not often the case. “Healthy” may often be confused with other labels that increase costs like gluten-free or organic. However, the key is to eat more whole foods and fewer processed ones.

Here are some tips for you on how to shop healthy on a budget:

  1.   When you make a shopping list, try to stick to it, and later when you are used to such a process, you will know in what amounts certain food is needed.
  2.   Never go to the supermarket when you are hungry. In this case, the possibility of wasting your money on something unimportant is higher, Besides, being hungry can make you feel less confident about the foods you need to eat and those you don’t. Therefore, if you are hungry just have a meal before you go shopping, so you won’t buy something like chocolate or crisps.
  3.   You always have a choice. There’s no need to look for expensive brands, choose economy ones. Who told you that if something is cheaper then it has much worse quality? Try to think differently. What if a brand exists only for a year? When it is new, it is always much cheaper than when it is well-known.
  4.   There’re many different discounts you can take advantage of. Some foods are way cheaper when bought in bulk amounts.

What do food labels say to us?

Do we know what food labels say to us? It is very unlikely that every second person on Earth knows all those abbreviations. Keep in mind that some of them can be dangerous for your health. You also better avoid artificial colors, sweeteners, sugar vegetable oils, fortified and enriched food products.

Nowadays, a huge number of different retailers and manufacturers provide us with color-coded nutritional signposting on the pack. These so-called „traffic light” colored labels can provide you with information on the amounts of total sugar, fat, saturated fat, and salt in food: 

High – red

Medium – amber

Low – green

Simply saying, it’s better to pick those food products which have more green lights on the pack. Try not to choose those foods with red lights on the front of pack labels (with saturated fat mostly). These are unhealthy foods that can only harm your body. The foods should be bought in really small amounts.

Choose carefully:

    • foods with mayonnaise as they can be high in fat
    • foods with high saturated fat 
  • semi-processed goods. For example, a sandwich the label of which says “no mayo” may contain more calories and fat than the one with mayonnaise. 
  • puddings. Lower fat puddings can still be high in sugar
  • be careful while choosing desserts, each dessert that can be bought in a store is often high in fat. That is why it is better and much safer to cook it by yourself.
  • fudge Yoghurts. They are often high in sugar. Better to choose the natural types and add in fresh fruits.
  • cashew nuts and raisins. Despite nuts containing healthy protein and fiber, they are still high in fat content. It is also better to consume them unsalted.  
  • sausages are mostly high in fat and saturated fat. That’s why we advise you to buy chicken breast with no skin instead.

Step 8. Keep a food diary

The key to successful food journaling, according to most experts, is exactness and consistency. So, what should you take notes on? The following items should be included in a basic food diary:

  • What are you consuming?
    Enter the specific food and drinks ingested and the way it is prepared (boiled, fried, boiled). Do not forget about sauces, toppings, and condiments.
  • In what amounts are you eating?
    Write down in household measures( tablespoons, teaspoons, etc) or grams. Weigh and measure your food if possible. If you are away from home, endeavor to do the best estimate of the food portion you intend to eat.
  • What is the time you are eating?
    It would also be helpful to note the time you are eating, aiming to identify potentially problematic times, for example, late-night snacking.

You might be wondering why you are being advised to keep a food diary. A food diary can become a great tool for you while being on a diet, because it may help you to:

  1. understand your eating habits and patterns
  2. identify the foods you eat regularly
  3. control the size of food portion and its amounts
  4. Identify your eating behavior
  5. control you while having a hard time eating less
  6. make yourself more positive about how much you have gone through already
  7. track the nutrition you are getting

As you can see, there are several positive effects of keeping such a diary. Here we will show you some key tips on how to keep it in a correct way and at the same time not to get bored from doing it.

Key tips

  1. Keep it simple. Do not make it a great time-consuming chore. Of course, if you are that passionate about the way the diary looks, with all perfect handwriting, and possibly pictures or even drawings – this is your choice. But there’s no need to waste your time on something unimportant. 
  2. Fill all the information in even if there’s nothing significant. It is crucial to pay attention to all the details while being on a diet especially for obese people. Things that seem weightless to you, can be meaningful to your healthcare team.
  3. Never put off something until tomorrow. Forget about the word “later”, enter everything into the diary right after your meal. Otherwise, you will probably let something go, so do it immediately.
  4. Never lie. Even if a specialist won’t notice something at first, he will find out about your lie later. Just imagine that you are filling your diary with greens only and after a week or two you do not see any difference while weighing. No one’s going to believe you that you were keeping your healthy diet. Be honest with yourself, because you are doing this for yourself only.
  5. When we say include everything you are consuming to the diary, then it also presupposes drinks and water itself. You should remember that drinks also have a great impact on your weight loss process.
  6. Stay positive and be proud of what you are doing. Even if you are not satisfied with something you’ve written. Just do not forget that this is just the beginning and soon you will see the desired results.
  7. Do not forget about the details. It is also important to describe the food you eat. If you eat fried eggs, then write down that it is fried. If you eat two slices of cheese, then say it. Record the number eaten. Do not generalize. Make a full picture of your eating pattern.
  8. Condiments should be filled into your diary as well. If we count water, then it won’t be a surprise for you that condiments are also counted. Different kinds of sauces, dressings, cream, and cheese have a huge impact as well.
  9. Have a look at food labels. It is really helpful to know how much of this or that substance a certain food product contains. And you can track calories as well.

Step 9. Learn about the main food groups

Here you will get acquainted with the food products that can make your diet healthy and delicious. The main food groups are:

  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Bread, potatoes, pasta, and other starchy food products
  • Dairy and milk foods
  • Fish, meat, beans, eggs, and other non-dairy sources of protein
  • Fats and sugar

Fruit and Vegetables

Remember that 1/3 of the food products you consume should be fruits and vegetables, at least 3-5 portions a day.

This group contains a huge number of different types of vitamins that are necessary for our well-being. There are also no rules in what way you are allowed to consume them. They can be fried, tinned, frozen, and, of course, fresh. Do not buy only one kind of fruit every time you go shopping, try new ones. Variety and color are key to a healthy diet. 

Try to get at least one serving from each of the following categories: dark green leafy vegetables; yellow or orange fruits and vegetables; red fruits and vegetables; legumes (beans) and peas; and citrus fruits. Also, endeavor to buy less processed foods. They can be counted, but it is better to avoid them due to high amounts of sugar, salt, or fat. 

Bread, potatoes, pasta, and other starchy food products

Starchy foods are our source of carbohydrates and have an important role in a healthy diet. Starchy foods, such as potatoes, rice, cereal, and pasta should make up over a third of the foods you eat. 

This food group is a great source of energy and the main source of a range of nutrients in the diet. As well as starch, they contain fiber, calcium, iron, and B vitamins.it is also important, which type of starchy foods you eat. You better avoid potatoes, white bread, pasta, or corn because these can be high in calories. In general, it is a really good idea to substitute white or refined starches for their whole-grain counterparts whenever possible. Substitute those above with whole grain pasta, russet, wholemeal bread, or brown rice.

Dairy and milk foods

2-3 servings of dairy products per day can be consumed.

Dairy and milk products are good sources of energy and protein. They contain a wide range of vitamins and minerals. They are also rich in calcium which growing children and young people need to build healthy bones and teeth.

There are several types of milk and dairy foods available in the dairy aisle of most grocery stores, which differ in their fat content. And much of the fat they contain is unhealthy saturated fat. Saturated fat increases your blood levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is known as “bad” cholesterol.

That is why scientists continue recommending the consumption of low-fat and fat-free dairy as part of a healthy eating pattern to reduce the risks of metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity

Fish, meat, beans, eggs, and other non-dairy sources of protein

Protein is an important element, it helps organs work the way they should. Meat, fish, eggs, beans, chicken, turkey, nuts are great sources of protein. They are packed with healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. People who do not consume dairy and milk products may also consume protein from plant sources: soya, pulses, beans, lentils. Foods made from soybeans are some of the best vegan protein sources.

We also recommend you to choose lean meats such as chicken or turkey without skin.

Fats and sugar

This group of foods is the one you need to cut down on. You need to understand that your body does not need any added sugar to function healthily. Naturally occurring sugars come with a variety of nutrients that the body needs to stay healthy. For example, alongside fructose, fruit contains fiber and various vitamins and minerals. Try to replace your lovely cakes and biscuits with a bowl of berries, crisps with unsalted seed, etc.

Fiber

Dietary fiber is found in wholegrain cereals, fruit, and vegetables. Fiber is made up of the indigestible parts or compounds of plants, which pass relatively unchanged through our stomach and intestines. Fiber is mainly a carbohydrate. Fiber is relatively indigestible, it adds bulk to our feces and keeps the digestive system healthy. Besides, there are other functions of our body, for which fiber is needed:

  1. lowering blood cholesterol
  2. keeping our weight under control
  3. stabilizing glucose – which is important if you have diabetes
  4. reducing your risk of other conditions (such as heart disease and some cancers).

Here are some good sources of fiber: pulses, nuts, seeds, grains, fruit, and vegetables.

Drinks

When you are strictly following your diet, you are not allowed to forget that drinks can also be high in calories, so you better watch what you drink as well. A lot of carbonated drinks contain a lot of sugar. So if you decide to still consume them, please, make it occasionally. You still have a variety of drinks you can buy when you are at the supermarket. 

Many companies can offer you those with zero calories. Nevertheless, it is better to replace them with water. If you are a tea or coffee lover, try to reduce the amount of sugar you are adding at the first stage. A bit later, it will be easier to cut it out completely.

Salt

Salt is not the element that makes you gain weight but it can still harm your body if you have too much of it in your body. Eating too much salt can contribute to high blood pressure, which is linked to conditions like heart failure and heart attack, kidney problems, fluid retention, stroke, and osteoporosis. That is why it is better to reduce the amount of salt you are adding to your food. It is recommended to limit salt intake to less than 9-12 g per day—that’s equal to about 1 teaspoon of table salt.

Step 10. Things to keep in mind while making changes

Having achieved certain results people frequently fall back into old eating and activity habits. This misstep can be one of the biggest obstacles a person may face. The key to this problem is to stay motivated, but it is easier said than done. 

Nevertheless, you need to remind yourself what was the reason you began this thorny path because it is not difficult to drop everything and leave. If you want to make a significant difference, you need to be aiming to make a series of persistent lifestyle changes step by step, rather than following your diet for some time.

By making your changes gradually and maintaining them for a long time, you will be doing great on your way to lowering your weight.

Whenever you are losing confidence in your achievements, just remind yourself that nothing is done quickly, and it takes time to reach the desired results. Besides, the key here is to stay positive and think of your healthy diet as something new and exciting. By entering a new world, the world of healthy and long-lasting life, you are getting an opportunity to explore something you have never tried before. 

You may try to learn new recipes for healthy and delicious dishes without even thinking of gaining weight. You can gain experience in the field of nutrition and become a nutritionist, or you may get yourself in shape and become a fitness coach. Everything is possible, and the main thing here is to set a goal correctly (see article 2 on how to set goals and achieve success), change your mindset, and work hard. 

You have to remember that there are many ways to enjoy your food and reduce calories and portions at the same time. Once you’ve begun exercising, make it a regular habit. Enjoy every step you are taking. Choose the types of exercises you like the most, or you can speak to your coach to create an individual plan for your training with all your wishes included. So you won’t be doing these techniques you are not into. 

Besides, if you feel uncomfortable, or if you possibly feel unwell while you are doing exercises, then it is better to replace them with something else. Or stop doing them immediately and tell your healthcare team about this. So they can find out what is wrong, and maybe you’ll need to get diagnosed.

When all the tests are done and you can continue being regularly active, there are two main goals to work on:

      getting stronger

      getting fitter

And both are important. Therefore, one of your next goals will be to increase your activity gradually by 5 or 10 minutes and steadily build up your strengths.

Goal 1: Becoming stronger

Resistance exercises are what you need.

A person who suffers from obesity or who is overweight is recommended to do these exercises at least twice a week. The main purpose of this is to make yourself stronger and therefore healthier. This kind of workout may help you to maintain your muscles and balance. This is also recommended for elderly people, as it keeps muscles strong and may improve mobility.

Goal 2: Becoming fit

You need to make your heart stronger as well. Give it a workout. Moderately intense aerobic activity can increase your heart rate and make you breathe harder. For an average person, this can be reached by simply walking briskly, but for people who are obese or overweight just getting up or walking a 3-meter distance may make them breathless and count as an aerobic activity. That’s why it is important to do everything gradually, and with time increase the intensity.

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