12 October 2011

A nutrition and exercise expert tells ANUSHA K. it is possible to maintain an ideal weight and still enjoy festive delicacies

IT’S Hari Raya and invitations to open houses are aplenty. Most people tend to overeat but Dr Nik Shanita Safii, Dietetics Programme senior lecturer at the School Of Healthcare Sciences, Faculty Of Health Sciences at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia says there is a way to avoid piling on the kilos.

“If there are open houses over the weekend, reduce portions of food on weekdays. Our energy or nutrient requirement is calculated weekly and if cutting down on main meals is difficult, eat smaller portions for the morning and afternoon tea breaks,” she says.

Having meals according to the time also helps to keep weight in check. Ideally, eat breakfast between 6am and 10am, lunch between noon and 3pm and dinner between 6pm and three to four hours before bedtime so that the food will be digested properly before we sleep. “But when we breakfast after 10am, we eat lunch later. Fat mass or adipose tissue then develops and those who keep to this routine will gain weight.

“Because our BMR (basal metabolic rate) is relatively low when fasting, we should have small portions and control the temptation to overeat. The BMR should gradually increase and return to normal with the right eating habits and physical activity,” she adds.

If we avoid all things greasy, sweet and oily, will it mean that our weight will be in check? “We should regulate our appetite with a balanced meal. All macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fat) as well as vitamins, minerals and fluids should be in our meal. The more we omit, the more we crave and as a result, we burden the body with not-so-healthy choices. It’s a vicious cycle.”

Dr Nik Shanita’s tips: Have small portions at every meal. Eat during proper meal times.

If you are craving for something unhealthy, have it on a smaller plate rather than restraining yourself and the bingeing on it later. It is beneficial to get at least an hour of physical activity or indoor stretching to get the blood circulation going.

This article was published in www.nst.com.my on 29 August 2011