Diet and Wellbeing

Weight loss and Dietary Information sheet

 If you are reading this then you are thinking about losing weight and improving your diet. That is great.

 Why should I lose weight?

Being overweight and obese can have serious, adverse effects on your health. Being overweight means you are more likely to suffer with bowel cancer and cancer of the food pipe (oesophagus). Women are more likely to get cancer of the ovaries, breasts and uterus if they are overweight. You are more likely to develop diabetes, which can lead to loss of sight, loss of sensation in your limbs, kidney problems and leg ulcers. You are also more likely to have problems with your heart and your mobility.

 In short there are LOTS of very good reasons to lose weight.

 The theory of weight loss

Theoretically, in order to keep your weight steady you need to ensure that your intake of energy (calories) is the same as the energy your body uses up doing physical activity and everyday body functions. If you take in more calories than you use up then the extra calories will be turned into fat and you will gain weight. Conversely, if you use up more calories than you consume then you will use up your body’s fat stores and you will lose weight. Therefore in order to lose weight your body must use up more energy than you take in either by increasing your physical activity levels or reducing the amount of calories in food and drink you consume. This, however, is quite a simplistic way of looking at weight loss. Our body is much more complex than this. It is interesting to note that the body digests different food groups in different ways. For example, eating carbohydrates (sugar, pasta, rice, potatoes, bread etc) causes the body’s own sugar (glucose) level to rise. The body then releases the hormone INSULIN in order to reduce the blood sugar level. Insulin however also causes the body to store FAT so any food that stimulates insulin will stimulate fat storage i.e carbohydrates. Protein has less effect on insulin and fat has NO effect on insulin and therefore these 2 on their own cause less fat storage (strange though that sounds).

 i.e. it is the SUGAR and the carbohydrates that are the main drivers of WEIGHT GAIN. Fat is not the enemy!

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General guidelines for healthier eating:

  •  Cut down on the amount of processed, high salt, high fat, high sugar foods. Try to eat foods that look like the original food!
  •  Try having hot drinks without adding sugar and as far as possible stop sugary drinks, sweets, chocolate, cakes and biscuits
  •  Start the day by having breakfast, skipping breakfast can lead to a lack of concentration and snacking on possibly higher calorie foods later in the morning.
  •  Include/increase the proportion of higher protein foods each day such as fish (esp oily fish), chicken and pulses such as peas, beans and lentils
  •  When eating carbohydrates try to choose high fibre carbohydrate foods (rather than low fibre) such as wholegrain cereals, wholemeal bread, brown rice, wholewheat pasta. The fibre slows down the rise in blood sugar levels.
  •  Replace starchy carbohydrates with vegetables. Try to eat more vegetables than fruit as fruit can contain sugar. Berries such as strawberries and blueberries and raspberries contain less sugar than other fruits. Bananas are best avoided.
  •  Make sure you take enough fluid every day by having about 6 – 8 glasses each day whether this is as tea, coffee, sugar-free soft drinks, water, herbal or fruit teas
  •  Be careful with alcoholic drinks. Beer in particular can cause a big rise in blood sugar. It is often called “liquid bread”.


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Beware of the hidden sugar in everyday foods. The world health organization advises that we should consume less than 10 teaspoons of sugar per day



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Tips on increasing activity

 WALKING is a fantastic way of increasing your activity levels and it is free. We are encouraged to walk 10000 steps per day by the NHS choices. You can buy a pedometer for a few pounds in high street stores. 10000 steps may be too many for a lot of people but aiming to increase by 2000 per day from your baseline is a good target. Walk with friends or join a walking groupthere are lots of them locally.

SIT LESS:- Being sedentary (sitting) is very bad for our health. Simple ways to reduce our sedentary time include taking breaks to get up and walk around when watching tv. Taking the stairs rather than the lift. Walking rather than driving etc.


Managing Hunger

 To manage your weight, you have to manage your hunger. Here are our eight top tips:


  1. S-l-o-o-o-w down. Your body takes about 20 minutes to signal it’s had enough food. Leafy green salads take a while to eat, giving your body enough time to recognize it’s satisfied.
  2. Don’t snack unless you feel you need to and have small healthy snacks. Foods with fibre or protein, such as a small piece of cheese, whole grain crackers or (unsalted/ plain) nuts, will help keep you from feeling hungry between meals.
  3. Select high fibre foods. They’ll help you feel full longer.
  4. Choose foods with high water content— whole fruits, whole vegetables and broth-based soups—to help reduce hunger.
  5. Stay calm. Develop ways to cope with stress so you’re less likely to overeat.
  6. Stay hydrated. Often dehydration makes us feel hungry. A glass of water before a meal can help reduce overeating by encouraging adequate hydration, and by giving you a sense of ‘fullness’ even with smaller portion sizes
  7. Increase your activity, not your snack size. Keeping active is VITAL for health. It ahs been shown to increase lifespan, reduce cancer recurrence, reduce risk of chronic illnesses and improve mental wellbeing. You don’t have to join a gym, just walk more, use the stairs and get off the bus a stop early!

 Where to find help when you are trying to lose weight

Losing weight is not easy. If it was then there would not be as many overweight and obese people in the UK. However, there are services available to help you on your weight loss journey. Locally these services include:

 Scottish Slimmers and Weight Watchers : There are lots of local groups, such as these, and the support they give can be very motivating for some people. They do require some payment but usually it is not much.

 GATE 55: frequently run free ‘Lets cook healthy’ classes. Learning to cook your own meals from scratch with fresh ingredients is a tasty and healthy way to help weight loss. For more information please contact Fiona on 652 6324 or Moffat Early Years Campus 669 4213 or email

 Mobile phone apps: MyFitnessPal is available for free download on all mobile platforms and is one of the biggest names amongst others in this area. With a database of more than two million food items, the platform makes it easy for users to keep track of calories and so much more. MyFitnessPal can be used with all diets, whether you're going low carb, high protein, or just trying to eat healthier.

 Pedometers: These smart gadgets come in all shapes, sizes and prices. They can count how many steps you take in a day, helping you assess and track how much exercise you are doing. Many people find them very helpful in managing their exercise and weight loss programmes.

 Online. There are also some excellent websites such as: If you are interested in adopting a low carbohydrate approach which is great for weight loss and particularly for those with Type diabetes then this website is a wonderful resource and you can sign up to a free 2 week starter programme. This website has excellent practical and evidence based advice on eating a diet low in refined carbohydrates and higher in protein and healthy fats. The evidence is building that this way of eating is very good for all round health, prevention and treatment of diabetes and weight loss. . This is a joint NHS Scotland and Scottish government initiative. The website has lots of useful information about where to find exercise and activities in your area and about diet etc. This site is excellent for those with diabetes or prediabetes and has a programme to follow and support forum Another highly informative site with recipes etc. Really worth a look. This is a website for those with Type 2 diabetes. It allows the individual to sign up and have access to their bloods results and hospital letters etc. This allows you to take ownership of your condition.


Recommended reading: Knowledge is power!

Why we get fat and what to do about it? Gary Taubes. This is quite a scientific book but the information is excellent.

The 8 week Blood Sugar diet by Dr Michael Mosley. This book is particularly good if you have type 2 diabetes but the general principles are exactly the same for weight loss. It is very easy to follow and has recipes etc so well worth a read.

The Real Meal Revolution by Prof Tim Noakes. This book has been a box office hit in South Africa and givens the science behind the benefits of a diet low in carbohydrates and higher in healthy fat. It gives recipes and also list of foods that you can eat in abundance and lists of foods to avoid.

Escape the Diet Trap by Dr John Briffa. Well written clear and informative.

The Pioppi Diet by Aseem Malhotra: this book gives the scientific evidence for various diets and debunks the low fat theory of weight loss. It gives advice on the very healthy Mediterranean diet.

Mindful Eating : Another nice mindful eating book written by Rachel Bartholomew and Mandy Pearson. A lovely book highlighting how to eat more mindfully and to slow down our eating and tune into our body’s hunger signalsare you really hungry?

So what should I eat to help control my diabetes? (also for general health and weight loss!)

The problem with having diabetes is your metabolism can no longer deal with sugar, which becomes almost a poison; its consumption needs cutting back dramatically.

Reduce starchy carbs a lot (remember they are just concentrated sugar). If possible cut out the ‘White Stuff’ like bread, pasta, rice – though porridge, new potatoes and oat cakes in moderation may be fine. Sugar – cut it out altogether , although it will be in the blueberries, strawberries and raspberries you are allowed to eat. Cakes and biscuits are a mixture of sugar and starch that make it almost impossible to avoid food cravings; they just make you hungrier!!

All green veg/salads are fine – eat as much as you can . So that you still eat a good big dinner try substituting veg such as broccoli, courgettes or green beans for your mash, pasta or rice – still covering them with your gravy, Bolognese or curry! Tip: try home-made soup – it can be taken to work for lunch and microwaved. Mushrooms, tomatoes, and onions can be included in this.

Fruit is trickier; some tropical fruits like bananas, oranges, grapes, mangoes or pineapples have too much sugar in and can set those carb cravings off. Berries are better and can be eaten; blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, apples and pears too.

Proteins such as in meat, eggs (three eggs a day is not too much), fish – particularly oily fish such as salmon, mackerel or tuna –are fine and can be eaten freely. Plain full fat yoghurt makes a good breakfast with the berries. Processed meats such as bacon, ham, sausages or salami are not as healthy and should only be eaten in moderation.

Fats (yes, fats can be fine in moderation): olive oil is very useful, butter may be tastier than margarine and could be better for you! Coconut oil is great for stir fries. Four essential vitamins A, D, E and K are only found in some fats or oils. Please avoid margarine, corn oil and vegetable oil. Beware ‘low fat’ foods . They often have sugar or sweeteners added to make them palatable. Full fat mayonnaise and pesto are definitely on!!

Cheese: in moderation – it’s a very calorific mixture of fat, and protein.

Snacks: avoid, as habit forming . But un-salted nuts such as almonds or walnuts are OK to stave off hunger. The occasional treat of strong dark chocolate 70% or more in small quantity is allowed.


Finally, about sweeteners and what to drink – sweeteners have been proven to tease your brain into being even hungrier, making weight loss more difficult – drink tea, coffee, and water or herb teas. I’m afraid alcoholic drinks are full of carbohydrate – for example, beer is almost ‘liquid toast’ hence the beer belly!! Perhaps the odd glass of red wine wouldn’t be too bad if it doesn’t make you get hungry afterwards – or just plain water with a slice of lemon.

The Low-carbohydrate, higher healthy fats diet for pre-diabetes and type two diabetes explained (Also good for reducing middle aged spread and may improve liver function)

This information is only part of how any particular person may decide which diet or indeed lifestyle is the best for them. If you are on prescribed medication or suffer from a significant medical condition we strongly advise you to consult your own doctor before making changes. For example improvements in lifestyle and weight loss may also significantly improve your blood pressure or diabetes control requiring a reduction in medication.

What are carbs?

They can be seen as foods either containing sugars or built up from sugars, which form their building blocks. The starches in flour, potatoes, rice and other grains are examples where largely glucose is concentrated by the plant for storage. When we eat these starches the process of digestion rapidly breaks them back down into glucose.

How does insulin fit in? Why does eating carbs make you more hungry?

After digestion the glucose released is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream –the body knows that high sugar levels are toxic to it, so responds by producing the hormone insulin from the pancreas gland. One of the functions of insulin is to cause particularly your abdominal fat cells and liver to absorb the glucose to produce fat. The resultant lower glucose level causes you to have hunger or ‘carb cravings’ and you return to the cookie jar to repeat the cycle, getting fatter in the process

According to many experts on low-carb diets, including Gary Taubes and the late Dr. Atkins, lower insulin levels as a result of reduced carb consumption is the main reason for the effectiveness of low-carb diets. Over 33 good scientific studies have shown the approach to work well. They feel that, when carbs are restricted and insulin levels go down, the fat isn’t “locked” away in the fat cells anymore and becomes accessible for the body to use as energy, leading to reduced need for eating. Also it’s quite possible for the body to become adapted to burning fat as its main fuel over several weeks. Many on the low-carb diet notice they lose belly fat first because of this. Someone with diabetes has a particular problem in metabolizing glucose so the blood sugar levels after a carby meal stay at toxic, high levels possibly damaging the small blood vessels in the eye, kidney and other organs. It seems to make particular sense for those with Type 2 diabetes not to take in carbs given that we can live well off other foods such green veg, protein such as eggs, meat & fish, nuts and healthy fats. The weight loss that comes with the diet can help many diabetics to avoid medication altogether and feel healthier into the bargain!

The low carb diet is a lifestyle choice rather than a diet for a few weeks, because of course going back to the carbs will stimulate the insulin levels and obesity to increase again, to cause worsening diabetes.

If you stick to the accompanying diet sheet it is not usually necessary to weigh your food or calorie count.

Will a diet higher in healthy fats increase my cholesterol level?

Surprisingly low carb studies often show the opposite because most of the cholesterol in your blood is manufactured from carbs in your liver and has not come from your diet at all.

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