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Stress and weight gain (or the inability to lose weight) are inextricably-linked. Continued stress encourages the adrenal glands to release the stress hormones, their continued release upsets blood sugar hormones and the body is prompted to store fat. Disaster! Endeavouring to reduce the stress in your life is without doubt the best tactic, but easier said than done for many. Short-lived (acute) stress is extraordinarily efficiently dealt with by the body, ongoing (chronic) stress is not and prompts an increased risk of both physical and mental illness so has to be managed in every way we can possibly factor into our daily lives. The health of each and every one of the 10 major body systems can be compromised as a result of emotional, physical, nutritional and environmental stress or a combination of some or all but changing a few habits can make huge inroads and improving our diet is something we can all do with a bit of help and encouragement.

a few diet secrets

Max with magnesium. This magic little mineral has enviable properties when it comes to keeping stress at bay and because it’s close cousin, calcium tends to get more attention, is often forgotten and therefore deficient in many diets. Make your snacks really count when your day is full on and make them magnesium-rich. Top combinations are rice, bean, lentil and/or quinoa salads, super-green soups and juices, half an avocado filled with hummus, a couple of oatcakes with almond butter or a small packet of pumpkin seeds with a small bar of very dark chocolate. All are easy to find and easy to transport and unlike a sugary snack, will calm your nerves and help you concentrate on the next crucial item on the to do list.

Choose carefully. If you regularly have to lunch or dine out you have to be on your guard if you are trying to lose weight. Ignore the dining companion that tries to foist the bread roll on you - have some olives instead. The best route is to keep it simple. Decide that whenever you eat out you are going to start with soup or a mixed salad, have fish, poultry, game or red meat with lots of vegetables but no sauces or starchy stuff on the side for your main course, have a double espresso instead of dessert and ask for a large bottle of sparkling water with plenty of ice and lemon and keep sipping throughout the meal - the bubbles help to fill you up. And if alcohol is involved, stick to dry white or rich, ruby red wine.  

Eat light at night. After a long and stressful day, all you want to do is put your feet up and gorge on some sort of comforting starchy meal - a plate of pasta, a meat casserole with mash, a delicious risotto or a baked potato with melted cheese. And, if you are travelling and you don’t get to your night stop until late, room service is rarely on the side of the waist-watcher. But, going to bed on a stomach full of starch will do you no favours as you have no doubt discovered when digestive issues keep you awake half the night. Stress and fatigue are no friends to efficient digestion and starch and sugar merely exacerbate the problem so opt for lots of greens with lightly-cooked fish, shellfish or poultry or an omelette and if you are still hungry before bed have a rich, dark hot chocolate.

have a look at the gallery to see some of the delicious dishes involved in your new diet!

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