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Kia ora. I'm a wahine Maori, 67, overweight and BP today was 160/86. Tis high so have made an appointment with GP. Been walking for the last 8 weeks averaging 5kms a day. Want to lose weight. In the last 4 weeks have cut down on salt, dairy & sugar. Meat once a week, fish and eggs other days. Lots F & Vs. Tend to binge on bread. Portions an issue. As I get into the years social calendar I feel I need to know and anchor good eating habits - quick. Help please. Mauri ora. Colleen TeArihi
Question sent in anonymously
Fitness Expert replies:
Kia Ora Colleen
Thank you for your email and the extensive personal information you put into it. It’s is a good time of year to be thinking about the changes you need to make so here are my thoughts for you with your weight loss and of course your blood pressure and heart function, knowing that you also attended the seminar recently:
- The key to changing blood pressure is to start focussing on the things that you are starting to change, i.e. keep salt intake low and increase your water intake to at least 2 litres per day and increase your vegetable intake. Focus on good quality nutrients in all the food you eat. Ditch the ‘empty calories’.
2. According to obesity and nutritional studies, the focus for weight loss is on trying to increase your protein and decrease your starchy CHO (yes, start thinking about reducing bread in your diet but some wholemeal bread (2 slices per day) has good fibre. One of the research studies I refer people to (‘A 2005 Review of diet and exercise for weight loss’ from the American Sports Medicine Society) advocates a daily diet which is 30% protein, 40% carbohydrate and 20% fat. Of course the fat needs to come from Omega 3 sources (nuts, seeds, flax seed oil, avocadoes, fresh-water fish etc).
3. There is also good research now to support the fact that if you have been gaining weight around your abdomen and diaphragm (usually associated with menopausal weight gain), then you also need to focus on the type of carbohydrates you are taking on board. Too much starch and sugar increases the type of body-fat that is known to impact on heart disease (deeper visceral fat). Hence your sources of Carbohydrate need to come from vegetables (fruit only in the morning).
4. Breakfast is important, but focus on oats and cooked apple or eggs on toast – cut back cereals as they are relatively high in sugar and have ‘empty nutrients’.
5. There is a lot of discussion about a book called ‘The Sinatra Solution’ by Dr Stephen Sinatra – it is written by a cardiologist and he talks about heart disease, hypertension and high cholesterol and the need to have a nutrition plan undertaken based on one’s metabolic blood profile, as well as focussing on omega 3, CoQ10 (which enhances oxygen metabolism in the body) and some other important nutrients for cardiac health. Have a look at the book on-line. It makes interesting reading as his focus is on cleaning up the liver, gall bladder and lymphatic system first and foremost – these organs are the heart of being able to break down fats so they can be metabolised and processed. Try to do some reading around this if you can.
6. Keep up your exercise and as I said in the seminar, also try to increase your intensity a little bit, although the focus for you is firstly on nutrition so that you have more energy to exercise. Doing some resistance training will help as well, because fats are burned (oxidised) in muscle. As we get older, we suffer from sarcopenia (age-related muscle loss).
Anyway, the crux of the story is that to change your eating habits, you need good motivation and discipline, so recruit your whanau and think about mainly having foods that are fresh, plant-based and organic with a little more emphasis on proteins at each meal. The other thing to think about is going to a good nutritionist in your area so that you get on-going support and can have your progress tracked. When you are shopping, look for the following on food labels:
• Fat: less than 10 g / 100g
• Sugar: less than 20 g / 100g (if diabetic less than 10g / 100g)
• Fibre: greater than 10g / 100g
• Salt: less than 450 mg / 100g
Stay focussed and remember that it is long-term, sustainable weight loss & blood pressure control you want to achieve, so start slowly with a few changes and discipline yourself to stay motivated every day by thinking about your ‘triggers’ to eating behaviour. It’s an important focus for women!
Wendy Sweet (B.PhEd/ MSport & Leisure/ Registered Exercise Professional NZ)
Fitness & Wellness Expert for Wonder Walkers