What can we learn from slim people?

Some lucky people seem to eat all they want…

Some lucky people seem to eat all they want…

Given that I work to maintain my own healthy weight and support others doing so, Channel 4’s series of 4 programmes, “The Secret Lives of Slim People”, caught my eye. It looked at the lifestyle and diet of 8 volunteers who had been reported as staying slim despite reportedly over-eating. The volunteers were filmed and their lifestyle, habits, calorie count and exercise monitored to see what could be learned. How do these people stay within their Body-Mass-Index so effortlessly? (Note that BMI is a measure of health not appearance.) Sweets, booze and cola, double portions, burgers, carry-outs and scant deliberate exercise seemed to be the order of the day although their lifestyles and diets differed substantially.

Surprisingly, junk food eating did not necessarily mean over-eating as sometimes meals were skipped or left on the plate. In the end, despite what seemed, the volunteers’ calorie intake was about right for their day-to-day activity. Only one took-in more calories than she used - the scientists drew our attention to her parents’ slimness pointing out that it is a heritable trait. Not all the volunteers had slim families though.

Although little is new, here are the remaining points that came over:

  • Balance calories taken in with those expended - technology and Apps can help you do this.

  • Move! Use the stairs, walk, fidget, avoid long periods of sitting as brain and muscle-use burns calories. Some of those filmed were on their feet all day.

  • Eat slowly - savour your food and chew it thoroughly…put your cutlery down between bites. Mindless eating may cause over-eating so avoid distractions/eating on the hoof. Sit at a table.

  • Control portions - the volunteers were more deliberate about quantities than expected.

  • Pay attention to your body’s signals of fullness… be prepared to leave food on the plate.

  • Eat at regular times.

  • Consider chrono-nutrition - ie your body’s natural rhythm. Match your eating to when your body has produced chemicals to break down food. Apparently it’s best to “Eat Breakfast Like a King, Lunch Like a Prince, and Dinner Like a Pauper” so avoid late eating.

  • Develop a good sleep routine of at least 7 hours - only 5 or 6 hours affects the production of key appetite hormones thereby increasing your risk of obesity.

  • A repetitive diet is apparently helpful eg same breakfast and lunch with varied dinner. A Mediterranean diet is much respected for good health and weight-management.

  • Whether deliberate or not, intermittent fasting works - successful methods are the 5:2 and 16:8 so called “Wolverine” diet. Skipping meals seems more acceptable than before.

  • Avoid alcohol.

  • Chilli spice is a helpful addition for metabolism.

  • Vinegar dressing and pickled food such as gherkins and sauerkraut add diversity to the good bugs in your gut - the volunteer who relished these and a home-cooked vegetable-rich diet was shown by researchers to have the most diverse gut biome of any person they had scrutinised in the Western World!

  • The old adage: Eat to live not live to eat. (Satisfying hobbies/activities and staying socially connected will support your well-being. Putting more food in your stomach when it is already full will not!)

At the time of writing the Channel 4’s series can be seen on All 4 Catch-up for another week or so. If you would like coaching support or hypnotherapy to replace unhealthy habits with healthy ones, do not hesitate to get in touch with me. Clinic appointments are available at Mulberry House Complementary Clinic in the West End of Edinburgh or phone coaching is available at an affordable price. My email is audrey@summitlifecoaching.co.uk