To eat or not to eat: Keeping healthy in London

Gone are the days where home-cooked meals and fresh ingredients were just a normal part of our daily lives. Packaged sandwiches and quick take-out bags have replaced mealtimes for most Londoners.

Do you find yourself in a hurry to leave your house in the morning, without having a proper breakfast or a packed lunch? Studies show you are not alone.

According to the Food Standards Agency (2014), nearly 75 per cent of individuals have admitted to eating out at least once a week. Restaurants are the most frequented places to get a bite to eat, followed by coffee shops, and various take-way outlets.

Londoners talk about their eating habits in the big city. 

Most UK workers find it hard to prepare a fresh home-cooked meal when they spend most of their day commuting to and from work. Buying a quick sandwich at lunch or a burger at a nearby fast food chain has become the norm for most UK workers.

According to a survey by TotalJobs, people in the UK commute to work 400 days out of their entire lifetime. Many hours dedicated commuting to and from work come with some serious consequences. One of the biggest concerns associated with long commuting hours is developing poor physical health.

According to TotalJobs, commuting to and from work takes an average of 48 minutes from your day. Commuting early in the morning leaves little to no time to prepare a healthy breakfast or lunch, leaving many people to buy food on the go.

Food Standards Agency has also revealed that there are gender differences in the types of people who are more prone to eating out. Statistics find that men are more likely to eat out than women, and were reported to eat out more than three times in a one week time period.

Many people rely on eating out because it is quick and convenient. Eating out does not have to be entirely unhealthy. There are still ways you can eat out and keep a healthy and active lifestyle.

Valentina Cartago, Founder of The Italian Nutritionist, talks about nutrition and dieting in London.

Nutritionist Valentina Cartago suggests when eating outside, opt for a light salad or a healthy sandwich. To make your meal more fun and nutritious, add in colourful healthy foods, such as avocado, kale, lentil, or red pepper to spruce up lunch time.

Valentina says: “Colour in your diet is the basic. As nutritionists, we say eat a rainbow. And its because as I’ve said before using different colour will give you vitamins and minerals, so the important thing is when eating foods in variety.”

As it is very easy to gain weight by eating fast and affordable food outside, many people want to lose the weight as quickly as they can. This often results in people submitting themselves to non-conventional dieting methods, such as, surgery, weight loss supplements, liquid diets, and waist training.

Mai Shalaby discusses what it was like getting a sleeve gastrectomy.

Mai Shalaby, a 33-year-old private business owner, is one of the many individuals who lost weight unconventionally. She underwent a sleeve gastrectomy four years ago—a procedure where part of the stomach is surgically removed, in order to reduce the amount of food eaten on a daily basis.

Mai shares her weight loss story and explains what it was like having a sleeve gastrectomy: “The procedure was fine so far. I didn’t have any complications after the surgery, but some of my friends did. It’s very painful for sure. For the first months, you cannot eat,” says Mai.

“I wasn’t able to eat or drink at all for three weeks. I was only taking a small spoonful of honey just to give me energy because I used to faint a lot. This also made me very dehydrated.”

Relying on surgeries, quick fad diets, and miracle weight loss supplements is not the healthiest route to take to lose weight and keep it off. These treatments will only work on a short-term basis. To be physically healthy and sustain your weight loss progress, the traditional methods seem to be the better option.

After her experience with the sleeve gastrectomy, Mai wanted to take care of her body, so she opted for a healthier and more sustainable approach.

“I’ve been doing CrossFit for the past 6 months now and I see a huge transformation in my body shape. The gastrectomy made me lose weight, but my body was really horrible,” says Mai.

“I had a lot of sagging. When I walked, everything was so saggy—it was not a firm body. After CrossFit, it was completely transformed. Especially now, there’s a program I’m in where I eat anything I want, but it’s still high protein and low sugar and it’s good with the CrossFit because it burns all the calories.”

If Mai had the chance to make this decision again, she would think twice and not have done the sleeve gastrectomy. The procedure resulted in many complications to her health. She lost hair and constantly developed stomach ulcers.

“I would give myself the chance to try body transformation programs because up until now, I have severe pain in my stomach and there are types of food that I cannot eat at all. I had implants in almost all of my teeth because after constantly throwing up, the direct acid on the mouth damaged my teeth a lot.”

To avoid all the potential complications of weight loss surgeries, sticking to a healthy diet and proper exercise is the healthier way to lose weight. Surgeries, fad diets, and weight loss supplements are not sustainable ways to lose weight, because there are often very serious side effects—as proven by Mai.

Dieting and exercising does not have to be hard nor inconvenient. There are many ways to be healthy and stay healthy while living a busy lifestyle. By choosing the right foods, you are still able to eat out. It all comes down to your mind-set and the effort you put in to your health.

(Feature editor/writer: Asena Degirmenci; Multimedia editor: Betina Gluhova; Video production editor: Roshan Elshormolessy; Audio and video editor: Sreelakshmi Vachaspathy)

[Feature Image: Roshan Elshormolessy/Voice of Westminster]

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