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By Rosemary Conley C.B.E and the rosemaryconleyonline team.

There is no doubt that moving abroad means adjustments to our diets and lifestyles. But rather than hankering after what we have left behind in the U.K, we should try to embrace all the new foods available to us. It may not be as easy to find many frozen or convenience foods, but there are plenty of great low fat meals you can create from local ingredients.

Scientific studies show that choosing foods with a low glycaemic index helps prevent heart and diabetic health problems. Low GI diets are based around foods which, since they break down slowly in the digestive process, cause the least fluctuations in blood glucose levels and help to stem hunger. Such foods include fresh fruit and vegetables, grains like basmati rice, quinoa or couscous, wholegrain bread and pasta.

The vast array of local fruits and vegetables and fresh meat and locally caught fish available abroad makes it quite simple to make healthy food choices. Eat a rainbow of different coloured seasonal fruits and vegetables to ensure plenty of vitamins and minerals for heart health and help fight disease. For example, pineapples, papayas and mangoes contain an enzyme that helps digestion and may help to ease the inflammation of arthritis, while chillies and red peppers (capsicum) help to stimulate metabolic rate ( good news for dieters), lower cholesterol, aid digestion and contain high levels of capsaicin which is a natural pain killer.

When watching your weight remember that excess dietary fat, no matter whether extra virgin olive oil or lard, creates excess body fat. Cooking methods vary regionally, so try to use oil sparingly or better still omit altogether and if cooking with coconut milk, which is high fat, try to buy a reduced fat version. It is often hard to identify low fat products as labelling can differ greatly from in the UK, so choose carefully and avoid obviously high fat products like cheeses and pastries.

Portion sizes can be larger than those in the UK too which can cause accidental overeating, so keep a check of how much you eat. Easy measuring ‘servers’ will help you at home, perhaps a carton or cup that holds a single ’standard’ portion of cereal or rice.

Everyone should drink plenty of water every day and particularly so in hot countries. Plain water is best but if you can’t drink, or simply don’t like the taste of tap water, choose flavoured bottle water or mix with low-calorie cordials or fruit juices or drop a slice of fresh fruit in your glass. Aim to drink at least two litres of fluid every day. This will help you to feel fuller – which encourages you to eat less - and is crucial for the health of your kidneys. Remember if you feel thirsty your body is already beginning to dehydrate. Fizzy diet drinks are low calorie and if consumed occasionally are perfectly fine, but research has shown that an excess can cause tooth decay.

A healthy diet and regular exercise are the key to successful weight loss and maintenance. Exercising for 30 minutes at a level that makes you slightly out of breath, three to five times a week is our recommendation. Take up a local sport or activity - whether it’s Nordic walking, cycling, skiing, surfing, scuba diving, belly-dancing- doesn’t matter as long as you enjoy it.

To succeed on any diet it is crucial to have the support of others. Living abroad and adjusting to a new diet can be difficult and you can feel very isolated.

rosemaryconleyonline.com  provides great support for expats with an overseas members section in the coffee shop, and the facility to buddy up with other expats for extra support.

To find out more about our online slimming club, please visit rosemaryconleyonline.com 

Posted 11Jan08