What are your New Year’s resolutions? To lose 2 stone? To detox/cleanse? To eat less? What if I told you, you could EAT MORE to look and feel great WITHOUT the need for a drastic diet or extreme exercise regime? It’s true – NO starvation diet needed!
Most New Year’s resolutions tend to fail, especially diet related, so here are ten achievable healthy eating goals for the New Year and a new you:
#1 Spread Out Your Protein Intake
Protein helps keep us feeling fuller for longer, making it easier to make healthier food choices & maintain a healthy weight. People tend to eat most of their protein at dinner, but eating a good source of protein at breakfast helps stabilise your blood sugar levels & sets you up for the day. Short on time in the morning? Why not hardboil some eggs the night before so they’re ready to go? You could add chicken or turkey to an omelette; have smoked salmon with avocado; add some unsalted almonds or sunflower seeds to your porridge; or replace high sugar jams with nut butters.
#2 Eat The Rainbow (No Not Skittles)
Eat more towards your 5-a-day to increase your antioxidant, vitamin & mineral intakes and lower your risk of chronic diseases. 1 serving = 80g eg. 1 medium apple, half an avocado or half a cup cooked spinach. Aim for at least 5 portions per day, focusing on green vegetables eg. spinach & kale; and bright vegetables eg. butternut squash. Add carrots/mushrooms to stews/Bolognese. Eat the whole fruit rather than drinking the juice or smoothies to increase fibre intake and help minimise the impact on your blood sugar. Select fruits that are relatively low in sugar eg: berries. A banana or apple makes a great accompaniment to a post workout whey protein shake.
#3 Eat More Oily Fish (Rich In Omega3s)
Unsaturated fats such as omega 3s found in oily fish, help reduce inflammation & reduce the risk of heart diseases. Aim to consume 2 portions of fish per week – at least 1 of which to be oily. For example, salmon, mackerel or sardines. For a cheap, convenient choice try tins of sardines or mackerel in tomato sauce. Olive oil, almonds & avocados are other good sources of healthy unsaturated fats.
#4 Snack The Right Way
Replace one unhealthy snack/food choice with a healthier one each day eg. Replace 1 bag of crisps with some homemade popcorn with tobasco sauce or vanilla; replace 1 chocolate bar with a hot drink made with unsweetened cocoa powder & coconut milk; replace 1 coffee with a herbal tea; replace white bread with brown rice.
#5 Eat Before You Shop & Practice Moderation
Eating a balanced snack before you shop helps you stick to your list & make healthier food choices. If you only keep good food in your fridge you will only eat good food. Treats are ok in moderation, just watch your portion sizes – buy a small chocolate bar or bag of crisps when you want a treat rather than stocking up with huge multipacks. Looking at your phone whilst queuing helps to resist temptation at the till.
#6 Plan Ahead
Cook double or even triple the night before and have the leftovers for lunch/dinner the next day. Cook up batches at the weekend and freeze for days when you have no time to cook. Plan snacks to avoid getting caught short – pop some unsalted nuts/seeds in your desk drawer and have an apple & 6-8 unsalted nuts as a snack. Snack before you go to a restaurant so you’re not absolutely starving when you get there. Carry a bottle of water with you as often we mistake thirst for hunger – keep hydrated & help keep the munchies at bay.
#7 Get Creative In The Kitchen
Most people spend around 20 minutes in the kitchen and only cook/prepare 8 meals. Try new vegetables each week eg. different squashes and experiment with new herbs & spices. Try roasted sweet potato, onion, butternut squash & aubergine with cumin, oregano & a little chilli powder. Serve with your choice of protein. Cook with brown rice & oats more often to help increase your fibre and nutrient intake and improve your gut health. Try other new foods eg. quinoa. Eat ‘In’ more so you have more control over what you are eating – plan dinner parties or experiment on your family.
#8 Eat Like A Caveman/Woman
Eat more real, unprocessed foods focusing on vegetables, some fruit, lean meats, fish, complex carbohydrates & healthy fats. Diet ‘fat-free/low-fat’ foods often contain hidden sugars as the fat is replaced by sugar. Sauces also tend to be high in saturated fat &/or sugar & our bodies convert excess sugar to fat. Cook with different combinations of herbs & spices & a little seasoning.
#9 Sleep More To Eat Better
Sleeping 7-9 hours each night will make it easier to make healthier food choices as the hormones which regulate your appetite work more effectively. You’ll find it easier to maintain a healthy weight & feel energised. Consuming magnesium rich foods such as spinach and pumpkin seeds help promote relaxation and better sleep.
#10 Eat Mindfully
Eat at the table, without the distraction of a computer screen or tv. It takes around 20 minutes for your brain to register the stomach is full. Enjoy each mouthful and watching portion sizes helps you become more aware of what you are eating. If you’re still hungry, eat more vegetables.
Keep it simple – aim to eat and enjoy a wide variety of foods each day. Healthy eating does not mean sacrificing taste or starving yourself. Focus on making small changes towards a sustainable, healthier lifestyle and find your balance depending on your activity levels. It’s never too late to make changes towards a healthier you.
Wishing you all health and happiness for the New Year!
Claire Thornton MSc ANutr DipCII