MOST people have given up one vice or another over the past few days. From Dry January to Veganuary or quitting sugar, we all strive to be a fitter, healthier, better version of ourselves at this time of year.
For many people January is the month for changing things for the better. A get fit quick plan, or lose half a stone in a week. Mostly these promises are made by fad diets and someone trying to make a fast buck out of us.
The truth is that wellbeing (and that includes being at your healthy weight) is a long-term commitment. If weight loss is your goal this January, then no matter what diet you have decided to follow, there are a few simple rules that will soon become daily habits which will help at any time of the year. They are easy to stick to, get results and work. Choose one change and stick to it this week. By the end of the week you are likely to feel a whole lot better.
SIMPLE RULES AND GUIDELINES
1 Aim for three main meals and include snacks only if you need to.
Forget the ‘little and often‘ mantra and get back to eating three meals a day. Eat enough at your main mealtimes to keep you going for a few hours. When we snack we raise our insulin levels and prime our body to store more fat. I also find that when my clients take snacks out of the picture, they tend to eat healthier as it is often the snacks between meals that add salt, sugar and the wrong sort of fat to their diets, which contributes to weight gain.
If you really need a snack, then eat something that will add a little pop of nutrition to your day, like carrot sticks with houmous (to contribute to your five a day), a handful of nuts (for a mid-afternoon protein hit that is packed with essential fats).
2. Include protein every time you eat.
Protein will help to keep you feeling fuller for longer, So make sure you include a palm-sized portion of the stuff with every meal. Choose from eggs, meat, fish, chicken, nuts, seeds, natural or Greek yoghurt (full fat and unflavoured is best), cheese (I’d recommend cottage, goat’s or feta cheese), houmous, beans, lentils or quinoa.
3. Drink 2-2.5 litres of water/day.
Keep well hydrated. Sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger. Keep your water levels topped up and replace one or two of your teas or coffees with herbal teas each day.
Within a few days you are likely to notice a difference to your skin, digestion and energy levels.
4. Limit or eliminate alcohol, caffeine, sugar, artificial sweeteners.
You know it makes sense. Whether you quit altogether, or simply reduce your intake of this stuff, your body will thank you for it. Start by keeping a food diary and notice your daily or weekly habits. When do you grab a coffee, what time of day are you looking for a sugar hit, and how often do you drink alcohol? Once you notice your habits, then it is easier to change them.
Just a word on diet foods. Low fat, skinny, light/lite – all of these words should be a red light to avoid. Don’t be fooled by the low-fat brigade who advocate eating over-processed junk food (and I am thinking Skinny Whips, Muller Lights and low-fat spreads). This is not food. Get back to basics and eat real food.
I hope this helps get your on a healthy track.