The New Year is officially here and many of us are thinking about what we can do to get back on track. Every year we set ourselves New Year’s resolutions that we often can’t keep. This year through moments of bitesize positivity we’re encouraging you to make small changes to your lifestyle that can make a big difference to your health and happiness over time rather than looking for those quick fixes. Here are my top 10 tips to help set you up for the year ahead:
1. BACK TO BASICS
A healthy, balanced diet doesn’t need to be expensive or involve lots of so called ‘superfoods’. Taking your diet back to basics is one of the best things you can do to eat healthier and lose weight. This includes eating the foods you can easily buy at your local supermarket including fruit, veg, beans, pulses, wholegrains, fish, meat, dairy, herbs and spices. All of these foods are very nutritious and adaptable.
2. TRY SOMETHING NEW
Most of us eat the same foods every week and rarely try something new. Whilst it’s good to stick to the basics, there are lots of foods that you probably walk straight past in the supermarket and have never tried. For example, have you ever tried papaya, kohl rabi or pinto beans? Adventure out of your comfort zone and try a new food each week. Eating a variety of nutritious foods provides our bodies with lots of different nutrients and supports our gut health.
3. EAT MORE PULSES
We are always told to eat more fruit and veg, but did you know that pulses, including beans, lentils and peas, count towards one of your five a day? These foods are cheap and easily available in your local supermarket. You can buy them dried or precooked and they’re extremely versatile when it comes to cooking. You can add them to soups, curries, salads and stews. They’re also low in fat but a great source of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals.
4. DON'T RESTRICT YOURSELF
If you restrict yourself of the foods you enjoy, you will often end up craving and overindulging in them. Eating a balanced diet and everything in moderation, is the best approach to have. If you eat nutritious foods most of the time, then you shouldn’t feel guilty when you choose to have something that isn’t as healthy.
5. SET YOURSELF ACHIEVABLE GOALS
Whatever it is that you want to achieve, it’s worth setting yourself achievable goals (bitesize changes!). That way you’re be able to track your progress and see how you’re improving each week. For example if you want to get into running or improve your running, sign up for a 10km race at the end of February. You therefore know you’ve got 8-9 weeks to train and it will hopefully encourage you to keep up your training. If you’re new to running, there are some fantastic apps such as the 'Couch to 5k or 10km' that build your running pace and distance up slowly. If you jump into it too quickly you may not enjoy it.
6. MOVE MORE
This doesn’t necessarily mean going to the gym every day, but making sure you aren’t sitting down for too long or always taking the lift. Many of us sit on a chair at our desks most of the day, sometimes not having moved for a few hours. Small changes to your daily routine can really make a difference to your physical and mental wellbeing. Make sure you get up off your chair every hour to go for a walk around the office. At lunchtime, don’t eat your lunch at your desk, go for a 20 minute walk outside in the fresh air. When you’re on your way to work, take the stairs or walk up the escalator, or get off the bus one stop earlier.
7. FIND SOMETHING YOU ENJOY
Many of us aren’t motivated to do exercise because we feel like it’s a chore. If you find a type of exercise you enjoy doing and look forward to, it should hopefully help motivate you to workout. This could be something a little more fun such as bouldering, boxing, outdoor boot camps, Hulafit or trampolining.
8. JOIN A LOCAL SPORTS CLUB
Team sports may seem like something you did when you were a teenager but do you remember how much fun they were? Clubs aren’t just for those who take their sport seriously, they’re one of the best things you can do to improve your performance. They’ll also help motivate you to exercise and are a lot more enjoyable that exercising alone. There are clubs for all sorts of sports including swimming, running, dancing, ballet, netball, triathlon, touch rugby, squash and fencing, to name a few.
9. AVOID QUICK FIXES & HIGH FAD DIETS
We all want to kick start our health in January but it’s important to do it the right way. Quick fixes (as the name implies) and high fad diets may seem like the go-to option but these are often not sustainable and will only help you in the short term (see my article here on which I would and wouldn't recommend). They’re also usually restrictive and not very nutritious. If you want to change your diet, I would recommend eating a more natural, balanced diet. Including in your diet lots of fruit, veg and wholegrains, moderate amounts of fish, meat and dairy and less processed, high sugar, high fat foods and drinks.
10. GET MORE SLEEP
We all pledge to go to bed earlier than we do but many of us don’t get into bed before 11pm. Sleep is very important for our health and wellbeing, it boosts your immune system, helping your body recover from illnesses. It helps your brain recover and revive itself, storing memories and creating new ideas. It also allows your mind to unwind and de-stress, restoring your mental and emotional wellbeing. If you find it difficult to get to sleep, try to create a relaxing environment. Have a warm bath or shower before bed, avoid caffeine late at night and don’t look at your phone or a screen before going to bed. Exercise in the evening after work whether it’s cycling or yoga, can often make you feel more energetic but refreshed and relaxed at the same time. Most of us need around 8 hours of good-quality sleep a night to function at our best. The quality of your sleep is often more important than the amount of sleep you get.
We hope you find these tips useful and manage to incorporate some bite size changes into your daily routine.
Gemma, The Food Doctor Nutritionist
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