Every new year millions of people around the globe set health goals for themselves, most include eating healthier and doing more exercise at the top of their lists. Unfortunately come the end of January many have already lost motivation and go back to their old habits and ways of eating. Sticking to new years resolutions can be difficult. It's important to set realistic and attainable goals and don't try to change everything all at once. Start out slowly making positive changes each week towards a healthier diet and lifestyle.
Here are 10 steps to making your healthy eating resolution stick.
The first thing you should do when embarking on a new healthy way of eating and living is to give your pantry a good overhaul. Get rid of all those sugary packets of biscuits, breakfast cereals and snack foods, so you can make way for healthy natural alternatives. Stock your kitchen up with fresh natural foods including fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds and some whole grains.
PLAN YOUR WEEK:
Make a list of meals you are planning to cook during the week before you do your weekly grocery shop. This will not only save you time and money but you will be less likely to go and eat out and eat the wrong foods. Go and buy some new cook books or look for healthy recipes online so you can experiment with new and exciting recipes.
Cook more for dinner so you can use leftovers for a healthy lunch. Freeze meals for dinners during the week when you are pushed for time, when you are most likely to grab some take-away. Leftover frittatas are delicious cold the next day, freeze curries and dahls, and leftover chicken, salmon, roast veggies, falafels and quinoa go beautifully tossed through a salad with lots of green leaves.
GRADUAL POSTIVIE CHANGES:
Don’t try to change everything in your diet at once, this can be too overwhelming and it may ruin your chances of sustaining your new healthy way of eating. Make gradual changes each week for example in week 1 you might want to focus on eating a healthy breakfast and increasing your water intake and clearing your cupboards out of unhealthy processed foods, week 2 swap unhealthy snacks for nutritious ones and up your fresh fruit and veggie intake, and week 3 include more green leafy veggies and brassicas with dinners and cut down your coffee intake.
Start learning to listen to your body. Practice mindful eating, where you sit in a relaxed manner and chew your food properly, and think about what you are putting into your body and how it will benefit your health. Learn to identify when you are full and when you are truly hungry.
KEEP BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS BALANCED:
Don’t skip meals, especially not breakfast. Having a good healthy breakfast is one of the best ways to set yourself up for a day of healthy eating. Skipping meals commonly leads to low blood sugar levels, sugar cravings, overeating during your next meal and a tendency to make poor food choices. Keep healthy snacks on hand, that way you are less likely to grab junk convenience food on the go. Having some healthy protein with meals and snacks is a great way to help stabilise your blood sugar levels and curb sugar cravings. Trail mixes, raw nuts and seeds, and homemade protein balls are great to keep in your bag when you get the munchies. Take some veggie sticks and hummus, or yoghurt and fruit to work.
EAT THE RAINBOW:
Include a few pieces of fresh fruit in your daily diet, and plenty of salad, green leaves and vegetables of different types and colours each day. This will ensure you are getting a nice balance of important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in your diet. Each week try a new fruit or vegetable you don't usually buy. Add flavour and goodness to meals with herbs and spices, make salad dressings with olive oil, lemon, apple cider vinegar and wholegrain mustard.
Don’t make the mistake of cutting out fats all together. Beneficial fats found in oily fish, nuts and seeds (including their pastes and oils), avocados and olive and coconut oils are an important part of any healthy diet. In moderation they play a big role in good health and can assist with healthy weight loss. Avoid heavily processed and greasy take-away foods that contain unhealthy trans-fats, and reduce saturated fats by limiting junk foods and reducing red meat and deli meat consumption. If you eat red meat go for organic and grass fed which has a healthier balance of omega-3 fats. Some saturated fats in the diet found naturally in foods such as nuts, coconut oil, and a little grass-fed organic butter or ghee however are needed for good health.
WHOLE GRAINS V's WHITE GRAINS:
High consumption of refined carbohydrates like sugary breakfast cereals, cakes and biscuits, and white breads, pasta and rice, are all low in fibre, which will cause sharp spikes and dips in blood sugar levels, resulting in low energy levels and sugar cravings. Always choose wholegrain such as grainy breads, brown rice and wholegrain pasta and make healthy baked goods at home for when you're feeling like a sweet treat. We have loads of delicious healthy recipes for cakes, cookies, balls and bars on our Bodhi website that are free from refined sugars, gluten, refined flours, artificial additives and vegetable oils.
Get rid of any sugary drinks from your fridge including soft drink, energy drinks, sugary iced teas and cordial. These drinks can contain up to 11tsp of sugar per can or bottle, or artificial sweeteners, and they provide no nutritional goodness. Drinking these sugary beverages regularly will result in weight gain, unstable blood sugar levels and tooth decay. Herbal teas, natural mineral water (add a splash of juice for flavour if you like), lemon water, green tea and vegetable juices are all healthy beverage choices. You should be drinking at least 2 Litres of filtered water daily to help flush out toxins from the body, prevent constipation, help keep your skin healthy and hydrated, and to improve brain function. Healthy fruit smoothies, homemade ‘real’ chai, healthy hot cacao (with medicinal mushrooms) and turmeric and ginger lattes (with collagen) made with nut milk and a little raw honey are also healthy choices during the week when you’re feeling like a healthy sweet treat. Steer clear of sugary ready-to-go milk drinks, powdered chai and hot chocolates that are loaded with refined sugars and artificial additives.
Written by Lisa Guy, naturopath and founder of Bodhi Organic Tea.