The simplest advice is often the best when it comes to making positive changes to your diet, yet it is a piece few of us follow.
With New Year’s resolutions we tend to fixate on unrealistic goals, and that sets us up for failure. We say “I’m going to lose 50 pounds”, or we get caught up in a cleanse or jump into a new strict diet. More often than not, this leads to a cycle of fad diets – rather than healthy, long term change.
Instead of thinking of them as resolutions, think of them as new traditions — things that you are going to start now and maintain over time.
Here are 4 key steps for getting it right:
1. Avoid the pitfalls
Do not make weight-related resolutions
Focus on behavioural changes
Avoid fad diets
Set realistic goals
Realistic goals are measurable, and setting a timeline helps you to reach them. For example, if I do not go to the gym at all now, I would say: “For the next month, I’ll go to the gym twice a week.” At the end of the month, I can easily evaluate my progress. If I met my goal, I can set a new one. If not, I can consider what I can do to make it happen the next month.
2. Take it one meal at a time
Look at every meal or snack as an opportunity to make healthy choices. Make that choice the goal — not what you think that choice will ultimately do for you.
3. Maximize your efforts with sleep and exercise
Sleep, activity and nutrition are connected. Inadequate sleep can lead to increased stress, and that can lead to strange eating patterns, late-night snacking, skipping breakfast, and unhealthy nutritional cycles in general.
Of course, we all aim for 8 hours of sleep per night, but if you are only sleeping 6 now, try to get 7. Small, incremental changes make a big difference.
The same is true for physical activity. If you are already doing a lot of cardio, add strength training 1 or 2 days a week. If you are not exercising at all, start with 10 minutes a day and work your way up to 30.
4. Set the right goals
Here are 5 realistic nutrition-based goals:
Increase your vegetable intake
Most of us do not eat enough vegetables, so start small. If you are not eating many vegetables, focus on adding 1 or 2 more servings a day. Throw a handful of spinach into pasta, or add peppers and onions to your scrambled eggs. You do not have to start eating salad for every meal to get a big nutritional benefit.
Switch from refined, white grains to whole grain
Choosing whole grain pasta, bread or crackers can increase fiber, which is important for digestive health.
Cook at home 1 more night a week
We all get in the habit of relying on processed or packaged foods because they are easier to throw together at the end of a long day. Try to cook just one more night a week with fresh ingredients. It is a great way to cut down on hidden sodium and extra calories.
Cut down on sugary drinks
Cutting down on soft drinks is an easy way to remove empty calories and stabilize your blood sugar spikes - and the same is true of juice, which many people forget about. Start by trying to cut out 1/2 of your sugary drinks per week, and add one extra glass of water per day. Most of us do not drink enough water, and hydration is key for metabolism to function properly. Eventually replace all of your sugary drinks with water or herbal tea!
Go meatless 1 day a week
Swap the meat in one or two meals for beans, lentils or tofu, for example - which are great, affordable sources of protein.
Last, but not least.....consider booking an appointment with us to help you to build the right habits you need for long-lasting success!