Forget about fad diets and stop focusing on what you can’t have. Here are 5 positive things that you can do to influence your health for the better this year, why don’t you try even one of them?
1. Start as you mean to go on with a good breakfast
Breakfast is often considered the most important meal of the day, yet one many give little consideration to, grabbing a piece of toast or fruit, or a quick bowl of cornflakes. Breakfast doesn’t have to be at “breakfast time” – you should eat when you are hungry, but it should be something healthy and always include a protein source. A handful of nuts and seeds on your porridge or overnight oats is a good start, Check out my Healthy Breakfast Ideas for more inspiration.
2. Have a portion of salad with every meal
Eating more vegetables is one thing that virtually all of us would benefit from. They are full of essential vitamins and health protecting phytonutrients and antioxidants. A really easy way to increase your vegetable intake is by adding a salad starter or side to every lunch and dinner. This has the added benefit of providing you with some raw veggies, which we often don’t get much of during the winter. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated – a simple bag of rocket and/or spinach from the supermarket will do. Take it to work and have a bowlful with your sandwiches, and make it taste nice with a dressing of olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Or, if like me you can’t stand cold foods in winter, you can wilt a handful or two into hot food like soup, pasta, stews and curries.
3. Learn to cook just one new thing from scratch
Home-cooked food from scratch is always going to be more nutritious than the shop-bought equivalent: ingredients are fresher and better quality, you will likely use a lot less salt and sugar, and you won’t add flavourings, colourings or other preservatives. But we all have busy lives and are in the habit of buying ready made foods to make things easier. However often it is easier and less time consuming than you think to make things yourself. This January, what about learning to make just one new thing from scratch, that you usually buy ready made? It could be a full meal – perhaps something you have as a treat like a curry or pizza; or it could be an every day staple like hummus or bread.
Check out these recipes for inspiration:
4. Eat at the table with your phone off
What we eat is very important but so is how we eat. If we eat on the go, while working or looking at our phones, we are in a state of stress and one of the things this does to the body is switch off the digestive system. We then try to push food through our digestive systems at a time when they are unable to receive it, which leads to poor absorption of nutrients at best and potentially digestive issues like cramping and bloating.
Instead take time to get into a relaxed state before eating, even taking a few deep breaths will help. If you live with other people, try to eat together at the table without your phones, and make meal times sacrosanct.
Read more about The Art of Mindful Eating.
5. Be kind to yourself
This is perhaps the most important of all.
We are all on our own health journeys, if you have set yourself goals or new year resolutions this year that is great, but remember to be kind to yourself if you slip up too.
We are often our own worst enemies, being far more critical on ourselves than we would be on others. Notice your thoughts and if you are being overly harsh to yourself. A good rule to keep in mind is that you should talk to yourself like you would a friend.
You could also try spending a few minutes at the end of each day reflecting on what has gone well that day – perhaps you cooked a nice meal, coped well with a difficult work meeting or remembered to take time out for yourself – and congratulate yourself for the achievement.
If you would like to learn more about what steps you can take to improve your health and wellbeing, contact me to find out more about what I can do to help.