Healthy Eating – Beyond a New Year’s Resolution
Wednesday, 19 December 2018
It’s 2019, a new year and a fresh start. As festivities start to wind down there is time to catch your breath and focus on you and your health. This shouldn’t be a fleeting thought nor should it be something that only lasts a month or two. Think bigger than a new year’s resolution, think healthy habits!
Most new year’s resolutions have fallen flat by February. This can be because your resolution was too vague. For example, if you set a goal to eat more veggies, you also need to plan how you will achieve this. Give yourself a timeline and plan how many veggies you want to be eating per day, by when. If you don’t know exactly what you want to do, it can be hard to achieve it.
Sometimes we feel overwhelmed. Big scary goals can be hard for anyone to achieve and are just not realistic. If you are happy to go at a gentle pace, divide one big scary goal into a few smaller more manageable goals.
At other times we might not be ready to make a particular change (just yet). Before setting a goal think about a scale from one to 10, with one being absolutely not ready and 10 being completely confident. Where would you sit with that goal – think in terms of how ready you are, how confident you feel and, do you have all the knowledge and equipment to get started? If you score below seven on the scale, it might not be the right time. It may be worth setting a different goal for now.
Rather than a resolution, consider building a healthy habit instead. To do this, ensure it is something you will enjoy and that can fit into your everyday life. No matter how big or small, overtime it will add up to great benefits for your body.
If you are wanting to eat healthier, below are some ideas to get you started for 2019! Once you have achieved these goals, keep going but add others on top.
January: Drink up – water that is. Hydration can help your body work better overall. Approximately two litres of water is recommended per day. Although this can also depend on factors like weather, activity and medications. You may choose to work up to this such as adding an extra glass or two per day each week. By the end of the month you would have already reached your two litres per day. If you need a little help try adding a mix of mint, cucumber and strawberry slices for refreshing flavour.
February: Add an extra serve of non-starchy or salad vegetables to your plate at lunch, dinner or beyond. If you want to cut down on prep time frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh. If you are worried about the taste, incorporate them into your dishes by adding them to stir-fries, casseroles, bolognese, sandwiches or wraps.
March: Swap your bread and cereal to a wholegrain option. When it comes to breads better choices include dense grainy/seeded breads, pumpernickel or authentic sourdough. For cereals look for traditional rolled oats or steel-cut oats, wheat or oat bran cereals or natural muesli.
April: Double check your meal timing. If you skip meals or graze over the day aim for more structure. This may include three main meals and perhaps snacks in between if you want and/or need them.
May: Enjoy two serves of fruit each day. A serve is equal to a medium apple or orange, two small fruits like apricots or plums or one cup of canned fruit. If you want to spice your fruit up for summer try fruit kebabs on the bbq. Stone fruits work well and a little cinnamon can add a hint of extra flavour.
June: Review your pantry. It is tempting to rely on convenience or take away foods when you don’t have a well-stocked pantry. Make sure you have canned or dried legumes, canned fish and vegetables (no added salt), wholegrains and herbs and spices stocked at all times. Frozen bread and vegetables are also handy to have in the freezer.
July: Switch to healthy oils. Try ditching or reducing animal fats like butter in preference for healthier plant based oils such as olive oil or avocado, both are delicious on a slice of toast.
August: Go meat-free at least once a week. Legumes and lentils are a fantastic source of fibre and nutrition. They soak up flavour so can make a great meat alternative or extender. Add three bean mix, lentils or chickpeas to your favourite stir-fries, curries, casseroles, soups and salads.
September: Eat out less often. When you eat out you tend to eat more fat, salt and refined carbohydrate compared with cooking at home. If you are eating out more than once a week consider quick, healthy and easy at-home alternatives like a homemade veggie pizza on wholemeal pita bread or a lean burger on a grain roll.
October: Add herbs and spices. Experiment with herbs and spices for flavour rather than relying on added salt or sugar. For a little sweetness cinnamon and nutmeg work well. A little cayenne pepper and chilli can create a spicy dish. A mix of cumin, coriander, chili, turmeric, ginger and cardamom will create a delicious curry flavour.
November: Snack right! Re-evaluate what foods you are snacking on. Remember cakes and biscuits (even plain sweet biscuits) give you little nutrition and may be taking the place of more nutritious options like fruit, grain crackers and yoghurt.
December: Reduce alcohol intake. It is generally recommended to have no more than two standard drinks per day, ideally with some alcohol free days over the week. If you are not ready to meet these recommendations straight away, try reducing your intake by one drink per day or even switching to a low alcohol version. You’ll be taking leaps in the right direction.