One of the biggest vows we make come New Year is to improve our diet. Yet despite these good intentions, why is it so hard to stick to? Some of the main reasons include confusion about food labelling, stories in the media about what’s good and bad and choosing convenience food out of habit.
But don’t let these hinder your healthy eating resolution; these 10 steps are easy to follow and will help keep you on the right side of the scales. Why not print it off and stick it on your fridge?
Your main energy source for meals should be based on starchy foods such as rice, pasta, potatoes and bread. So as an example that could mean cereal for breakfast, sandwich for lunch and rice, pasta or potatoes for dinner.
You know the drill – it’s five a day for your fruit and veg. But did you know that steaming your veg is better than boiling it? You should also eat your fruit and veg as soon as you can after cutting into them to make the most of all those nutrients.
Choose a high-fibre breakfast cereal to set you up for the day. Keep the skins on your potatoes and tuck into pulses, oats, rice and wholemeal bread for fibre wins.
Treat yourself to two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily. Mackerel, salmon, herring and pilchards are good choices. Don’t fry your fish though – grill, steam, poach or bake it.
Cut down on red or processed meat. Why not try a spag bol made with soya mince instead? When you do eat meat, trim off any fat and skin and pour away any fat after cooking. Cut out fatty types of meat like sausages, meat pies and salami.
Choose low-fat dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cheese (Edam and cottage cheese are lower fat options). When you’re cooking, choose unsaturated oils such as olive or sunflower. If you’re making a sauce, go for cornflour rather than flour and butter.
The easiest thing you can do for this one is not to add it to your food, either as seasoning when you’re cooking or sprinkling it over your meal before tucking in to eat. Salt is also abundant in ready meals, crisps and salted nuts. Leave them all out of your shopping basket. Giving your taste buds a break from salt doesn’t mean missing out on flavour – herbs, lemon juice, marinades and black pepper all add zest and plenty of flavour.
No doubt you’ll have eaten lots of desserts and chocolates over the holidays. It’s time to wipe the slate clean by cutting down on biscuits, sweets and pudding. Many ‘convenience’ foods contain a lot of added sugar so top up your fruit bowl and put the biscuit tin away. It’s better to cut down on added sugar products than those that contain natural sugars and other healthy nutrients such as fruit.
Aim to drink at least four to six pints of fluid a day. Water is best. The easiest way to remember to have a drink is to have a glass of water with each meal.
You may well be ready to give it a break after a festive indulgence of alcohol, which is good news. Take a look at our article about alcohol and units to understand what goes into your drinks and ways to cut down and keep track.
And here are three final tips to ward off an unwanted snack attack.
- Ask yourself this question: ‘Am I hungry?’ Really think about it – if you’re unsure, try leaving it 20 minutes. Then ask yourself again to see if you’re really and truly hungry.
- Think about when you last ate something. If it was less than three hours ago, it might not really be hunger. Maybe you just need a break to stretch your legs, or get a drink of water instead.
- If you really feel the need for a small snack to keep you going, have some healthy options readily available, like fruit – oranges, apples or a bunch of frozen grapes. Veg is good too – try some sticks of carrots, celery, peppers or cucumber to nibble on.