It’s that time of year again, new diets, old diets, detoxification, clean eating, New Year New You and ‘Dry January’… These are phrases I have been seeing repeatedly over the last week.
The New Year and the excess of Christmas all encourage us to make changes in our lives.
Making our resolutions
This can be extremely positive, however it can also be negative if resolutions are not sustained and by February we are back to our old ways.
How can we sustain some of the changes we have put in place? Dry January is a great idea but is it so good if people try to make up for their loss in the month of February?
Here are some tips on some of the changes you may be making and how to make them more sustainable:
Changes should be life-long; quick-fix weight loss programmes are doomed to fail because as soon as you go back to normal eating habits, weight will pile back on again. Improve your diet first and this can be done in steps and at a pace that is suitable for you.
The first week set a goal to increase your vegetable intake
Aim for 5 to 7 different types of vegetables a day.
You can easily do this by incorporating raw carrots, celery and peppers as snacks, eating more soup, adding vegetables to pasta sauces, stir fries, one-pot dishes are all good ways to add extra vegetables to your food.
The 2nd week look at cutting out foods that may be harmful
For example white refined products such as sugar and white bread. Replace sugar with dried fruits, fruit, small amounts of honey, maple syrup or xylitol.
Build each week on making changes
If you start to feel you are failing, take it back again and move forward when you feel ready.
By increasing vegetables and fruit, reducing simple carbohydrates, increasing complex carbohydrates, eating good quality proteins and fats and avoiding sugar, processed foods and fried foods you will be notice a difference in the way you feel and look.
This often can be the motivation to keep going.
Take the opportunity in January to not only cut out alcohol but to also eat foods that may support liver function. When reintroducing alcohol, try in February to create healthy drinking habits.
– Cut out alcohol 2-3 times a week and don’t binge drink at the weekends.
– Drink water: 6-8 glasses a day.
– When drinking alcohol have a glass of water in between drinks.
– To help curb the urge to drink either mid week or before going out, try drinking green tea – green tea contains an amino acid called L-theanine – it may have a calming effect on the body taking the need away to drink.
– Eat! Sometimes the need for alcohol is because blood sugar levels are low. In the evenings, eat before pouring a glass of wine, you might find your need for it has diminished after eating.
Liver supporting foods
Brassica vegetables – cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Swiss chard and Brussels sprouts
Spices and herbs – turmeric, cumin, rosemary, parsley and coriander (cilantro)
Increase protein – Good sources are: fish, poultry, grass-fed meat, beans, lentils, chickpeas, eggs, avocadoes, good quality protein powders, cottage cheese and plain natural yoghurt.
B vitamins – beans, pulses, lentil, wholegrain foods, poultry, red grass fed meat and fish are all good sources.
Minerals are important, especially selenium, Brazil nuts is a good source. Magnesium another important mineral, Epsom salt baths are a great way of increasing magnesium absorption.
Increase antioxidants – Eat rainbow coloured foods – peppers, beetroot, sweet potatoes, red, yellow, green peppers, green leafy vegetables, berries, kiwi fruit, apples, cherries… and so much more.
Sulphur rich foods – Garlic, onions and eggs.
Fibre – oats, brown rice, flaxseeds, fruit and vegetables.
Finally, be prepared
Clean out cupboards, throw out foods that are not useful, breakfast cereals, processed foods, sugary drinks, white sugar and bread and ready-made meals with sugar and additives.
Re-stock cupboards with healthy choices and options.
Make sure you have standby foods that can be whipped up quickly to make a nutritious meal.
Make life easy, begin where you are and don’t make too many big steps that you cannot manage
If you have never cooked, buy pre-cut vegetables; try ready-made healthy soups or quinoa options. A pasta sauce is a good start to cooking; all you need is a clove of garlic, olive oil, tin of tomatoes and some seasoning and herbs.
Master this and you will find this can be your base for cooking more recipes like curries, casseroles and stir-fries.
Invest in some cookery books – I like The Medicinal Chef – Dale Pinnock and The 10 Secrets of 100% Health Cookbook by Patrick Holford. Both books contain recipes that are extremely easy to make and provide a good balance of nutritious and tasty food.
Connect with Expert Natasha Alonzi.