10 Nutrition resolutions
1. Diet less – Yes, that’s right! Most dieters would admit that once the diet stops their weight returns or they put on even more weight than previously. In addition some studies suggest that yoyo dieting can be more damaging to your health than keeping your weight constant, even if it’s a few pounds over. Make small lifestyle changes (some suggestions below) that will help you to lose weight the healthy way and maintain the weight loss.
2. Get more sleep – Research has shown that sleep deprivation can affect your appetite. Interestingly, a lack of sleep decreases production of a hormone leptin (which signals that you are full) and increases the production of a hunger hormone called ghrelin. So to avoid the evening munchies that kick in around 10pm, go to bed instead!
3. Allow yourself a treat without guilt – There is nothing wrong with a treat once in a while. You shouldn’t be so strict with yourself that you avoid all foods that you find indulgent and pleasurable. It's good for your morale to continue enjoying these foods, just be sensible about the quantity you eat. Try to only buy treats in single quantities... especially if you’re not one for ‘savouring the taste’ or you’re likely to devour a pack of biscuits all in one go.
4. Drink plenty of water – Our kidneys do a very good job at detoxifying our bodies but we should be aiming for between 6-8 glasses of water a day to avoid dehydration, which can cause mental and physical lethargy – something to avoid if you’re likely to suffer from Christmas post holiday blues! By the time your mouth is dry and you’re thirsty you are already dehydrated so try not to get to this point in the first place.
5. Eat 5 a day – Survey stats show that in the UK on average men and women eat approximately 3.5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day. However, we should be aiming for at least 5 so try and add another apple to your daily diet or add a small salad to your evening meal or a lovely bowl of roasted vegetable soup in the winter (try this yummy one by Jamie Oliver). If you’re confused about what constitutes a portion of fruit or veg, see our What is a Serving? article, or visit the Food Standards Agency, Eat Well, Be Well.
6. Switch to wholemeal/whole-grain – Aim for small changes such as changing white bread (which releases sugar into the blood quickly) for wholemeal bread (releasing sugar more slowly into the blood) and try eating wholemeal pasta and brown rice. These changes provide many benefits; whole grains are high in vitamin E and fibre and the control in blood sugar that these foods provide will also help to manage food cravings.
7. Eat breakfast – Studies show that people who skip breakfast are likely to consume a higher calorie intake over the day despite missing a meal. Eating a healthy breakfast each morning is a good way to kick-start your metabolism and can help you reach your recommended daily calcium intake! It's also a good opportunity to have one of your 5 a day.
8. Think before you eat – Just learn to be a bit more disciplined. Are you really hungry? If so think about what you eat... something small and sugary or ‘empty calories’ will not be filling and will have you hungry again very quickly. If you are searching for food through boredom then get busy – look for something to do, not something to eat!
9. Take your time to eat – When you’re eating it takes time for your brain to receive messages that you are full. Gut hormones are released during a meal as you stomach becomes full and distended. These hormones send satiety signals (signals of fullness), which prompts meal cessation. If you eat too quickly you may easily go beyond the point of fullness, before the stop message gets through, and subsequently end up feeling uncomfortable and bloated.
10. Exercise more – Not strictly nutritional, but exercise and nutrition go hand-in-hand when it comes to keeping healthy! Over the last 15 years the Department of Health has been recommending 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 times a week. This can include brisk walking, gardening and housework. However, experts now believe you should aim for more vigorous activities for optimal health such as jogging and cycling. So how about swimming once a week to help get you into shape after eating too many mince pies and before you get started on the Easter eggs?