It’s the beginning of another year and traditionally we’re all thinking about the same things: getting healthier, living better, being happier etc.
Here are 10 simple nutrition tips to get you started…
Every part of your body, from your skin to digestion, needs water to function at its best. After all, your body is about 60% water so it makes sense to keep your fluid intake up.
By drinking plenty of water every day, you’ll feel more energised and less likely to graze and over eat, because your body sometimes confuses thirst for hunger!
Aim for about two litres of fresh, pure water with the odd tea and coffee thrown in and even the occasional glass of wine! Steer well clear of fizzy drinks, squash and fruit juice. These are definitely not OK.
And if you don’t like drinking water – tough! Your body needs it.
Lay off the juice
And no I actually don’t mean alcohol. And I’m only going to say this once. Fruit juice is NOT healthy and forms no part of a healthy diet. While fruit itself is useful in moderation, fruit juice is always a bad idea.
Fruit juice is loaded with sugar (specifically fructose) and often contains as much sugar as a soft drink or even more! It also contains no fibre, so it doesn’t fill you up and you can keep drinking and drinking.
If you fancy something fruity (ooh err missus) then try cutting up some fruit and popping it into a glass or fizzy (or still) water with loads of ice.
Sugar is your enemy
It’s a current topic in healthy eating and as a general public we are starting to realise that sugar really is very bad for us.
However, the real problem is, sugar is sneaky! It’s in food you wouldn’t think of and in quantities you just wouldn’t believe. All that, and it’s not just the regular old white, granulated sugar that’s the bad guy.
Read carefully: ALL types of sugar are bad for you, “healthy”, natural, artificial or otherwise. So why is sugar so bad?
- Sugar makes us eat more.
- Sugar makes us fat.
- Sugar causes insulin resistance.
- Sugar increases our risk of chronic disease.
- Sugar impairs cognitive function.
- Sugar can be highly addictive.
- Sugar rots our teeth.
There are plenty more reasons but this should be enough to convince you that sugar should not be in your diet! At the very least start making a conscious effort to check out just how much sugar is in the food you are buying *and eating)
You’re NOT a cow so STOP grazing
It’s another simple fact of life. Cows have four stomachs, while you have just the one.
Our bodies are not designed to process excess food in the form of grazing or eating little and often. We need about five hours between meals for both our digestion and insulin control to work properly.
Snacking raises the body’s insulin levels, which can encourage fat storage, especially around the middle.
There are also a number of other problems associated with snacking: you’re always hungry, you never know when you’re actually full or really hungry; it puts your digestion under pressure and it’s bad for your dental health.
Try to avoid snacking at all costs and get yourself back into the trusty three meals a day eating pattern, which is much healthier for you and your body.
Caffeine is a stimulant. It can trigger the release of stress hormones and imbalance your sugar levels. It can also be addictive so the more you have, the more you’ll want.
However, it can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy diet. I always advise my clients to enjoy two cups or tea or coffee max per day. Drink it at the same time as eating then it’s part of your three-meals eating pattern.
The bottom line is alcohol is a toxin however you look at it. It’s also one of life’s little pleasures and personally I like nothing better than a glass of champagne (and yes, I’m a nutritionist – really).
The current government advice for regular drinkers is to give yourself, and your liver and kidneys, at least a 2-day break from alcohol at the very least, every week.
As a qualified nutritional therapist my view is the deal with drinking alcohol in a healthy way is drink it because you want it, not because you need it and of course in moderation.
So next time you reach for a glass of wine or something stronger – just check yourself and think if you really want it or are you in the habit?
It’s true – a balanced diet is the perfect choice in the long term. So when you’re dishing up dinner, try to think of your plate as a whole before you start.
By choosing a portion of protein, plenty of vegetables and a serving of ‘oil or fat’ you can easily create nutritionally perfect meals. Yes I mean perfect!
For example, try a large, varied salad (they’re your veggie content) with tuna (there’s your protein), olives and a drizzle of delicious extra virgin olive oil.
Use this winning formula at every meal your winning nutrition formula and you can’t go wrong: vegetables (LOTS) + protein (SOME) + oil (LITTLE).
This may not seem like a nutritional tip but believe me if you can get enough quality shut eye you’ll be healthier in every sense of the word.
A good night’s sleep gives your body the perfect opportunity to relax, repair, metabolise and detoxify.
You’ll feel more motivated and energised to enjoy life and have the get up and go to look after yourself and those around you.
Best of all it doesn’t cost any money, just a bit of thought and planning. Take a bath, don’t watch TV in bed, don’t drink alcohol too late and avoid caffeine after lunch.
One of the best ways to improve and maintain a healthy diet is to be as organised as you can possibly be.
This really doesn’t need to be complicated. Just plan your meals at the beginning of the week, write a shopping list and stick to it.
Ensure you always know what you’ll be eating and you’ll be less likely to be tempted by lazy meals or unhealthy snacks.
Don’t fad… Fix!
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, it’s that time of year when we are making ourselves promises to be better, healthier and happier.
And then 2 weeks in, 4 if you’re really determined, the righteous riff fades…
It doesn’t have to be that way. January is a great time to start these things but it’s how you go about it that makes the difference.
Doing a diet audit, choosing a plan, getting your support system in place and setting some achievable goals are all ways to ensure you can keep your new healthy eating plan in place and not just for a couple of weeks.
Getting your body back to factory settings is the very first step. Programmes such as Metabolic Balance or Nourish & Flourish are good options.
So if you are feeling the strain of the last few weeks of over indulgence (or your waistbands are), you have any questions about the above tips or you are ready to make a change and start feeling healthier and eating better, then feel free to get in touch.
Charlotte Hunter is a qualified nutritional therapist (BSc), and is a member of the British Association of Nutritional Therapists (BANT), the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CHNC) and the Naturopathic Nutrition Association (NNA).
Her mission is “…to give people that balance by enabling them to eat yummy food, and enjoy what they eat, whilst at the same time knowing they are giving their body what it really needs and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.”
Ultimately, healthy eating is all about choice and balance for Charlotte, who on the “down-low” loves the odd pizza with a glass of champers.
On top of all that, and running her own business, Charlotte has a husband and two young children, all of whom are coeliac and don’t do too well on dairy either, so she has family feeding challenges in spades – just like many of you.
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