Establishing healthy eating habits in the New Year


January is often considered a good time for goal–setting and forward planning. If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight, gain vitality or improve your energy, then these practical tips may help.

1. Enlist the help of a friend

Voice your goal out loud and make yourself accountable to someone else. For example, “I am not going to buy any confectionary or fizzy soft drinks from the vending machines this week.” You could ask a work colleague to check in with you at the end of the week to see if you achieved your goal.

2. Make use of Apps

I am currently using the Dry January App to track the days in January that I am not drinking. It is motivating to see the money I have saved and the calories saved too! You could also download the Couch to 5K training app if your goal is to improve your cardiovascular fitness, or try the Body Coach HIIT 10 minute workouts on Alexa by Amazon, if you own one? My Fitness Pal is a good free app to track your daily calorie needs based on your body composition (height and weight) and exercise or you could try Nutritics to analyse which macronutrients you are eating and where you are deficient. (Email me for a consultation if you need help with this). I often recommend to clients that instead of writing down their food diary that they photograph their meals and snacks throughout the day to show me.

3. Get rid of anything in your house that is not in line with your way of eating.

If you are embarking on Veganuary then having some enticing bacon in your fridge may prove hard to resist. Instead, fill your fridge with healthy vegan food such as mixed seed and nut packets, coconut almond butter, houmous and crudités or ‘Freaks of Nature’ puddings as a treat.

4. Set realistic goals

If you are more than a couple of stone overweight you want to give yourself at least 3 months to shift the weight, as it probably took the same amount of time to put it on. There is a reason that calorie-restricted diets don’t work and often people end up piling the weight on again. Any changes you make to your calorie intake will affect your basal metabolic rate, which is the rate in which your body burns fuel and utilises fat storage. This is because, like overeating, your body cannot differentiate between a positive or negative “stressor” and always looks to return to equilibrium. If you drastically cut your calorific intake to, say, 1000kcal or under each day, your body thinks there is a “famine” and to avoid ongoing stress will raise insulin output so that there is more sugar directed to your brain (the brain needs glucose to function) and divert energy away from your digestive system . This means that it takes longer to digest your food, you have reduced stomach acid and enzymes too, so less of your food nutrients are being absorbed. Insulin and cortisol (a stress hormone produced by the body) are linked, so as your insulin increases, so does your cortisol, which encourages your body to protect from future famine by storing excess energy as fat around your middle (as glycogen in your liver), so it can easily be converted into energy. In the short term, a calorie-restricted diet will result in weight loss, but this early gain is usually water loss (and excess ketones – magnesium, potassium and sodium) and lean muscle mass. The fat is ‘protected’ by your body in starvation mode. Long-term your basal metabolic rate reduces, as muscle is more metabolically active than fat, so it is easier to put the weight back on.

5. If in doubt, book a consultation with a Nutritional Therapist

Many people assume they ‘get’ healthy eating and that weight loss in particular is simply the result of eating less and moving more. If that was the case then everyone would be their ideal weight if they chose. As we know, in reality, it is a lot more complex. You need to take into consideration any pre-existing chronic conditions you may have, any medications you are taking, consider what life stage you are at and adjust your nutrients accordingly. You need to consider vitamin and mineral and gut bacteria imbalances and, if they exist, what caused them. How do you test for them? What physical, emotional or physiological symptoms do you have and are they interconnected? If so, which ones? What changes are you willing to make to your diet? Can you cook? What should you be eating and when? Why? All this can be overwhelming and that is where a registered nutritional therapist comes in, to guide you through the noise and help you achieve your goals quicker. If you are interested in booking an appointment, or would like a free 15 minute phone call with me to discover whether Nutritional Therapy could work for you, you can book here..