With the New Year approaching and the Christmas fun and festivities behind us, we are all thinking about some changes we might make in the year ahead, whether it be to make us healthier, fitter, slimmer, more successful. So often with Resolutions, we take on too much too soon and then after a couple of weeks we get overwhelmed, throw in the towel and go back to square one. When it comes to good health and setting up real lasting changes, the best tip is ‘slow and steady wins the race’. Don’t take on too many changes at once. Try one small change at time and give yourself a chance to implement it fully. Did you know that doing something every day for three weeks, it becomes a habit? ! No doubt everyone would like to make 2016 a healthier one! Here we’ve laid out a list of our top suggestions for some very doable and easy to implement New Years resolutions for 2016.
Adding a good variety of colourful veg to your meals and snacks is going to give your body and mind a blast of the nutrients it needs to function properly. A perfect start to the year, after the over indulgence of the festive season. Start the new year with a good blast of veg to help detox your system. Smoothies and juices are a great way to pack in lots of nutrients in one blast. Greens, brassicas like broccoli and cabbage and sulphur rich foods like onion and garlic are going to do wonders for your liver health, after all that Christmas alcohol! Change your five a day to eight a day with at least five of those being veg. This doesn’t have to be as huge change from your usual meals or routine, at lunch maybe add a side salad or add extra veg to your dinner, try to make veg green and less starchy that bit later in the evening. At snack times, try raw veg sticks or slices of cucumber instead of bread or crackers, great with dips like hummus. Have a good variety throughout the week to ensure you are getting a good range of nutrients.
Adding more fruit, a good mix of different types and colours is going to give a great boost to your health, more nutrients will lead to more energy, better skin, brighter eyes, everything basically will start working better! Try and get into the habit of adding fruit or veg in to every meal and snack. At breakfast in a smoothie or fruit added to porridge, or try a smoothie bowl. At snack times add fruit too, maybe swap out your usual cracker for slices or apple instead, great with peanut butter! And remember changes like these are not about denying yourself, use fruit in desserts and treats, things like dark chocolate dipped strawberries or a nice banana ‘ice-cream’ are delicious.
This is a very easy resolution with great benefits. Water is essential for so many body functions and systems. Try to have at least 8 glasses of water a day. It is handy to carry a bottle around with you, in your bag or in the car or at your desk. If it is there in front of you, you are more likely to drink it. And if you don’t enjoy drinking plain water you could try sparkling, a good brand like San Pellegrino or you could add a squeez of lemon or lime, Cherry Active is another good option, very high in antioxidants, or make a nice vitamin water by adding a selection like cucumber, lime, mint to your water and let it infuse. There are some great bottles on the market now, for making this type of flavoured water, with a compartment for the veg and herbs at the bottom.
We already talked about veg above, but more specifically adding more green foods and drinks is going to be so beneficial for your health. These alkalising foods are packed full of nutrients, anti-inflammatories and antioxidants. Add green veg like spinach and kale to smoothies and juices or you could try a green powder like spirulina, chlorella or wheatgrass for an extra health boost. Lots of green veg and salads and juices and smoothies is going to have you bright as a button in no time 🙂 Juice bars are popping up everywhere now, if you don’t have a juicer yourself, you could try and build it in to your weekly or daily routine, if there’s a juice bar near your work or home. Maybe opt for a green juice instead of a coffee sometimes, it’ll give you just as much of a boost if not more!!
Our gut flora is not in the best shape at this time of year. Alcohol, antibiotics, sugary refined foods all play havoc with our gut bacteria, which when compromised has an effect on our health in general. Studies are now showing that our gut and brain are strongly connected and the state of our gut bacteria can play a huge role in our mental health as well as our physical health. What could be as easy as taking a course of probiotics to help repopulate the good guys, which will help crowd-out the baddies! Most health food stores stock these and will give you plenty of advice on the best ones.
Still on the subject of gut health, why not try out some mindful eating in 2016. Slow down, relax, even take a few deep breaths before you start a meal. Try to eat without distractions, mindfully, chewing your food more, each bite at least 20 times. All this will have serious benefits for your digestion. It helps to get digestive juices flowing and all your digestive processes working efficiently and will mean that you are getting all the nutrients from your food, absorbing them properly.
Fats have had a bad reputation for many years but now at last people are in agreement that fat, that is the good types of fats, is in fact good and necessary for our bodies and brains to function correctly. Nuts, seeds, avocados, good oils, are all extremely beneficial and can very easily be added into any daily diet in small amounts.
Spice things up
Adding more herbs and spices to your meals is a real easy resolution to make this year. These guys are great anti-inflammatories and antioxidants. It is as easy as adding them to your shopping list. Most supermarkets now stock fresh herb plants or why not try sowing your own, in a pot within view of the kitchen, so you can add them in to whatever you are making. With all their vibrant colours and wide range of tastes there is loads here to choose from, something to add to any dish!
As fats rep is improving, thankfully sugar is finally being shown up for the trouble-maker it is. A great way to cut down on sugar is to make your own cereals, bars, treats at home, that’s way you know exactly what is going in. Using things like fruit, nuts, nuts butters, dark chocolate, a whole range of delicious sweet treats can be made without being laden with sugar. ‘Hidden sugar’ is a big topic right now. The trouble is with so-called ‘healthy foods’ like fruit yogurts, cereal bars, granolas etc being laden with sugar, or sugar under a different name.The trouble with sugar is that it sets your blood sugar spiking high and then low and we can get into this cycle which in time can lead to weight gain and insulin resistance which in turn can lead to diabetes. Cutting out plain old table sugar of course is going to have great health benefits, but also watch out for products which contain these hidden sugars, which leads us on to the next point of reading labels.
Taking the time to inform yourself about nutritional labels and learning how to read them and understand them is one of the best things you can do. In today’s society we are so surrounded by packaged foods and at the mercy of their marketing telling us what they want us to believe, we need to take some of the power back ourselves and gain some knowledge and be able to decide for ourselves what is the right choice. As an experiment compare the nutritional labels on some products, say porridge oats versus a granola and compare the amounts of sugars, you will be surprised. A general rule of thumb when it comes to reading labels is the less ingredients, the better.
On a similar topic, reading up more on food and doing your own research is a great way to empower yourself on all things health and nutrition. It is now being proved that we literally are what we eat. We need to get more curious and knowledgeable about the foods we are putting into our mouths, where they come from and how they are made. And not just keeping taking the word of the food companies themselves and their marketing people. There are endless books available on the subject of food, nowadays there’s always newspaper articles, movies and documentaries, as well as some brilliant TedTalks that will really get you thinking about what you are eating.
More and more now you will hear talk of ‘allergens’ and restaurants are now even detailing them on their menus now which is quite handy if you are trying to avoid them. Wheat, Gluten and Dairy are the main allergens people are avoiding, as many studies are showing them to be inflammatory to our bodies. Even if you are not allergic or intolerant, it would be beneficial for your body and health to cut down on these food groups. This might even start happening without you realising it if you are adding in more of the good stuff.
Remember – don’t focus on what you have to cut out but more what you can be adding in to your diet. The more of the good will leave less room for the bad stuff.
A very happy and healthy New Year to you all!!