Starting a healthy lifestyle can feel overwhelming. A simple search on Google for ‘healthy diet’ will bring you millions of results all stating different health crazes and diets, which claim to be the ‘best way to lose weight’. All of the conflicting health messages can be confusing and misleading to say the least! So I wanted to share of tips that I found helpful and that I may advise my patients when starting a healthy and active lifestyle.
- A healthy diet doesn’t need to be expensive-
Avoid getting warped into the world of ‘super foods’ and ‘fad’ diets. These are often expensive and usually have limited evidence backing their claims, in fact the term ‘super food’ was developed as a marketing strategy. Simply, focus on wholefoods and simple home cooking.
- Try to have more vegetables by filling half of your plate with vegetables for your evening meal.
- Try opting for leaner protein sources
- Swap crisps, biscuits and chocolates for healthier snacks such as fruit, natural yoghurt, and small handful of nuts or vegetable slices.
- Make small gradual changes improve your current lifestyle whatever your starting point may be!
Up hauling your lifestyle for a healthy one can feel like a marathon of a task, but you wouldn’t wake up one day and run a marathon…. You would start with smaller shorter runs and build your way up. Do the same with your diet! Avoid making too many changes at all once, such a big adjustment to your life can be difficult to maintain. Which may lead to relapsing and feelings of disappointment and inadequacy. Instead set 1 or 2 small targets at a time to work on at a time. E.g.
- I will swap my breakfast for a healthier one
- I will have 8 glasses of water per day
- I will swap one unhealthy snack per day for a piece of fruit
- I will reduce the portion of my evening meal
By making small changes and building on these, this will be a more gradual change, which you are more likely to stick to long-term. Stick to your 1 goal until this feels ‘normal’ for you, depending on the goal this may take a week or two ,up to a couple of months per goal.
- Include ‘unhealthier’ foods in your diet in moderation.
When your wanting to lose weight/ eat healthier is easy to go OTT and create unrealistic ideas of eating healthy. Lets use the example of biscuits. By telling yourself you will never eat biscuits again you are setting yourself up for failure. Instead consider how often and how many you may have at the moment and try to reduce it. Lets say your having 3 biscuits everyday at the moment. Your 1 target, (as per tip no.2) could be to reduce this to 1-2 biscuits per day. Once this becomes a habit you could start to reduce the number of days you have biscuits until these are included in your diet in moderation.
- Remember to stay hydrated!
It’s easy to focus on diet and exercise and forget about how important hydration is! We’re all guilty of forgetting to drink when were busy but making this one of your ‘small targets’ and allowing time to focus on this can encourage you to make staying hydrated a habit. Aiming for approximately 8 glasses of water per day.
- Set a target e.g. I will drink 500ml by lunchtime.
- Buy a pretty water bottle, that way you will want to carry it around
- Have a glass of water with every meal and snack
- Get active!
Whilst your diet is important for living a healthy lifestyle so is exercise! Depending on how often you’re currently exercising, trying to increase this to 5 times per week or, whatever amount you feel is realistic could help balance your calorie intake to expenditure.
- Set a goal.
Think about what your want to achieve, is it weight loss? To live a healthier lifestyle? To tone up? Set your goal with something that you can measure. E.g. if you want to lose weight set a target weight. If you have a larger amount of weight to lose try breaking this long term target down into smaller shorter term ones. A big goal can feel unachievable and far away, by breaking this down into smaller ones this can feel more achievable. If your goal is to be healthier think specifically about what you want to achieve. This could be to have a healthy relationship with food? To consistently meet your 5 a day? E.g. if your currently eating no fruit or vegetables and your target is it have 5 portions a day break this down into smaller goals and initially aim for two.
7. Track your progress!
Day by day it can be hard to see your progress. If your goal is weight loss or toning try taking a ‘before’ photo. If your target is to eat healthier, track your intake on an app such as myfitness pal!
Good luck in your health and fitness journey! I hope you find this helpful