Published on 1st January 2017


 

January is nearly over, the nights are slowly beginning to get longer, and spring is almost… almost… within reach. So how many of us have kept our New Year’s resolutions (well done all those who say ‘aye’), and how many can’t quite remember what promises were even made (‘err, yep’)? It’s easy to get swept up in the enthusiasm of the New Year and half-heartedly mumble a couple of things that you would like to change/achieve. But, actually, January isn’t always the best time for personal transformations – it’s dark, Christmas has drained our bank accounts (and our energy), and there is a strong desire to stay warm and dry.

It’s not that New Year’s resolutions are a bad idea – or that they don’t work. It’s great to have goals and aspirations, but some of us might be more inclined to stick to them if we start when we’re ready to, and not just because the calendar dictates it. Plus, we do need to make our goals achievable, realistic and measurable in the first place. Otherwise we’ll be lucky to make it past the first week, never mind the year. 

So, to those who made a resolution that they are now struggling to keep, we say: you’re in good company and it might be time to reassess your expectations. If you want to lose weight (a common goal at this time of year), set weekly or monthly targets rather than the generic ‘I want to lose weight’ or even ‘I want to lose two stone’, and partner with a friend for mutual support. If you want to start running and can’t find a willing partner, look out for a running group for extra encouragement. Run for a specified and achievable time or distance, and then aim for longer, again breaking it down into smaller daily/weekly/monthly targets. (You might also want to check out the running plan Couch to 5K which has been devised by the NHS to help get people off the coach and running in just nine weeks.) Importantly, whatever your resolution, don’t give up just because you’ve had a setback or two (or three, or four…). And, as mentioned already, decide if winter really is the best time to start a weight loss or running (or any other) plan – yes, a new year can signify a new chapter for some, but for others a ‘spring clean’ that extends beyond the home may hold more appeal.

Finally, for those of us who didn’t make any promises this year, there’s still plenty of opportunity to redesign our goals and make some positive changes; whether it be next week, next month, next season, or even later. And if you decide that health is on the agenda for 2017, then the following tips from these nutrition experts might offer some inspiration:

“Turn your dinner composition on its head and make vegetables the star of your dish and make the protein element (often meat) the ‘side’ accompaniment. All too often our dinner plates become unbalanced, with either meat (or maybe a very starchy carbohydrate food like pasta) the main ingredient. Vegetables are usually just considered as ‘something on the side’. We are faced with so many conflicting messages about what to eat to stay healthy, but one recommendation is championed by all: eat more vegetables!  Make veggies your hero. Jazz them up with a knob of butter or drizzle of olive oil, then add some zing with dried chilli flakes or some grated lemon zest.” Nicola Moore, Nutritional Therapist

“Practise hara hachi bu as the Japanese do! Eat to 80 per cent full. Eating less is associated with living longer and lower mortality rates from cardiovascular disease and cancer; and this may also help you with weight control. Practice mindful eating to help you do this by eating more slowly and chewing each mouthful for longer. Put your utensils down on the plate between each mouthful and chew at least twice as long as you would do normally.” Kate Delmar-Morgan, Nutritional Therapist

“Eat without guilt. Too many faddy diet tips make shopping and eating confusing. Eating a little bit of whatever you fancy won’t kill you as it’s a drop in the ocean of the rest of your life. It’s only when that bit of what you fancy goes from occasional to habitual that it becomes the problem. Enjoy a variety of foods that are brightly coloured and make you feel good when you’re cooking them and eating them. Reacquaint yourself with the pleasure of food.” Miguel Toribio-Mateas, Nutritionist & Functional Medicine Practitioner  

“The bacteria in our gut has become a very hot topic in both the eye of the public and under the microscope of researchers, and more and more studies are suggesting the key role they play in our overall health. We can change our gut flora within a day by making the right choices in the foods we eat. Focus on including fermented foods daily – I make my own as they are super easy to make [recipes in Christine's book The Gut Health Diet Plan]. If you cannot tolerate dairy then make coconut yogurt or kefir. Other great options are sauerkraut, kimchi and other cultured vegetables. You can also include raw miso, kombucha and tempeh. Aim for a wide variety of cultured foods to increase the diversity of beneficial bacteria. Fibre is equally important however to sustain a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut. Good sources of prebiotics, the food for your gut flora, include onions, garlic, legumes, oatmeal, bananas, apples, berries, leeks, leafy greens. Consider combining cultured foods with foods rich in prebiotics for a synergistic effect.” Christine Bailey, Media Nutritionist, Chef & Author 

“Work less, enjoy life more!” Amelia Freer, Nutritional Therapist & Author

 

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