Five Healthy Habits for 2017
2016 has almost come to a wrap, and a new year is just around the corner. And with a new year often comes reflection and planning. Reflecting on how much we have squeezed into one year, thinking back on all that we have accomplished, and planning to make this next year an even bigger success. Of course success looks very different from person to person, but one thing that people often think about when a new year is approaching is their health, and specifically improving their health. While I'm not a fan of quick-fix New Year's resolutions or diets that leave your self-esteem deflated and your appetite raging, I do think that if you are motivated by a new year, then this is a fantastic opportunity to harness that motivation, and turn it in to positive behaviour changes. Below I've put together my 5 healthy habits to work on for 2017, while these may seem all too simple, it's the basic everyday decisions or habits that make the biggest impact on our overall health.
1. Eat more vegetables
Eating more veggies is one thing we could all do to improve our health. Vegetables contain a range of different vitamins, minerals, and fibre, and because of these wonderful nutrients they help to reduce our risk of many different diseases. Vegetables are very low in energy, and quite filling, so they add bulk and substance to meals without making them overly rich or heavy. Vegetables are also super tasty, so get creative and keep trying different types to work out what you like and how you like them to be prepared. Read my article on how to make vegetables more enjoyable here, if you're looking for inspiration.
2. Sub out your meat for lentils 1-2 meals per week
Lentils are great! I've written about them before here, and you might want to have a read if you're not convinced. Basically, they are cheap, high in fibre (which is fabulous btw), packed with plant protein, a great source of low GI carbohydrates, and contain an array of health promoting vitamins and minerals. I'm not saying you have to switch all of your meat protein for lentils (or chickpeas, or beans) but if you swap one or two meals a week for a vego option, it will be good for your body, your wallet, and better for the environment.
3. Eat breakfast everyday.
We all know breakfast is important, but yet many of us don't make time to have breakfast everyday of the week. You might be skipping on breakfast because you don't have time, or thinking that it might help you to lose some weight. If you are rushed in the morning, there are plenty of quick options to take on your way out the door - overnight oats are great, or a smoothie. If you are skipping breakfast in an attempt to lose some weight, you are likely shooting yourself in the foot. Eating breakfast means that you're less likely to opt for the muffin or donuts with your morning coffee (or any other high energy options that are in sight), and sets you up with stable energy for a day of eating well. Aim for something with some wholegrains (weet-bix, oats, wholegrain toast), protein (milk, yoghurt, eggs), and fruit or veggies (banana, berries, grilled mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach), to leave you satisfied until lunch time.
4. Do a weekly grocery shop.
Doing a big grocery shop at the start of the week is probably the best way to make sure you'll eat well that week. I mean, how can you eat well if you're fridge and pantry aren't well-stocked? and we all know waiting until we're hungry to do the grocery shopping is a disaster. In 2017 make a pledge to do a weekly shop for everything that will support your intentions to eat well. Here is a list of my kitchen essentials if you're in need of some inspiration.
5. Turn the TV off at meal times.
When we think of eating better, we often think of the foods we should include in our diet, but how we eat is just as important as what we eat. If we are on our phones or watching TV during meal times, it's likely that there's more mindless eating going on and as a result we will tend to overeat, which leaves us feeling pretty crappy. Turn off the TV, set the dinner table, even light a candle if that's your thing, and slow dinner down. Make dinner a chance to have a conversation, and enjoy the food you're eating. If you start to slow your eating down, you will eat to your appetite and feel satisfied but not uncomfortable and overfull after meals.
What healthy habits are you excited to incorporate into your routine in 2017?
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- De la Hunty et al. (2013) Does regular breakfast cereal consumption help children and adolescents stay slimmer? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obes Facts 6: 70-85