New Year New You?
New Year, New you? Personally, I am a little fed up with the amount of promises I have broken to myself over previous new years leaving me feeling like I have failed, and now prefer to take better care of myself all year around. The problem with making New Year resolutions is they are often “big” promises and commitments that become difficult to stick to or achieve. I believe making, small, regular achievable steps towards a health goal is much more rewarding because it becomes more achievable and we don’t have to berate ourselves for “failing”.
January often provides an opportunity for change as we are motivated to start this year off better than how we left 2022. A very good place to start is using food as we face it every day, mostly at least three times daily so it is something worth paying attention to. What you put on the end of your fork can have a profound effect on how you feel. Are you aware of how certain foods make you feel? Do you feel satisfied and energised after eating? Do you know you could do better? If you are ready to make a few baby steps, I am here to share some top tips on how you can make a start and make some healthier choices and healthy habits stick…
I attended a lecture on blood sugar balance and pre-diabetes recently and recall the lecturer saying that after a meal you should simply feel satisfied and not hungry anymore. Sadly, lots of clients that I work with complain that they feel tired after eating and some get bloating too. This is a sign that something isn’t right. It can often come down to the balance of nutrients on the plate. We need a balance of protein, carbohydrate and fats to attain a balanced meal, the trick is knowing how much of each of these macronutrients to include at each meal.
Oftentimes, our food choices are determined by the amount of time we have. How many times have you grabbed a piece of toast for breakfast? I am not hating on bread/toast however, it really doesn’t provide a balanced meal but we expect it to keep us going all morning often resulting in lots of coffees and snacks.
Making a few healthy changes to the start of your day can make a huge difference to how you function during your day and at work. If your energy is crashing mid morning and mid afternoon and you have cloudy thinking or brain fog it maybe worth taking a closer look at what you are eating.
A Simple Exercise
I presented a lunch and learn for a big corporate recently and was amazed at how many of the team complained of fatigue and brain fog but then I took a sneak peak at their lunch options and found a table laden with fizzy drinks, crisps, sandwiches and chocolate bars. Now, I don’t mean to sound judgmental because I do enjoy a sandwich and bit of chocolate from time to time but I find that I am hungry again soon after that kind of food and notice that I feel less energised and fancy a nana nap mid afternoon.
Keeping balanced blood sugar is key if we want to remain energised and efficient during our working day and we can do this through making better food choices.
During my lunch and learn sessions I always get the attendees to complete a simple exercise. I ask them to write down what they ate for breakfast and lunch and dinner in a typical day and circle anything that was a fruit, veg or salad item. There are a surprising amount of people that don’t manage to make any circles in a day!
This is an insightful exercise and can highlight where we are missing out on vital nutrients that we need to make energy. We need folate, magnesium, B vitamins and vitamin C and fibre in regular amounts to keep us functioning and we can get more of these if we add more plant-based foods such as vegetables, salad, fruit into our diet. The added bonus of including a wide array of them in our daily diet is the benefit to our gut microbiome which is nourished by the fibre and polyphenols (colour chemicals in plant-based foods).
What did Tim Say?
Do you recall the “five a day” campaign? well, it turns out that is not nearly enough! it is a good place to start but we should ideally be aiming for 1-2 servings of fruit each day and more like 6-7 servings of vegetables/salad. Increasing our fibre intake from veggies can help us feel full for longer whilst nourishing our gut microbes. This had been shown to be an effective way of staving off cravings.
I had the pleasure of meeting Prof. Tim Spector recently and got the chance to ask him my burning question so that I can pass this on to my followers and clients. I asked him “if you could give one piece of advice that you feel would solve most of the UK’s health issues, what would it be” and he replied; “stop snacking and eat unprocessed food”.
Unprocessed food means food as close to you would find it in nature. For example, a corn on the cob is how it would look in the field compared to cornflakes or corn tortilla chips which have been heavily processed and sugar, fat, salt, preservatives and flavouring added. These ultraprocessed foods simply don’t resemble anything close to how they started out and are a big part of the snacking culture we find ourselves exposed to. We now have protein bars, snack bars, quick and easy snack solutions to “keep us going”, but it moves us away from where we need to focus; making real food using whole, unprocessed produce that provides the nutrients and energy we need and feeds into our gut microbiome in the right way.
Get Healthy Habits in Place Now
If you would like to know more about how to make healthier choices, improving your gut health, losing weight safely and with a long term goal I can offer you three options:
- Join my next Eat Better Feel Better online healthy eating programme
- Contact me for a friendly chat to discuss your specific health concerns/goals
- Arrange a private one to one consultation where I can provide a bespoke health plan for you.
Happy New Year to you. Here is to your longterm health and an even healthier, happier 2023.