Small changes are manageable, these changes then become habits and then eventually just become part of your lifestyle
It’s Sunday evening and no doubt we are all pumped to be healthier starting from tomorrow morning. We all want to eat better, be fitter and feel amazing, but how do you go from intention to action? Our advice is small steps.
Eat more veg!
The whole world of nutrition is so confusing. We constantly hear advice of going sugar free, dairy free, gluten free, wheat free, fat free, food free! It’s a minefield out there. Skip all the confusion and overhaul your diet by eating more veg. Vegetables contain thousand of compounds that have disease fighting properties to transform your health.
Start simple by changing the ratio of your dinners, reducing the amount of meat and grains you eat and adding as much vegetables as possible. Introducing some on-trend cauliflower rice or courgette pasta is a seamless way to add more veg. For breakfast or on the go, a vitamix / nutribullet smoothie is a fantastic way to up your vegetable quota.
Cut out sugar
Aside from the wonders of vegetables the other clear cut nutritional advice is to cut out or reduce processed sugar. Where I get super strict is with the really bad stuff such as biscuits, fizzy drinks and chocolate. If these are part of your everyday life you need to make some changes. My advice is to go cold turkey. Try a trial of a week or 10 days and notice how much better you feel. This can be the motivation you need to quit them for good.
We all know the high levels of sugar and lack of nutrition in junk food but there is also the vicious cycle of eating them, feeling guilty, feeling sad and then eating again. Empower yourself my taking control and breaking the cycle.
Other culprits include shop bought sauces, cereals and flavored yoghurts. Always read the ingredients so you know what you are putting into your body. It may take longer to phase these out. For some an all or nothing approach does the trick for others slow and steady.
Here are a few no fuss swaps to instantly clean up your diet:
- Pick full fat unflavoured yoghurt over flavoured yoghurt/low fat yoghurt versions.
- Choose homemade granola, porridge, yoghurt and fruit, or eggs dishes instead of sugary cereals.
- Substitute avocado as a spread instead of mayonnaise, jam etc.
- Enjoy a healthy snack of some fruit, a handful of nuts or carrots and hummus over shop bought cereal bars or junk food.
Eat better not less
Focus on the amazing healthy food you can eat and eat plenty of them! All of your favourite dishes can be made healthy with some simple substitutions.
Getting to know herbs and spices will allow you to transform bland dishes into mouth watering masterpieces without having to skimp on the healthiness. Some fantastic books are Deliciously Ella, The Happy Pear Cookbook, Susan Jane White’s Extra Virgin Kitchen and The Derval O’ Rouke Cookbook.
It is important to find your balance. A restrictive diet isn’t sustainable or enjoyable so don’t forget to indulge. Try making some sweet treats using alternatives ingredients like coconuts, dates, nut butters and fruit.
Our biggest advice to people when they are trying to be healthier is organisation. Initially food prep can seem like a whole lot of hassle but be patient, it will all be worth it when you are feeling amazing. You never know you might even find a new love of cooking.
At the start, we recommend that you make a food diary where you plan your food ahead for the following few days. Outline what you are planning to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks and then shop accordingly. Doing a big shop can help prevent impulse buying when you are hungry
Become aware of your pitfalls and triggers. Plan ahead for the times when you are likely to grab junk food, convenience food or prone to make bad choices. Have healthy options on hand to prevent falling back into bad habits.
Make exercise fun
Exercise needs to be a priority in your life, with a minimum of an hour a day of activity. Nothing will make you feel better than noticing how much fitter and stronger you are becoming. It is also essential for strong muscles and bones and does wonders for your mental health.
There are so many options when it comes to exercise so mix it up and pick something that will work for you – Pilates, yoga, running, walking, boxing, maybe even camogie!
Be disciplined and commit to your routine and don’t let excuses get in your way. Finding a workout buddy, writing your workout plan in your diary or booking classes ahead of time are simple tricks to help you stick to your plan.
How we manage stress has a huge impact on our health, affecting our daily quality of life and our longterm health. Being stressed can also be the trigger for us to eat badly and go down an unhealthy pathway. Know what stresses you and start taking action.
Practicing mindfulness is a wonderful way to help you deal with what the day throws at you. You can attend classes but you can also find guided sessions on youtube. Instead of the final snooze in the morning take a ten minute window to set your mind for the day.
Get your body moving. Exercise will reinvigorate your body and get rid of all that adrenaline that stress pumps into your blood. Plan your exercise ahead of time and make it a priority.
Sleep and stress are so tightly linked. A good nights sleep can soothe the mind. Maximise your sleep by creating a calming night time routine like avoiding caffeine in the evening and switching off the tv or your phone 30mins before going to bed.
If you have lots of thoughts rushing around in your head, writing them down before bed is a wonderful tip I learnt to help quieten them down to help you sleep. Fresh sheets and a hot water bottle also help!