Estimated time to read: 5 minutes
Thinking of getting into shape in January 2017?
Our resident blogger Andrew has a first class degree in Sport Science and a Master’s degree in Exercise & Nutrition, so he is the perfect person for offering advice on making a new start in the New Year and achieving your New Year resolutions…
With so much diet information available on the internet, in magazines and books, it can be extremely difficult to know where to begin. Whereas in the past, it often proved difficult to find the information that you needed, these days there is so much information that it is very confusing and overwhelming.
The best place to start, is to set out your goals.
Before delving into the confusing and often very contradictory world of diets, nutrition and fitness-related lion memes, decide specifically what you want to achieve.
For more information on how to set and organise your goals, see our previous post about goal setting.
Diets work for some people, but according to Psychology Today, around 95% of people who lose weight on specific diets will regain the weight within 1 to 5 years. Rather than approaching a change in eating habits as a diet, think instead of a healthy eating programme or lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle change is much more, well, healthy. Fad diets on the other hand can be promote a less sustainable and nutritious attitude towards food.
Start in the house, then in the supermarket. If you are committed to a new way of eating, then you need to make sure there is no unhealthy food in the house. If you have to, give your high calorie, processed foods to a charity or the local food bank.
When food-shopping, make a list and stick to it and don’t shop whilst you’re hungry. Your healthy shopping list should include things like fruit, vegetables, meat & fish, oats, eggs and nuts.
“All disease begins in the gut”
The digestive system is often referred to as the “second brain” and gut health is an often overlooked element of weight loss and general well being. Taking care of your gut is crucial for a healthy immune system, mental clarity, maintaining energy levels and healthy eating habits.
Inflammation often starts in the gut. In turn inflammation is now linked with more and more physical and mental health conditions, including low energy and depression. This often leads to a vicious circle of emotionally driven unhealthy eating habits which can lead to obesity and further levels of fatigue and lack of motivation. If you want to make a thorough attempt to adopt a new, healthy eating lifestyle, then start with gut health.
To reduce any possible inflammation in the gut or gut lining and to ensure an optimal balance of gut flora:
If you make one change to your diet, eating whole foods (rather than processed foods) will revolutionise the way that you eat.
Whole foods are unprocessed and unrefined. Make simple but significant changes to introduce whole foods into your diet. For example, snacking on fruit rather than sweets and chocolate, cooking main meals from scratch rather than eating any ready-made foods. This obviously requires more effort, but you can easily get around this issue by making large batches and freezing individual portions.
Too many dieters look at the calories, rather than the ingredients. If there are lots of chemical-sounding, unpronounceable names on the ingredients list, steer clear.
Consider how you eat, as well as what you eat. One of the best and most simple tips for avoiding over-eating is “Don’t eat whilst watching TV”.
The problem with eating whilst watching TV, is that you are not fully conscious of what you are consuming. Your brain literally doesn’t register that you are eating. In fact, a study from the University of Liverpool found that eating while watching TV or sitting at a desk leads to an increased consumption of calories. In addition, the study found that eating whilst distracted had an even bigger effect on the number of calories eaten in the meals later that day.
In contrast, mindful eating involves paying attention to why you are eating, what you are eating and where the food came from. Similar to saying grace before a family meal, mindful eating gives you an appreciation of the food, as well as the effort that has gone into getting it on your plate. Consider putting your fork down between mouthfuls, and take your time eating and chewing.
The fitness and sports nutrition industry has really taken off in the UK over the last 5 years. Like diets however, I would recommend avoiding the majority of diet foods and supplements. Again, opt for whole foods whenever possible.
Consider what you are training for too. If you want to lose weight for health reasons, then it’s generally best to stick to whole foods and avoid supplements (with the possible exception of fish oil). If you are a competitive athlete or looking to bulk up, then supplements such as whey protein and creatine may be of value.
For those people looking to lose body-fat, consider drinking green tea. It contains a number of compounds that improve health, including the antioxidant with the catchy name of Epigallocatechin Gallate – proven to help prevent everything from heart disease to stress. The same antioxidant may help to increase your metabolism, which in turn stimulates the burning of calories.
Finally, consider getting an app that will help you to plan and create healthy meals. This is especially helpful with shopping lists, meal planning and recipes. Planning your meals is crucial, especially when you begin a new healthy eating programme. Without any planning, you are far more likely to impulsively eat unhealthy food.
If you are looking for a holiday in the UK, remember that a number of our resorts and parks include state of the art gyms & fitness clubs, with qualified fitness instructors who will be able to help with your new year’s fitness resolutions.
*Disclaimer – this post is for information purposes only. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet.
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