A great way to improve your health and wellbeing is to improve your nutrition.
The general consensus is that diet contributes to 80% of body composition outcomes, but more importantly, the impact nutrition can have to overall health is significant, due to our nutrition being the building blocks of each and every cell in the body.
As the saying goes, we are what we eat. So, with that in mind, I thought I would offer some ideas on how to ‘ditch the junk’ in your diet to get better nutrition and body composition outcomes.
- Firstly, set a time frame of when you want to start your health changes. Today? Tomorrow? Next week? You want to be mentally prepared to start and commit to this date.
- Focus on the areas of your life where you spend the most time, for example home and work. These are the environments you need to ensure are best set up for success. You may want to pre prepare before your start date. In the home you may want to enlist the help of your family and prepare them too, and start removing all unhealthy type foods from the household. If you aren’t comfortable in throwing away food, set your date for a few weeks and make sure you don’t purchase more, donate some to family, friends or a charity. In the work place, ask for the support of work colleges and ask them not to provide temptations and to appreciate your goals.
- If you are in a situation with minimal support, try to put all the ‘not so healthy foods’ out of site and preferably out of reach. For example in a high cupboard or another room where it takes more effort to access them
- Set yourself a plan for the week. This can be pre-planned breakfast, lunches, dinner and snacks. Try not to stray from the plan most of the time.
- Shopping from a list is a great plan and works well. Don’t buy anything that isn’t on your list due to temptation. It is a good idea to have a healthy meal or snack prior to shopping so you aren’t hungry and avoid the aisles that contain soft drinks, chips and lollies. As a general rule of thumb, ensure most of your food is from the perimeter of the shopping centre.
- Go out for treats. In saying this, it is still ok to have foods that you enjoy from time to time. Life is all about balance and if you restrict yourself, chances are you will give in. So rather than bringing foods into your home (usually in bulk), go out and enjoy something that gives your tastebuds a pleasure and really enjoy it. Occasionally this is a great thing to do.
- Eat slowly and enjoy. This is applicable to all foods. Take the time to eat foods and enjoy the flavour and texture. It takes up to 20 minutes for your brain to register you are satisfied, so by eating slowly you are less likely to overeat.
- Drink lots of water. Water is essential for our overall health and sometimes we feel hungry when we are actually thirsty. Have a big drink of water if you are feeling hungry, if you are still hungry then it may be a genuine need for food.
- If possible place your goals in sight, for example on the fridge or pantry door to remind you of why you are eating well and what the greater outcome is.
- Identifying emotions can also be crucial to change. Many people tend to over indulge due to emotions, for example reaching for the chocolate when feeling upset, cranky or tired. By being aware of the emotional trigger can help curb extra calorie consumption as we can identify the emotional reasons for hunger and implement strategies to help manage these away from food.
So, what foods should and shouldn’t be included into a healthy diet? Good health needs to be about balance, so generally I don’t ever suggest the total avoidance of any specific foods. However, your kitchen should generally be set up with quality healthy foods to be consumed the majority of the time. This includes a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables of various colours (plus frozen if necessary), quality lean meats, healthy fats (such as nuts, olive oil, coconut oil), dairy products and wholegrain products.
The amounts, timing and variations in types of foods differ from person to person, however, it is generally hard to overeat if you eat a balanced diet of fresh whole foods.
A very general guide of foods to avoid most of the time are the typical processed foods such as cakes, biscuits, soft drinks, lollies, white breads, premade sauces, alcohol and ice cream, just to name a few. These are the types of foods you are best to go out and enjoy occasionally.
So, with a few changes implemented into your lifestyle it is possible to change your nutrition without having to overhaul your entire diet. Please reach out if you are needing any advice or support.