No doubt you would have heard the “new year, new me” mantra chimed by your friends, your mothers and quite likely some gym membership campaigns. New Year’s resolutions can vary, but the majority are around becoming a better and healthier you, whether that be to lose weight or swap old habits for better ones! However, even with the best will in the world, many will be abandoned after a month.
The key is to think about some realistic, long term lifestyle changes that fit well to you and your lifestyle. After all, there is no point saying you will run 5 times a week when you currently don’t leave your sofa after work!
According to researchers at Duke University, habits account for about 40 percent of our behaviours on any given day. So, it’s not about creating a whole new you, it’s about capitalising in on habits you already do - looking at which habits are serving you, which habits are not.
So let’s keep it simple. Many of us are hitting the end of January and realising we may still not have hit the targets we set for ourselves, so why not reframe them and make it all a little easier and more realistic? Below are some suggestions for changes you could make to your diet and lifestyle to boost your overall health and wellbeing. Why not try some of the below goals for the whole of 2022, not just January?
UP YOUR FIBRE
- Bulk out your meals with vegetables (keep the skins on if possible!), beans, pulses (like lentils and chickpeas) and opt for wholegrains (think wholemeal bread, pasta and rice). This can help you to stay fuller for longer.
- Aim to include at least one meal each day contain complex, wholemeal carbohydrates – e.g. porridge oats for breakfast, a wholemeal bread sandwich at lunch or brown rice with your dinner.
- Good hydration is vital for your brain and body to work at their best. Aim for 6-8 glasses of fluid a day (about 1.5 litres), this can include water, milk and no added sugar drinks, including tea and coffee. Fruit juice should be limited to 150ml a day.
- Have a glass of water first thing in the morning after you wake up.
- Have a glass of water with each meal.
- Invest in a reusable water bottle and aim to fill it up at least twice a day.
EAT MORE PLANTS
- For a healthier you and the planet, incorporate more plant- based protein into your diet, e.g. beans, peas, lentils, tofu. These can be higher in fibre and lower in saturated fat than some meat.
- Go half and half. Try making meals half plant-based and half meat at least once a week, e.g. 50/50 lentil and mince shepherd’s pie, or Bolognese.
- Have at least one meat free meal a week. If you like to eat out with friends and family, can you join in on #MeatFreeMonday? A lot of food places take part in this. Could you commit to doing this in your own household?
HOORAY TO 5 A DAY
Try to get your 5 a day and include a variety of differently coloured fruits and vegetables.
- Increase your veg intake by making sure half of your plate is made up with vegetables.
- Plan your weekly meals to ensure you reach your 5 a day every day.
- Try a new fruit or vegetable each week in January.
- Add fruit to your breakfast in the morning.
BE SNACK SAVVY
Snacks can be incorporated into a healthy diet but it’s important to avoid having too many snacks which provide no nutritional benefits or ones that are high in fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt.
- If you currently have 2 biscuits
with your cuppa, reduce this to 1 or, even better, limit having biscuits with your tea to 2 days a week.
- Opt for: Fruit and vegetable sticks with low fat dips or hummus, low fat yoghurts, unsalted nuts (25-30g portion), wholegrain crispbreads, oatcakes or rice cakes, low fat dips and humous
TAKE SCREEN BREAKS
Reduce the amount of time you spend sat staring at a screen, whether that be endless hours of scrolling your phone, watching the TV or sat at your desk.
- Take 1 hour before you go to bed to do something different, e.g. read a book or do a puzzle.
- Try and get away from your desk in your lunch breaks and take regular breaks.
STEP IT UP
Get out walking regularly with friends, family or a local walking group. Ideas for how to increase your step count include:
- Go for a 10-minute walk 3-5 times a week. Gradually increase your walk by 5 minutes bi-weekly, until you reach 30 minutes, 5 times a week.
- Aim for 10,000 steps a day. Or add on 2000 steps to your current daily average if you are not reaching 6000 steps a day.