The New Year is just around the corner, and while many of us will have the best intentions to be healthier or to lose weight, my advice is that we shouldn’t wait till the New Year to make resolutions – it needs to start now!
Being healthy is a lifestyle you need to adopt for the rest of your life… not just something you do for few months of juice cleanses or even giving up sugar. One reason why many people crumble at their goals to lose weight, for instance, is because they change everything too quickly, rather than focusing on making gradual small changes every week until it becomes a habit.
Nutrition isn’t as complicated as it is often made out to be. We should all take the time to think about what foods make us feel good and what foods don’t. Eat wholefoods and customise your own diet based on your unique needs.
So, to help fast track you on your health journey, I’ve put together seven easy ways to help you get ahead of January.
1. KEEP IT SIMPLE
Sometimes, a little less variety in your meals and sticking to what works can help you manage time and stay on track with your health or weight-loss plan. Pick two go-to healthy breakfasts, lunches and dinners that you know you can prep fast. Keep those fresh ingredients stocked in your fridge daily and you’ve saved yourself time and unnecessary take-out meals.
Most diet plans I read are way too complicated, costly and take too much time to prepare. The aim is to find one that's easy to follow and that uses fresh, wholefood ingredients.
2. TRY AN ANTIOXIDANT-RICH MATCHA TEA
Try a cup of metabolism-boosting organic matcha green tea. Simply have a 1/4 teaspoon with hot water and enjoy the benefits!
In fact, matcha contains extremely high levels of antioxidants as well as various compounds associated with improving health and gently supporting weight loss.
3. EAT PROTEIN
Eat approximately 80 – 120 g of good quality sources of protein, depending on your weight and activity levels. Studies show that eating protein will help increase your satiety, making you less likely to indulge in your unhealthy cravings and encouraging weight loss. Protein is also a vital nutrient for balancing hormones, supporting detoxification, digestion, lean toned muscles and supporting a healthy immune system.
Because I’m on the go most days, I use Healthy Chef Pure Native WPI or Organic Pea Protein, and blend it with add frozen berries, almond milk or coconut water, and some ice.
A small frozen banana can also be added for extra creaminess, and boosters such as Organic Superfood or Matcha Green Tea can increase fat burning. This type of smoothie will improve metabolism, nourish lean muscle, and keep your cravings at bay.
4. STAY HYDRATED
Make sure you’re drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day to detoxify and flush toxins out of your body. Water is vital for life and for all metabolic processes in the body. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime to the water for a refreshing flavour. Water will help get your lymphatic and digestive systems moving properly and will also assist in preventing gas, bloating and other digestive issues. Try drinking 2 glasses of water before each meal – it will prime your body for fat loss and stops you from retaining excess water.
5. NUTURE YOUR GUT
Unbalanced gut flora can have a detrimental impact your brain health, leading to issues like anxiety, depression, IBS and skin disorders. I regularly make my Polish Sauerkraut and enjoy other fermented vegetables such as kimchi or home made yoghurt to help nourish and restore beneficial bacteria in my gut. Supporting your digestive health is probably one of the most important things you can do for your overall wellbeing.
6. HAVE A BEDTIME ROUTINE
Establish a calming nightly ritual to help induce a restful night’s sleep. I like to turn off all electronics at a decent hour and take a warm lavender bath. It’s such a simple and indulgent home luxury that helps me unwind. Getting into this healthy habit now will help you manage your weight-loss goals after the holidays are over.
Lack of sleep increases your hunger hormone: ghrelin, that can make you indulge in unhealthy cravings. Leptin is another hormone that assists in regulating both appetite and metabolism. It’s manufactured in the fat cells and its primary function is to act on the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls appetite and the feeling of fullness. Studies show that many overweight people may have developed leptin resistance whereby the body fails to respond to leptin signals.
Lifestyle changes like getting enough sleep and eating the right foods can help to regulate leptin levels in the body.
7. MANAGE STRESS
Stress can lead to a suppressed immune response, sleep problems, unwanted weight gain and blood sugar abnormalities. Chronic stress can keep cortisol levels in the blood elevated for longer, which can contribute to weight gain by lowering the metabolism, suppressing thyroid function, increasing abdominal fat and decreasing muscle mass — all of which will cause more weight gain than you would normally experience.
My advice is to ensure you’re eating the right wholefoods that support your adrenals and boosts your mood. One of my favourites include cashews which contain the amino acid L-tryptophan which converts to serotonin in the body – a feel good chemical in the body.
Remember… Your body is a finely tuned machine that needs the right nutritional balance accompanied with adequate exercise and quality rest.
So, that wraps up my top tips on how to keep healthy for the longer term. It's all about making healthy habits and keeping them for life instead of making a few goals at the beginning of the year and then crumbling at the sight of that tempting cheesecake. At the end of the day, you have to make healthy a lifestyle, one that keeps you happy, healthy and unfazed by the latest health trend or quick fix diet.