December in Australia: the start of summer, and the beginning of a whole lot of backyard barbeques, relaxing with a beer and a snag. This change in season also comes with the weight loss industry promoting their next big miracle, and the words detox, diet and cleanse are filling the media space, tea rooms and post-christmas coffee catch ups.
So before we go filling our trolleys with superfoods and looking for the next big thing to make ourselves healthier, here are seven tips to kick off 2017 the healthy way & prevent you from reading the same article in 2018:
1. Forget the words diet, cleanse, detox and superfoods.
The weight loss industry thrives on these terms. These words offer false promises and go together with food restriction, deprivation, guilt and unnecessary expenses. Nutrition is for life, not two weeks. It is not a one sizes fits all approach, and if you can’t sustain it, then it’s not right for you.
2. Clean out & revamp your pantry and fridge.
Clean out food that is past its use by date or you know you won’t use. Fill your pantry with staples such as canned beans, legumes and tomatoes, pasta sauces, stir fry sauces, herbs & spices, and some grains. Stock your freezer with frozen vegetables, lean meat, chicken and or fish. That way you will always have the ingredients to make a nutritious meal.
Plan you meals and snacks for the week. Make a shopping list, check your pantry for what you have and go to the shops to buy the rest. This reduces multiple trips to the supermarket where you buy more food than you need, therefore reduces food waste and saves you money.
4. Try not to label foods as bad or evil or as a cheat meal.
When you put this label on a food, it’s like we are trying to shame ourselves from eating it. In doing so, we often actually crave these foods more. We only have so much willpower and when we do eventually cave and eat, this results in feelings of guilt and worthlessness, all because we ate something nutritionally poor.
5. The same goes for calling foods good.
‘This food is good and therefore I can eat it.’ There is no moral ground when it comes to food, it does not define who we are. Food is fuel, it is nourishment and it is pleasure. Food is essential to life and you don’t need permission to enjoy it.
6. Don’t cut out food groups (unless medically necessary)
Cutting out carbs, cutting out dairy and going gluten free are all trendy. However, the research around nutrition strongly shows that including foods from the five core food groups in one’s eating pattern promotes health and well-being. Each food group provides different vital nutrients that your body needs.
For example, grain foods like bread, cereal, oats and pasta contain carbohydrates, protein, fibre and a wide range of vitamins and minerals, including iron and zinc which are particularly important in a vegetarian diet. Their fibre content makes them effective in weight management as they take longer to digest and create a feeling of fullness that discourages overeating.
7. Aim to fill half your plate with veggies
By filling half your plate with vegetables, you are more likely to meet your recommended 5 serves per day target. Vegetables are packed full of vitamins and minerals, and fibre that requires you to chew, keeps you full and prevents overeating.
Once again, thank you to everyone that has popped by Broccoli and blueberries in 2016. I really hope you do find my rambles helpful in some way.
I wish you the a safe, healthy and wonderful 2017. A year filled with smiles, laughter, fist pump moments and of course, delicious food.
Happy New Year!
This article was originally written for Medibank.be, and published as ‘The real way to slim down and improve your diet.’