You’re eating healthier, exercising more, drinking less, and generally feeling a lot better in yourself. The New Year is a great time to change your lifestyle for the better, and you may even find that you’re better off financially! But what else can you change about what you were doing previously that will make you better off for a sustainably healthy 2016?
1. Shop smarter
Do you do all your shopping from the same supermarket each week? Well, you shouldn’t. Shop around and you can get much higher quality foods from locally sourced suppliers. Get your meat from a butcher, fish from a fishmonger, fruit and veg from a greengrocer, and much more from a local farm shop.
Also, if you eat a lot of meat then you can buy it in bulk either at your local butchers/farm shop, or online at certain websites, and it will work out a lot cheaper than in any supermarket! They are also guaranteed to be much better quality. The same applies with fish and if you buy a whole fish from your fishmonger, they will happily portion it out & de-bone it for you.
2. Include protein with your breakfast
The most common meal to be neglected of protein is breakfast. Research shows that having a high protein breakfast (before or after exercise) improves protein synthesis, improves food choices, suppresses appetite and curbs sugar cravings later in the day compared to a typical carbohydrate based breakfast. So ditch the cereal and toast with jam, and opt for either some eggs, Greek yoghurt, cooked ham or smoked salmon, or if you’re on the go grab a Big Whey.
3. Frozen fruit and vegetables are just as good
A lot of people suggest that fresh fruit and veg are better than frozen, however this is not entirely true. Fruit and veg keep their nutrient values when frozen and how much of them your body absorbs depends on your cooking methods (see next point). Most vegetables are not physically altered before being frozen (except for chips), therefore they contain all their nutrients, however fruit may have their skins removed so they will lose some of their vital nutrients such as fibre and vitamin C.
Fresh fruit and vegetables can go off quickly too, so don’t buy too many as it’ll be a waste of money. Ideal for freezing include fruits that you’re not likely to eat their skins (mixed berries, pineapple, mango), and vegetables that you’re not likely to use too often (sliced mixed peppers, peas, green beans).
4. Steam your vegetables
As previously mentioned how you cook your food will influence its nutritional value when you eat it. Steaming food, typically vegetables, is a healthier alternative to boiling or microwaving because it uses less water and helps retain a lot more nutrients. If you’re making a soup then you can boil the veg as all the nutrients in the water will be used in the soup.
5. Miss the bus and walk
If you get the bus to a lot of places, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to improve your fitness and burn some calories by walking. Depending on how far you’re travelling you can walk some, if not all of the distance. For example, if you’re heading into town to do you shopping but can’t carry it home, walk there and get the bus back. Otherwise if you’re travelling quite far, why not skip your regular stop and walk to the next one, or the one after that. Improve your health and save some pennies at the same time!
6. Eat your food, don’t drink it
A recent systematic review and meta-analysis study has demonstrated that eating is better than drinking for improving self-reported hunger and food intake. The sensation of chewing increases gut hormone levels that are linked to improved satiety which may reduce total food intake, create an energy deficit and ultimately reduce body weight. Don’t rush your food when you’re eating, take your time, chew slowly and enjoy it.
7. Save petrol and cycle
Petrol prices are coming down (touch wood) but this doesn’t mean you should drive everywhere, especially to places like the gym! If you have a bike or need something to encourage you to do more exercise, cycling to the gym can be part of your workout. You can also cycle to work, your friend’s house, the shop, or even just for fun at the weekend. Your body and wallet will thank you for it.
8. Disguise your portions
Portion control can be one of the hardest parts of dieting. So why not disguise this by changing your crockery? Visualisation is a powerful thing and you can trick yourself (or somebody else) into thinking you’re full by serving meals on smaller sized plates or bowls. You are encouraged to clean your plate when you eat regardless of its size, so if you have a smaller plate then you will eat less and feel equally satisfied.
9. Chopsticks for forks
As previously mentioned about chewing your food for longer to satisfy your hunger, using chopsticks is another great technique to eating slower and putting less in your mouth. You’re unlikely to get anywhere near as much food between your chopsticks as you would on a fork, so if you’re having an Asian style dish give chopsticks a try.
10. Don’t be lazy and take the stairs!
Doesn’t matter how many times you walk up them stairs never get any easier, but that’s a good thing for your fitness levels. Don’t be lazy and use the lift or escalator, instead climb the stairs and burn some calories. Climbing stairs burns up to 7 times more calories than taking the lift and it may not seem a lot, but you can burn 1-2 calories for every 10 steps you climb, and 1 calorie for every 20 steps down. Think how many times you go up and down your stairs at home…it adds up!