With Summer starting in just seven short weeks, it’s a great time to rejuvenate your healthy eating and activity goals. We’ve identified some key long-term habits, choose one to action each week between now and those final days of Spring. Equipped with the strategies you need to make positive changes, improve your chances of putting these into action through the support of those around you. Why? Because committing to a goal with somebody makes you more accountable, but also, as people, we were born to connect. Having a sense of social connectedness tends to generate an ongoing positive loop of social, emotional and physical well-being and this sense of wellbeing will help to keep you moving forward in positive ways.
The research is actually mixed when it comes to breakfast and weight management. Ultimately you need to make the choice on a meal pattern that’s right for you. If you currently don’t eat breakfast, but still manage to eat a wide variety of foods and feel like you’re making good choices for the remainder of the day, then perhaps that’s a pattern you should stick to. But if you don’t eat breakfast and know it impacts your afternoon and evening eating, then you might benefit from regularly including this morning ritual. Starting your day with a small nutritious meal is a really good way to get three of the five core food groups in. Cereal with milk and a handful of fruit will cover it, as will toast with peanut butter, sliced banana and a small milk coffee. Breakfast helps to curb your hunger, and it also commits you to a regular meal pattern, research has shown that not skipping a meal can help you to avoid overeating later in the day, which has positive effects on your overall kilojoule intake.
Eat More Vegetables
Fresh, seasonal vegetables are an integral part of the Mediterranean Diet, a way of eating that has been shown to offer anti-inflammatory benefits, reduce the incidence of heart disease, improve the management of diabetes, and also help you to lose weight. Vegetables are low in kilojoules, they fill you up, they bring the benefits of antioxidants, as well as phytonutrients and prebiotics for good gut health. Good gut health is connected to having a diverse microbiome which means a large number and a wide variety of good bacteria in your gut. One of the ways to achieve this is to have a plant-rich diet, and of course, vegetables are plants. Vegetables should fill half of your plate at main meals, with one quarter for your protein portion, and the other quarter carbohydrates. Remember that the starchy vegetables such as potato, sweet potato and corn count as carbohydrates, so focus on green vegetables, red vegetables, the brassicas and leafy salads.
Have Healthier Food Options On Hand
Stimulus control can change your behaviour. If you move those high kilojoule, less nutritious foods out of sight, and surround yourself with healthier food options you will begin to change the foods you choose to eat. Having healthier foods available at home, at your desk, in your car or your bag for when you’re out and about, is all a matter of planning. Options such as fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, wholegrain crackers and unflavoured dairy foods will leave you feeling fuller for longer as well as giving you the benefit of feeding your body with the nutrients and long-lasting energy it needs.
Problem Solve Your Barriers
Many of us are resistant to change. Eating breakfast, eating more vegetables, having healthy foods on hand sound easy enough but these changes require decisions, effort and commitment, and sometimes we find barriers or blocks in our way. If you have decided on a change but find difficulty putting it into action, ask yourself why you’re not doing as you planned and take action to do it differently next time. For example:
- What could you do next time find yourself deciding not to bother with breakfast? You could make a smoothie if you need a breakfast on the go, make overnight oats if you don’t have time for prep in the morning, you could get up 15 minutes earlier and take the time to sit down and enjoy this meal.
- What could you do next time you feel like vegetables take too much time to prepare? You could buy prewashed salad ingredients, and simply add some fresh tomato. You could buy pre-cut stir fry vegetables to eat alongside your next meal, or you could quickly steam some fresh or frozen broccoli and cauliflower florets.
Drink More Water
Water is the recommended drink of choice, it keeps your body well hydrated and can also have an impact on how much you eat. As we fill our stomach, appetite reduces, especially if you eat slowly and tune in to how your stomach is feeling. There are a number of factors that contribute to the sensation of fullness – it can be the nutrients in food, for example protein has been shown to keep you feeling fuller for longer, but it is also related to the physical volume of foods and drinks in your stomach. A glass of water before a meal adds volume, and studies have shown it can reduce the number of kilojoules you eat at that meal.
See Yourself As Active
Getting back into planned physical activity after a long and cold Winter can be hard. Tracking your steps will give you a baseline to start from, then you can look for opportunities to do more. Aiming for 8000-10,000 steps is a good long-term goal but start where you’re at. Take your current steps and add ten percent each week, so if you’re currently doing 5000, add 500 next week – look for opportunities to be more active in your everyday life, park further away, stroll through the park in your lunch break, have a walking coffee with a friend. Once your steps stack up, you’ll begin to see yourself as more active and the positive effects will keep flowing.
See Yourself As Healthier
What you choose to see and believe, very often becomes your reality. It was Confucius who once said those who say they can, and those who say they can’t, are both usually right. Begin to see yourself as someone who makes healthier food choices, who prioritises physical activity as a regular part of your week, who makes conscious decisions that will benefit your health and wellbeing. And then when you’re ready to make that decision, call Jenny Craig for your own personal Coach who can guide you every week towards healthier eating and a more physically active lifestyle.