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Every year advertising and well-meaning people promise the same thing – new year, new you! While most of us don’t even look up from the couch to acknowledge them, the new year is a fantastic time to start making healthy lifestyle changes.
Christmas is a time of overindulgence for a lot of us, so why not bounce back and start improving your health? The suns out, the weathers warm and it’s holiday time. Take advantage of the extra time off and make some changes.
While it may be expensive or too time-consuming to exercise as regularly as you might need to, it’s easy to make changes to your diet that will have profound effects on your health and lifestyle.
One of the benefits of most Asian foods is the use of fresh and seasonal ingredients and the general lack of processed foods. And eating fresh and healthy is no doubt very important, but just as important are your eating habits, namely when you eat and how much.
To help you get the new year started on the right note, here are a few tips to help you start eating healthier and improve your overall health.
To help with weight control and – most importantly – weight loss, we need to acknowledge and act on the feedback our body gives us about when and how much to eat. With how much time we have to devote to work, kids and activities out of our control, it’s also important to aim for a regular eating pattern of meals, or meals and mid meals.
A planned pattern of eating is more likely to include the recommended number of serves from the five food groups. A spontaneous, unstructured eating pattern is more likely to include too many discretionary foods which mean too much-saturated fat, added sugars, added salt and kilojoules at the expense of fibre and important nutrients.
So if you’ve got a bit of time this holiday season, us some of it to build a meal plan. Starting with the most important meal of the day.
Don’t skip breakfast
Breakfast skippers are more likely to be tempted by unplanned snacks or to hoe into large serves at the next meal. Just think of how yummy everything looks if you’ve missed breakfast!
People who regularly eat a breakfast based on wholegrain cereal or bread, low-fat milk or yogurt and maybe some fruit or vegetables are much more likely to be eating well and lose weight than those who skip breakfast.
If you struggle for time in the morning, try taking your breakfast foods to work and eating at your desk or pre-making your breakfast the night before.
Eat with other people, not TV
People who eat with others are more likely to eat regularly and eat well than those who eat alone or in front of the TV. Meals with others tend to include more foods from the five food groups. How many times have you thought “I’ll just get take away, I can’t be bothered cooking for myself”?
Television watching is associated with eating less healthy options, like takeaway or highly processed pre-made meals. It also makes it much more difficult to recognise and respond to our body’s signals about hunger and how full we are. Make time to eat dinner with others and you’ll start reaping the benefits.
Shop in advance
After you’ve built your meal plan, it’s time to go shopping! Shopping for the week rather than every day makes it easier to control what you’re eating and keep you away from temptation. Meats will freeze quite happily and vegetables will last for 7 days in your crisper if you take care of them. Plus, it can be fun to sit down and design your menu for the week!
The best way to keep things interesting is to eat fresh and seasonal produce. Talk to your greengrocer to find out what’s local and in season and your butcher and fishmonger to see what’s just come in and where it’s from.
Try to get down to your local market – farmers or otherwise – as you’ll get access to a whole raft of foodstuffs with very limited processing.
Hopefully, this will put you on the right track for the New Year!