At the start of a new year we’re filled with motivation to finally sort out our eating habits, get fit and lose weight. We set New Year’s Resolutions, promising ourselves that this will be the year. But the question is, how do you actually start eating healthily in a way that is sustainable all year long? In today’s post, I share my tips on how to start healthy eating. Whether you’re starting for the first time or starting again after a break, I hope you’ll find these tips helpful.
1. Assess your starting point
What is your diet like right now? How well have you eaten this past month? How many times have you eaten out or ordered a takeaway? How many portions of fruit and veg do you eat each day? How many sweet treats, packets of crisps, baked goods and units of alcohol do you have on a daily basis? What is your weak spot, what are you most tempted by? When are you most likely to eat unhealthy foods, for example is it when you’re bored, stressed, upset or because you’ve gone so long without eating? I’ve created a Personal Health Assessment sheet, click to download and find out what your score is.
2. Give yourself credit
If your score from your Personal Health Assessment is less than ideal, don’t worry. You’ve already recognised that you need to make a change, you’ve already decided that you want to make a change. You’re reading this post because you genuinely want to start making steps to improve your health. Just deciding to start is half the battle, so you’re already on the right track. Putting yourself down and telling yourself that making a change is ‘too hard’ won’t get you anywhere. I promise you, you can do this.
3. Don’t change too much at once
Once we’ve decided we’re going to make a change it can be easy to get carried away and feel like we can change everything at once, but that can soon feel overwhelming. Khloe Kardashian took this approach in her weight loss, saying “I’ll do like one thing, like, a month. I’ll just cut something off little by little, and then it just becomes like a part of your life. You don’t even think about it”. It’s about establishing a healthy eating foundation that you can stick to long term and improve upon, rather than changing everything now and then falling back to your unhealthy habits by February.
4. Focus on one thing at a time
Use January to adjust your eating habits one area at a time. Spend one week focusing on swapping fizzy drinks and shop-bought fruit juices with water, that will in turn cut down on your calories and sugar intake. The next week tackle your snacks. If you eat 3 meals and 2 snacks a day, then replacing your snacks with healthy options will mean you’ve already improved 14 out of 35 meals a week. There are loads of areas you can choose to focus on one at a time, you could focus on condiments, portion control, swapping the oil you use to cook with, not eating out of boredom, adding more fruit and veg into your diet. Keep going like this until you’re healthy eating the majority of time with the occasional treat instead of eating majority junk food with the occasional vegetable.
5. Crowd out the junk food
If you currently eat a lot of junk food and processed foods then when you start healthy eating it may seem like there’s not a lot you can actually eat. Rather than focusing on what you can’t eat, focus on what you can eat. I used to eat whole bowlfuls of pasta and pile my plate with rice before adding the curry or stew on top. Now, if I’m having rice or pasta, I’ll fill half my plate with green vegetables then add the rice and curry. Vegetables are nutritious and filling and if you’re not a fan of the taste, then adding them to meals like this is an easy way to add them to your diet. Create colourful fruit salads that are Instagram and Tumblr worthy and fill up on fruit before you get a chance to miss doughnuts and croissants.
Related: 7 Ways To Stick To A Meal Plan
6. Make healthy eating fun
Experiment with new recipes, enjoy being in the kitchen and creating meals from scratch. Get creative with different herbs and seasonings. You may have been in a rut before, always sticking to the same meals and flavourings but use this time to experiment and don’t be afraid. Try new foods, find out which foods you love and which you hate. When I first started healthy eating I realised I hadn’t tried blueberries in years so I gave them a go and now I love them. One of my favourite snacks is yogurt (I recommend plain greek or coconut yogurt), with chia seeds, flaked almonds, blueberries and a squeeze of honey. The yogurt is a source of protein, the chia seeds and almonds provide healthy fats and the blueberries and honey provide a low-sugar sweetness that keep my sweet tooth at bay.
7. Eat foods you like
And finally, eat foods you actually like and enjoy. It sounds silly, but often if we read that something is healthy or we’re trying to follow a specific healthy eating plan, we’ll ignore our tastebuds and force ourselves to eat foods we don’t like. By all means, give everything a go. Like I said above, try new foods, but if you’re sure you don’t like something, don’t eat it! Just because someone said you should eat chicken and broccoli, if you really hate broccoli, don’t eat it! There are plenty, plenty more vegetables out there for you to eat and enjoy and they all have their own health benefits. If salad’s not your bag, try meat or fish with roasted veg instead.
The aim here is to be realistic, take it slow, experiment and have fun. I want 2016 to be the year you guys ignore the fad diets that restrict you to a total of 10 food items and promise you a whole new body in 2 weeks. Instead, promise yourselves that this will be the year you take control of your eating habits, put your health before results and create healthy habits that you can stick to longterm. Those are the promises I am making to myself. Don’t get me wrong, I want results but I know that I will get results once I make my health a priority.
So these are my tips on how to start healthy eating. What tips do you have? What has worked for you in the past or what are you going to try this year? Let me know in the comments below.