Eating well is hard. When I first started making changes to my lifestyle my biggest concern was how I was going to find the motivation to drag myself to the gym. Cutting back on food sounded a hell of a lot easier than an hour of Body Pump. Turns out I could not have been more wrong. I fell in love with training and the gym became an important part of my social life, not to mention was improving my mental as well as physical health. Changing my eating habits, however, now that was difficult. Two years and a personal training qualification later, I still struggle with maintaining healthy and consistent eating habits. It is not easy to have a healthy relationship with food when you have spend the large majority of your life in a toxic one. I have, however, picked up some top tips that I thought I would share with you guys to help you lead a healthier (and happier) lifestyle.
Nutritious AND delicious.
1. Meal Prep
All those enviable Instagram accounts might have got the right idea. Meal prep may seem like a pain in the arse, but if you can get the motivation to do it, it is great for controlling what you’re eating and even saving money! It can’t just be me than goes to their kitchen only to realise all you have in is a tin of beans and that family size bag of pasta you bought weeks ago. Not exactly appealing (or very nutritious), which results in me either eating our or whipping together something that can only be compared to my school canteen dinners if you got there too late for the meal of the day. It might seem tough at the time but meal prepping is likely to save you both time and calories in the long run.
2. Always Have a Bottle of Water
Sounds simple enough, right? Having a bottle of water on you is going to make sure you stay hydrated as well as preventing mistaking thirst for hunger or grabbing a sugary drink whilst you’re out. Get yourself a pretty water bottle and it’s good for the environment as well – everyone is a winner.
3. Don’t Skip Breakfast
I know I probably sound like your mother right now but hey, they are always right! Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day and what you consume in the morning plays a part in dictated what (and even how much) you then eat for the rest of the day. Make sure you are getting a decent breakfast that includes some sort of protein source to set yourself up for a good food day.
Looking for some breakfast inspiration? Check out some recipes here.
4. It’s not about Eating Less, it’s about Eating Better
A common misconception a lot of people have is that if they want to lose weight they have to eat less food. I am pleased to be the one to inform you that this is not the case (I know, you can thank me later!). The truth is, if you cut down what you’re eating to the extreme a lot of diets expect, your body is likely to be forced into starvation mode. This means you’re going to be storing fat rather than losing it. Most of us aren’t eating too much but we are just eating the wrong things!
5. Eat your Protein
Protein is super important and not only if you’re hitting the gym and looking at gaining muscle. We all need protein, no matter what are goals are and without it we are likely to be left feeling hungry and unsatisfied.
If you’re a vegan there are still plenty of foods you can be eating to ensure you’re getting enough protein. Check out some recommendations here.
6. Don’t ‘Diet’
As previously mentioned, a lot of ‘diets’ recommend lowering your calorie intake to the extreme that it is no longer healthy. ‘Dieting’ can also lead to a unhealthy mentality surrounding food. As you will know if you have followed this blog for a while, I used to be a serial dieter. I think I have probably tried every fad diet on the planet and nothing worked for me in the long term. You do not need to ‘diet’ to lose weight and lead a healthy and happier lifestyle.
7. Fat is your Friend
Fat has got a bit of a bad reputation but it is really important! I usually suggest fat making up between 20-30% of your daily calorie intake depending on your goals. Of course there are ‘good’ fats and ‘bad’ fats (we have all seen that avocado meme) but fat in itself is not a bad thing.
Here are some suggestions for ways to get fat into your diet in a health way.
8. Slow it Down
I am without a doubt the worst at this. I think I am probably the quickest eater ever to exist in the whole entire world, but it is really not a good thing! You want to ensure you’re giving yourself time to eat and digest your food. Eating slower also gives your body time to recognise when it gets full so it is likely to mean you eat less in the long run.
9. Have an Inclusive Diet
Eating healthy should not be boring and it should definitely not mean that you are restricted from eating foods you love and make you happy. It can be really easier to get into habits when you are trying to eat well, which can result in you eating the same things every single day. Let’s be honest, it’s a whole lot easier! However, in order to maintain a healthy diet (and your sanity) it is important to be inclusive and diverse with the foods you are eating.
10. Make Gradual Changes
You have got to be realistic with yourself. If your diet has included a bag of crisps every single day for the last 5 years it would be unrealistic to tell yourself you are never going to have crisps again (starting from Monday, obviously). If you are looking at making changes to your diet, it is important that these changes take place gradually. This way you are a lot more likely to stick to the changes rather than binge eating or reseting your new, healthy lifestyle.
11. Fall in Love with Cooking
Being stuck in a shared University kitchen does not particularly inspire me to go and whip up some delicious and nutritious meals (if you have ever shared a kitchen with 7 other students, you will know exactly what I am on about). However, when I am in the comfort of my own kitchen at home, I actually love cooking. This means I am more likely to spend time in the kitchen whipping up healthy, balanced meals rather than just chucking something in the microwave. Cooking is not for everyone but I promise you that you can learn to love cooking. Have a google and find some delicious recipes that inspire you to get in the kitchen or make it a social thing – host a dinner party, make it a date and cook with your partner or friends – anything to spice up your time in the kitchen.
12. Police Your Portion Size
I know I said it is not about eating less but rather eating better and for the most part that is true. However, that does not mean that you can scoff 300g of pasta in one sitting because it’s ‘healthy’ (trust me, I speak from experience). Even seemingly healthy foods are not calorie free! Fruit for example has loads of sugar and so should be limited and don’t even get me started on almond butter. It may be a delicious, healthy snack but don’t let yourself be fooled!
13. Eat More Fibre
Might not exactly sound delicious, but fibre is an really important part of your diet. Most of us are only getting about 18g of fibre a day when it is recommended we get 30g. You can get fibre from loads of different foods – berries, avocado, cereals, potato skins! Let’s not beat about the bush, without enough fibre you’re not going to be pooing, which is no good for anyone.
Struggling to get your fibre in? Click here for some top tips.
14. Get Your Beauty Sleep
Making sure you’re getting enough sleep sounds like a weird nutrition tip, however, research has shown that there is a link between how well you’re sleeping and what you’re fuelling your body with. One study has found that when those looking at losing weight cut back on sleep for a 14 day period, the amount of fat lost dropped by 55% (even though the number of calories being consumed remained equal!). Now, I am not saying hit snooze on your alarms and miss your morning yoga class oh no! Sadly, it is not that if you sleep you’re going to lose weight but it’s more that if you sleep too little your metabolism is going to suffer causing weight gain.
15. Be Kind to Yourself
These tips are all well and good but that is not to say they are easy. I would be lying if I told you I stuck to these 15 tips all the time. Sometimes we are going to have days that are not too ‘healthy’ (hell, sometimes you’re going to have some weeks where you’re not going to be posting your meal prep on the gram!).
Be kind to yourself. These things are difficult and they take practise. The most important thing when it comes to leading a healthier lifestyle is being kind to yourself. Trust me, you’re doing great.