How to get back on track after consuming lots of delicious but not so nutritious treats
“New year, new me” - I think we’ve all muttered this on the 1st January as we dust off our trainers and get rid of the remnants of the selection boxes and biscuit tins. However, come the end of the week, we’ve fallen off the wagon and are back to our old ways.
Setting new year’s resolutions following the christmas period is all well and good, but only if you’re going to see them through (which is easier said than done)!
We’ve rounded up our top tips for getting back to nutritional health after christmas:
1. Set realistic goals
Often, people are unrealistic with their goals and can end up being disheartened when things don’t go as planned. Going too hard, too soon can mean that by the end of January you’ve cracked and give up.
Don’t feel the need to forbid yourself from your favourite foods all at once come the new year, as chances are you won’t stick to it. Instead, take a step back and set yourself a smaller number of manageable goals, which are both measurable and achievable. Perhaps
aim to cut out a couple of items and limit the times you eat others.
Once all of the choccies have been eaten and mulled wine drank, it’ll definitely make things a little easier!
2. Give yourself specific targets
Targets are great to keep you focussed on the end goal. They don’t have to be solely related to weight loss - they could be things like running 5km without stopping or walking to work at least 3 days per week. Signing up for a race can also help to stay motivated.
Set your own goals and make sure they are in accordance with your own values.
Being able to work towards and reach said targets will keep your spirits up and give you the motivation you need to keep going!
3. Plan ahead
It’s easy to make excuses to avoid eating healthily or go to the gym, especially when your day is influenced by so many factors outside of your control (eg family and work commitments).
Many people fail to stick to the same plan for long enough to reap the benefits and others are strict all week and blow out at the weekend. Consistency is key when it comes to getting results. A constant schedule allows for steady weight management and enables you to get into a better routine and turn the actions from chores into habits.
Take matters into your own hands (or ours...cue FFF) and try to plan your week before it has begun. Being organised will also put your mind at ease and all the challenges you’ve set for yourself will feel far less daunting.
4. Get in your 5 a day
Filling your plate with vibrant veggies, will ensure your meal is not only appealing to the eye, but also for your health.
It’s great to think of your diet in terms of macros, i.e. the amounts of protein, carbohydrate and fat you eat, but a great deal of importance should also be placed on making sure each meal is made up of various brightly coloured foods as they will add a huge amount of nutritional value to your meals. A rainbow plate will help you towards reaching your 5-a-day.
Make sure you’re having plenty of vegetables at each meal time – either added to curries, sauces or stews or on the side. Chopped up veggies paired with hummus or homemade guacamole, also makes for a tasty snack!
Try to eat whole foods as much as possible and avoid processed and sugary foods.
With an increase in festive get-togethers over the holidays, often comes more indulgent (yet often highly processed) food and increased alcohol consumption.
Many processed foods tend to be higher in salt, which can not only lead to bloating (through water retention), but it can also lead to dehydration if you don’t consume additional fluid. Further, alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it increases the output of urine, which if not managed, can also contribute towards dehydration.
To counteract the above, aim to drink around 2-3 litres of water each day (more if you’re exercising), avoid sugary drinks and limit caffeine and alcohol consumption where possible.
Maybe consider having a break from alcohol and try ‘Dry January’. You become more aware of your alcohol use and people who have tried it said they slept better, felt more energised and lost some weight.
If water isn’t your thing, make it tasty by adding in mint, cucumber or citrus fruits perhaps. When it comes to cooking, use herbs and spices instead of reaching for the salt shaker for seasoning.
6. Watch out for hidden calories
A coffee when you need a mid-morning pick-me-up and a handful of nuts late afternoon hardly seems like a big deal, but some of your favourite go-to’s can quickly and unknowingly increase your daily calorie intake significantly. For instance, if you had a Starbucks latte, which is approximately 150kcals, followed by some nuts mid-afternoon, you’ve quickly increased your total daily calorie intake by at least 300kcal.
If weight-loss is your goal, you must consistently be in a calorie deficit. Snacking in this way will hinder your progress.
Now we’re not saying you need to remove these things from your diet, but you should consider being more mindful with your choices and alter your main meals to allow for the extra snacks.
7. Stick at it
We all want to see quick changes, especially when we’re putting in stacks of effort and we can often become impatient if noticeable results are not happening in the desired timeframe.
It is important to note there may be weeks where your progress is outstanding and others where it appears to be rather stagnant. Don’t let this get you down and don’t beat yourself up over it. Assess where you’ve gone wrong and work towards finding a solution to avoiding it happening again.
Everything will not slip into place over-night. It takes time to turn these changes into habits and so you must be patient but persistent.
8. Believe in yourself
Be convinced that you are capable of achieving your goal. In psychology, the belief in one's own ability is called the ‘self-efficacy expectancy’. If you don’t believe that it will work out from the start, it will be very difficult to realise your resolutions.
To summarise, don’t be too quick out of the blocks, as you may fall at the first hurdle! Have a realistic plan in place in terms of both your diet and exercise regime, eat more unprocessed, whole foods and increase your water intake.