5 resolutions to keep you healthy in 2017 plus a FREE 1 week healthy meal plan and recipes
Have you been overindulging over the past few weeks? Are you feeling overweight and unhealthy? Are you looking for a diet or regime to rejuvenate yourself and magically transform you? At this time of year it’s common to feel like this and to make New Year’s Resolutions to lose weight or eat better.
There are lots of detox diets available that make all sorts of promises, including restarting your metabolism and get you onto the right track. You can even do some in just 1 day! Detox diets usually involve avoiding toxins and often eliminate large groups of food such as dairy or wheat or just drinking juice for a week. They can be very restrictive indeed.
Detox diets may be effective for losing weight in the short term, this is due to the restrictive aspect and also because you are highly motivated to follow a diet such as this for a short amount of time. However they are not sustainable, as soon as you eat normally again any weight lost will be regained.
There are obviously benefits to increasing your fluid, fruit and vegetable intake, but it may lead to uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating or diarrhoea if you are not used to as much fibre. Increasing fruit and vegetables for a short time will not improve your long term health. Unfortunately therefore detox diets aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. As well as the questionable health benefits they can be expensive and may even make you feel ill.
So, what can you do to improve your health and make you feel better? How can you “rejuvenate” yourself for the New Year?
I do have very good news, you already have the answer within you. Your liver has already been working hard over the past two weeks (some harder than others!). The liver is the second largest organ in the body and as well as many other functions filters your blood, breaks down nutrients and removes toxins such as alcohol. This is also known as detoxing. It also helps prevent you catching colds as it is an important part of the body’s immune system
Here are my 5 suggested New Years Resolutions which are simple and sustainable to improve your long term health and help your liver function in order to aid detoxification:
1. Drink alcohol in moderation
Government recommendations are 2-3 units per day for women and 3-4 per day for men. Total units should not exceed 14 units per week. For more advice on alcohol click here.
2. Increase your fruit and vegetable consumption
Aim for at least 5 portions a day but ideally 7. Don’t forget that canned and frozen count. See the NHS Livewell website for more information.
3. Increase your intake of prebiotics and probiotics
There is an increasingly convincing body of evidence which points to the importance of a healthy microbiome (the bacterial environment within your gut). Gut bacteria affects your whole body including the brain and can help. For more information on probiotics click here.
4. Eat mindfully
If you can be conscious of what you put in your mouth you can be in charge of your calorie intake. That may sound like a very obvious statement, however removing mindless eating and emotions from what you eat is very difficult to master. For more information and a guide to mindful eating see my previous blog post.
5. Increase your physical activity
OK so you may think this is outside my remit but exercise is so important to improve your health. There are so many benefits, see the NHS Choices website for more information.
So, good luck this New Year, I hope the tips have helped. If you need more help then feel free to contact me and I can try and help.
If you would like a free 1 week low calorie meal plan this New Year then just request your free copy below.
References: http://www.webmd.com/hepatitis/hepc-guide/liver-function-test-lft#1 http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/liver-disease/Pages/Introduction.aspx Images: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/what-detox-diet http://www.medicinenet.com/liver_disease/page3.htm https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-facts/alcoholic-drinks-units/what-is-an-alcohol-unit/
This is one of my favourite recipes at the moment, it’s super easy to prepare and is full of vegetables and fibre. It’s a fantastic one-pot dinner.
Rice and Bean Enchiladas
Modified from a recipe from: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1569634/rice-and-bean-enchiladas
Prep: 15 mins Cook: 30 mins Serves: 4
- 250g pouch wholegrain microwave rice
- 1 tbsp Cajun seasoning
- 1 small onion chopped or 1/2 cup of frozen chopped onion
- 1 cup of chopped mixed bell peppers (I use frozen)
- 1 cup sweetcorn (can/frozen)
- handful fresh coriander
- 6 large flour tortillas
- 415g can cannelloni beans
- 400g can of chopped tomatoes
- 200g tub tomato salsa
- 150g soya yogurt
- 50g cheese or cheese substitute, grated – optional
Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Add the rice to the bowl, then the drained beans, then the vegetables. Mix together then add the cajun spices and coriander
Pour the can of tomatoes into your baking dish. Place the rice, bean and vegetable mix onto the tortillas. Roll up the wraps, arrange on top of the salsa.
Spread the tomato salsa over the wraps then dot over the yogurt and sprinkle over the cheese. Cook for 30 mins until golden and bubbling. Serve sprinkled with the rest of the coriander with a chopped up avocado on the side or any accompaniments of your choice.
Mindfulness is the practice of being in the present moment both internally and externally and stems from Buddhism. It is very popular at the moment, if you want to find out more look at the NHS website which has an excellent summary specifically in relation to mental health.
We have turned into a society of doers and can easily spend our days rushing around, never being in the moment. I think that’s why mindfulness is so popular, we are all so over stimulated either by busyness or technology. Mindfulness is like going back to basics and just checking in with how you are feeling and being in the present.
So how does mindfulness relate to food? Let me give you an example:
I’m not really keen on biscuits, does this stop me from eating them? No! Ridiculous isn’t it? They are a high calorie food with not much nutritional value. So why do I eat them? Well, if I’m at work and there are some biscuits, I have one. After church on a Sunday, I always have one. It may sound daft but I’m just following a social norm, doing what everyone else is doing and eating without thinking. What I am not being is mindful. If I stopped for even 5 seconds and thought about it I wouldn’t eat one and wouldn’t feel as if I’d missed out. Because I don’t even like them that much! Can you relate to that?
Now, when my youngest child was breastfeeding I had to cut out all dairy as he had a cow’s milk protein allergy. I couldn’t just grab available food like I had been doing. Often it was such a hassle to find out whether things contained cow’s milk protein that I just didn’t bother eat them. I’m not going to lie, for that year I did feel like I missed out, it was tough! But the greatest gift I learned was mindful eating.
Exercise in mindfulness
Take a chocolate button or square of chocolate. You’d normally eat that and a few others in 2 seconds right? Well, put it on a table in front of you and look at it. Take your time, appreciate it’s shape and colour. Have you ever actually looked at a chocolate button or square of chocolate before? Try to do this for 20 seconds.
Now, pick it up and smell it. What does it smell like? Is it appealing? How does it feel? Again, do this for at least 20 seconds.
Now you can put it on your tongue and shut your eyes but DON’T chew! Let it sit on your tongue and melt. Appreciate the taste and texture, notice how it makes you feel. Let the chocolate fill your mouth and appreciate it for as long as you can. Did you realise that such a small amount of chocolate could be so enjoyable and last so long?
This exercise just highlights how being aware of every moment of eating something completely changes your experience.
Mindful eating can be a very useful tool, especially if you have been trying to lose weight or if you have been yo-yo dieting for a while. Diets do not work in the long term and it is better to make adjustments to your way of life on the whole rather than denying yourself. Mindful eating can help you enjoy your food yet reduce your portion sizes and be aware when you’ve eaten enough.
How to be a mindful eater
- Think before you eat. Before reaching into your cupboard or opening the fridge take 10 seconds and do a body scan. Just take stock and work out how you are feeling. Are you hungry or are you thirsty, tired, bored or procrastinating? When did you last eat? Is it understandable that you should be hungry?
- Think about what you are going to eat. If you are indeed hungry think about your choices. It might be useful here if you have a tendency to grab unhealthy foods to have planned ahead, see my post on meal planning. Don’t eat food just because it is there. Don’t eat things that you are not keen on. Try to make sensible decisions. If you want a piece of chocolate cake, that’s fine but ensure you’re in control of that decision making.
- Think about how much you are going to eat. Before you serve yourself a portion of food consider how much you need and what proportions would be suitable. For example is a whole pizza necessary or can you put half in the fridge for tomorrow and fill up your plate with salad?
- Enjoy every mouthful. Try to use all your senses when you eat as depicted in the example above and take your time. This improves your enjoyment of food and makes you feel satisfied sooner.
- Stop when you feel full. Be aware of how your whole body is feeling. Every few mouthfuls reassess and stop when you feel full. Remember, it does not matter if you do not eat everything. You can always put any leftovers in the fridge.
I hope this helps. If you need to talk about this in more detail you can always get in touch to organise a consultation. My online service works really well if you want to fit it in around your life.