You’ve heard it all before – cut out sugar and ditch the burgers, move more… Unfortunately, there is something to be said for this if you are looking to kickstart a healthy lifestyle. That being said, going completely cold turkey is unrealistic, boring and unsustainable for most. If you try to adopt an 80:20 approach to the below tips, you’ll be on the right path!
1. Curb those sugar cravings
Of course we are all guilty of reaching for the biscuit tin and while there is nothing wrong with the odd treat, be sure to keep healthy snacks to hand such as a piece of fruit and a small handful of unsalted nuts or a couple of oat cakes and humous. The less biscuits you reach for over time, the less your body will crave them!
2. Watch out for hidden sugars
It’s no wonder we crave sugar when so much of it is hidden in our favourite sauces, salad dressings, drinks, ready meals, cereals, cereal bars and yoghurts (often the low fat, “healthy” options!) Where possible, make your own sauces and meals from scratch and avoid sugary drinks (even natural fruit juices are packed with sugar as juicing releases the sugar and removes the insoluble fibre which would otherwise slow the absorption of sugar).
3. Where possible, walk
Take the stairs in your office or walk up escalators; get off the bus one stop early; take a 20 minute walk on your lunch break. Every step counts!
4. Choose your carbs wisely
White bread, pasta and rice have been stripped of all their goodness and will send your blood sugar levels soaring. Where possible choose wholemeal pasta, brown rice and wholegrain bread and opt for other wholegrains such as oats, quinoa and bulgar wheat – these are full of fibre which will keep you fuller for longer and are a good source of protein and B vitamins amongst other essential nutrients. When it comes to potatoes, sweet potatoes and new potatoes are the most diet friendly as they have a lower glycemic index and will help keep your blood sugar levels stable. Most fruits and non-starchy vegetables are also in the lower GI category too so you can stock up on plenty of these!
5. Eat slowly
It takes about 20 minutes for our brains to catch up with our stomachs and register how full we are – chewing your food slowly will not only aid digestion but may also help prevent you overindulging.
6. Drink more water
We often confuse hunger with thirst – ensuring you drink enough water will ensure you know when you are really hungry. Many of the feelings associated with being hungry, such as an empty, gurgling stomach, low energy levels and light-headedness can strike when you’re dehydrated. Making sure you always have water to hand will also help stop you drinking sugary alternatives to quench your thirst.
7. Eat more protein
Foods high in protein are low on the glycemic index meaning they help curb appetite. Good sources of protein include meat, fish, dairy products, eggs, nuts and beans. Protein is essential for muscle growth and repair.
8. Eat more fat*
*The unsaturated variety! Good sources include nuts, avocados, certain oils and oily fish. Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated can help lower your cholesterol and lower your risk of heart disease at the same time as reducing your waistline!