There is only 3 months left in the year and I am surprised how quick time flew by this year. This is the time that most people start getting ready for their festive seasons as well as realise that they may not have hit some of their health and fitness goals for 2021. You don’t have to wait to January 2022 to restart or drop your goals for the rest of the year. We may have less than 100 days left of the year but that is still a lot of time to create new habits, and take smaller steps that will build up momentum for the upcoming year. Healthy eating and nutrition is one of the most overcomplicated topics on the internet and I can understand why a lot of beginners, people who struggle with maintaining consistency can be confused. I struggled a lot with nutrition when I first started. It took me three years into my journey to figure it out and simplify it so it worked with my lifestyle. It is difficult at first, like most things, but it is doable and as you practice it, you get better. Here are some of my top tips to help you create a balanced diet, help you eat healthier and be devoted to eating foods that make you feel good.
A balanced meal is one with a source of protein, carbs, fat and fibre. Protein, carbs, and fat are macronutrients. Macronutrients are the main nutrient groups that we need to survive and give us the most energy. Fruits and vegetables are micronutrients. Micronutrients are smaller nutrient groups, along with water, that are vital to the healthy development of our bodies, our wellbeing and disease prevention. Pairing each meal and snack with a fruit and/or a vegetable ensures that you are getting enough vitamins, minerals and antioxidants for the organs and cells to perform at their optimal best. By adding healthy fats, protein and fibre to your meals will help you feel fuller for longer, suppress hunger, sustain high energy levels as well as help with weight management.
Eat all the food groups
Follow a diet that that combines all the groups such as a lean protein source, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and a lot of water. All the food groups provide a range of nutrients that are essential to the body, promote good health and can help risk diseases. By cutting out of food group or a specific macronutrient, you can deprive your body from the essential nutrients that it needs. If you’re lactose intolerant, have celiac etc. there are certain foods that you may not be able to eat. It’s even more important that you are eating more foods from the other food groups to supplement the nutrients that are being lost.
Moderation is key
Around 80% of your food should come from the five main food groups listed in the first point. Junk food, high calorie drinks, sweets and fast food should be eaten in moderation. I follow the 80/20 rule when it comes to my diet as it is not sustainable to only eat healthy foods and not have junk food from time to time. We are human and we are not perfect. The 80/20 rule is a guide for an everyday diet – eat nutritious foods 80% of the time and the other 20% of the time treat yourself. It’s less restrictive and there isn’t this feeling of guilt and shame of ‘going off your diet’. Your nutrition journey should be enjoyed and not miserable.
Know and respect your body
Learning to understand how your body works. Everyone is different and what may work for one person may not work for another person. This is the same reason why one-for-all meal plans do not work. Everyone is unique and their diet is individualised for them. Eat foods that give you energy, make you feel good inside and work with your preferences. Keep a food journal to understand how certain foods make you feel at different times of the day.
We easily confuse hunger with thirst. Start your day with a glass of water. Make sure that you have a bottle of water with you at all times, so you can sip on water throughout the day. Drinking water can get boring so I like to add some lemon, oranges, and limes to add some flavour to it. Water is considered as a micronutrient and around 70% of our bodies are made up of water. There is a reason why it is the water of life. Water helps to maintain the body temperature, weight management, and flushes toxins and waste out of the body.
I understand that meal prep can be long and tedious for some but it takes out the daily guess work of what to have for lunch and/or for dinner. Preparing your meals for the week in advance can help reduce that stress of not knowing what to eat and can help you learn about portion control. When you prepare your own meals, you are in control of what you are putting inside your body and you gain a better awareness of your relationship with food.
Improve your cooking skills
Focusing on improving your cooking skills is aligned with meal prepping. You know the which ingredients and the exact quantity that is going into your food. It’s also an opportunity to play around with different herbs and spices to make your food tastier, learn more about the art of cooking and try out new recipes.
Healthy eating and the maintenance of a balanced diet is meant to be fun and enjoyed. It doesn’t have to be boring, miserable and unseasoned. It’s important that you are enjoying the way that you eat and the process for long-term consistency. We all start out as a beginner in the nutrition journey and we all follow a process to create a habit that we can do consistently over time and become confident with it. Think like an elite athlete who had to practice for months and years to get to where they are now by mastering the fundamentals. You will get to a point where your nutrition journey will feel easier because you got better at mastering the tips.
Let’s make these last days of the year count! If you are ready to create habits and build momentum into the new year with your health journey, use this tips to help you get there. Take small steps and work one day at time at your pace. I know you’ve got this! As always check out my Instagram and take part in my weekly Q&As sessions so I can help you the best way I can. I have ‘What I Eat In A Day’ videos on my Pinterest for more inspiration.