It’s one thing starting off the New Year with the best intentions – but it’s another thing to stick to a clean eating plan in the longer term.
Temptation is all around, and slip-ups are inevitable. But if you follow a few fundamentals, you’ll have a much better chance of sticking to your new diet (and benefitting from it).
Here’s how to eat like the pros by making simple yet sustainable changes to your diet.
1. Don’t rush…
There’s no need to go from zero to hero just because its January! 90% of New Year’s resolutions go out of the window by the second weekend of the month. You’re better off making a solid plan that focuses on changing your approach one day at a time.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Day 1: Commit to eating a healthy breakfast every day.
Day 7: Commit to drinking 2 litres of water every day.
Day 14: Start eating a healthy dinner every evening.
Day 21: Begin preparing healthy lunches every day.
Day 28: Start substituting your snacks for healthier options.
Little tweaks feel more manageable than a big overhaul of your routine. Follow this advice, and by the end of January, you will be well on your way to a healthier lifestyle, without giving in and binging on the bad stuff because you’re finding it all too much of a struggle.
2. Keep a food diary
This follows on nicely from point number one. By putting your weekly changes into your food diary, you’ll be able to give yourself clear reminders of your plan. At the same time, you’ll be tracking which aspects of your diet might be letting you down.
When you can see the unhealthy patterns for what they are, you’ll be able to address them. And once you’ve been writing down everything for a while, you’ll get a great sense of pride from seeing how you have progressed and how your consumption has improved over time.
3. Bin the junk!
By the end of January, your diary should be looking pretty damn good; it should be reflecting much better food choices across the board. By this point, any of the sweets and treats left over from the Christmas period should be well and truly in the bin. Yes, even those toffees that nobody wants to eat should be bagged up and sent on to a better place.
The biggest pitfall in any endeavour is temptation, but if there is nothing left in your house to send you off course, you’re much more likely to stick with the plan.
4. Sleep well
One of the top contributors to poor sleep is diet. Eating high carbohydrate, high glycaemic index food and drinks before bed, or at least later in the evening, will massively affect your quality of sleep. You’ll experience less deep sleep, you’ll be waking up much more frequently, and even your lighter sleep won’t be of a great quality, either.
Eating a balanced diet will help you get proper rest, which can only benefit your energy levels and your training capacity.
5. Avoid energy drinks
We’re sure we all had our fair share of alcohol over the Christmas period. If you managed to avoid too many tipples, we bet your water consumption is down, at least.
The worst thing you can do is reach for an energy drink. The first thing a lot of us do when it’s time to get back into training is to look for that kick start or boost to get us back in the gym and firing on all cylinders. However, these products could actually be hindering you rather than helping you.
Yes, you could opt for a sugar free one. It’s a start. But take a look at the pros and cons of energy drinks, and we’re pretty sure you’ll want to give them a wide berth.
First, the advantages:
- Energy drinks give you a quick burst of energy. They’re full of caffeine, taurine, and vitamin B to elevate your heart rate.
- They’re cheap, convenient, and easy to buy from anywhere with a fridge.
- They can boost your performance. After all, an alert mind is an active mind, and this can only help in the gym.
- A lot of energy drinks now come with electrolytes, which can help to maintain hydration and mineral balances in the body.
This all sounds great, right? Well, let’s look at the cons:
- Too much caffeine can result in high blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat.
- If you have type 2 diabetes, too much caffeine can lead to a decrease in insulin sensitivity and result in an accumulation of body fat.
- Taking energy drinks consistently may result in chronic health complications and osteoporosis. This is due to the caffeine component that makes your body lose calcium, resulting in weak bones.
- As a lot of us train in the evening, the effects of the drink can last into the night, affecting our sleep patterns and often leading to sleep deprivation.
- The acidic ingredients found in these drinks are a problem. Most of them contain a high number of artificial flavours or sweeteners to make them taste better. These ingredients affect the function of your internal organs and can lead to belly fat accumulation.
There are plenty of other, more natural ways to increase your energy levels – following a balanced diet being one of them!
6. Preparation is key
You may have heard the expression “fail to prepare, and you prepare to fail”. This is definitely the case when it comes to dieting.
The biggest excuse we hear from our clients is, “I was out, and I didn’t know what to eat, and the only thing was fast food”. Now we’re not saying you have to take Tupperware with you wherever you go, but a little preparation will stop a multitude of failures.
Do a quick Google search for healthier options when going out. Check out menus before heading to the restaurants, even if you’re late home and a takeaway is an easier option. Even today’s food ordering apps have healthy eating sections. Most importantly, plan and prepare exactly what you’re eating, as often as you can. It’s not as difficult or time consuming as you may think, and once it becomes a habit, you won’t even need to think about it.
7. Eat your veg
A very simple and easy way to get back on track is to fill your plate with veg.
The biggest reason we binge and fall off the wagon is hunger, so feel your plate and your belly with good quality veg with every meal. No one ever got fat eating leaves – except pandas, maybe. Pandas are really fat.
8. Get your hands on a plan!
You can’t build something epic without a plan. So why should your journey be any different?
The most tried and tested method to healthy eating and staying on track is having a plan in place that actually works for you. Physically Fit offers a series of pre-set diet plans to suit all genders, body weights and goals. Click to see all the diet plans on offer.
These programmes may cost a few pennies but imagine how much cash you would otherwise waste on Starbucks coffees, cans of Red Bull, and other pick-me-up treats. That money would be much better invested into something that is going to change your habits for the better and help get you the results you want to see from your new routine.