Diet is a Dirty Word
If you are anything like me, you may have over-done it just a little over the festive season? There seems to be temptation everywhere you look from the nativity school play to the cheeky coffees to the umpteen family gatherings. No wonder January is so depressing, we all feel rather sluggish, and everything feels just that little bit tighter around the waist. Here is a thought for you though, before you go rushing out to stock up on low fat diet products and a big wall plan of your twice daily gym visits……don’t do it! You heard right, I suggested not to do it. Before you stop reading just have a think about how many other times you have decided that this January is the time. This is the time you are going to change your ways; you are going to be slimmer, healthier and happier than ever before!!
Did it work? Did you suddenly drop a couple of dress sizes and become a more successful version of yourself than ever before? Or did you lose a few pounds after depriving yourself and after surviving on very few calories pile it all back on? If this does sound like a familiar story, then do not be disheartened as you are in good company. 26 million people do the same after over-doing it in January. According to surveys done 9 out of 10 people will break their new year diets just 12 days into their new regime.
So, what am I suggesting? To just carry on where you left off over the festive season? Chocolate for breakfast and 9 days in a row of binge drinking? Of course not! What I am suggesting is something far more likely to give you the results you are after. The word is “balance”. You are far more likely to feel like your lighter and more energetic self if you nourish yourself with a balanced diet.
Here below are some of my top tips in how to smash it in January:
Eat when you are hungry
Don’t feel that you have to eat 3 square meals a day. We are all different, we have different occupations, ages and needs. A 25-year-old builder will need to eat far more often than a 45-year-old office worker. The important bit here is to listen to your body. Are You bored, stressed or tired? If this is so, what else could you do to help yourself rather than eat? This could be chatting to a friend, taking a soak in the bath, reading or getting some fresh air.
Drink more water
So many of us just do not drink enough water. Thirst can often be mistaking for hunger. There are lots of water bottles out there that will help you achieve your daily target. Ideally, this should be 1.2-1.5 litres a day. Whilst your tea and sugar-free liquids all count, try and consume around 1.5 litres of water and the rest can be extra. So, if you are hungry then just drink a pint of water, leave it half an hour and if still hungry then eat! My mum used to say this to me all the time as a kid as I uttered those words heard up and down the country; “What’s for dinner Mum?” Whilst I’d have much preferred a bag of crisps, my mum was helping me learn to listen to my body and give it what it needed!
Get more sleep
Getting enough sleep is just as important as diet and exercise when it comes to regulating our weight. I for one know that when I wake up tired after a poor nights sleep, exercise is the last thing I feel like doing. Imagine if you never sleep well and how likely it is that you will stick to your good intentions from the night before of exercising? You’d rather chill out and watch some tv with some comfort food than exercise? It’s an easy trap to fall into as we will crave fatty or high sugar foods and we lack the energy in taking part in any physical exercise. Even just having one bad night sleep can contribute to us over-eating 300-400 extra calories. Unfortunately, it’s not just our motivation that is affected but also our hormones. We have two hormones that help us with our appetite. Ghrelin tells us when we are hungry, and leptin tells us when we are full. Leptin levels can decrease in sleep deprived individuals and therefore the brain believes that the body needs to take in more energy. We then end up eating even though we don’t need the extra calories. These calories are then stored as fat as your brain thinks it needs reserves. Every woke up after a daytime nap and feel instantly hungry? This is the reason! Once we have eaten, ghrelin levels decrease as our hunger has been satisfied. When we don’t get enough sleep our ghrelin levels don’t decrease as they should, so we continually feel hungry even if we aren’t. Sleep deprivation can make us feel both hungrier and less full than we physically are. When you understand how these two hormones work, it’s easy to see why we can gain weight if we don’t sleep well.
I know this sounds like watching paint dry to some of you, but it does not mean planning every finite detail for every single meal for the next week but if you get into the habit of taking half an hour on a Sunday to look at the week ahead this can really help! You can identify the nights you are out, or days of the week that are super busy with after work/school activities so that you can plan accordingly. Usually, I will buy a combination of meat, fish and chicken and then decide the night before what to take out of the freezer. I am also a BIG fan of batch cooking! If I am going to the effort of cooking something from scratch I just double up on the ingredients. This then means that on those nights when I have had a really long day and can’t be bothered to do anything other than curl up on the sofa, I get to heat up a homemade meal in just a few minutes!! You do need a fair-sized freezer for this to work and don’t forget to label your meals……that is unless you like playing Russian roulette!!
Don’t deny yourself of whole food groups
If you look at some of the most well know diet regimes, most of them cut out whole food groups such as Carbs or Fat. Whilst you may get some good results short term, they are not sustainable for the long term. Our body needs these food groups. We need carbohydrates to fuel us so that we can complete our daily tasks. They are also the primary source for our brain’s energy requirements. If you cut out your carbs this could be the reason you experience brain fog and can feel lethargic. We still need a healthy dose of fat as this also helps provide us with energy as well as protecting your organs and absorbing vital nutrients into your body. Check out some of the healthy fats such as salmon, avocado, nuts and seeds as they will provide you with your much needed energy without gaining weight. Fat is ok in moderation! This goes for diet products too……If you eat lots of low fat or low calories foods you are more likely to be reaching for the biscuit tin because you have not satisfied your appetite and get hungry. If you do not want to constantly be testing your willpower, fuel yourself with slow- release carbs, high protein and healthy fats.
I honestly believe that there is an exercise for everyone……Now before you scoff at me, hear me out on this one! I totally get it that the gym or classes may not be for you. They can be intimidating places for even the most confident of people. Try badminton with a friend, doing some weights at home. Maybe join a walking club or see what the local swimming baths times are. If you can grab the support of a friend all the better as you will be far more likely to stick to it, knowing that you get to see them at the same time. You will also be far more likely to stick to the commitment as you will not want to let them down. Brisk walking is amazing and can help you feel brilliant and far more positive afterwards. If you haven’t got a dog, then borrow one! Friends and family will be all too chuffed to have someone else help! Being out in nature can have a calming effect and is fantastic for our mental health. If you haven’t any green space near you then pounding the pavements is just as good. My thing is walking on roads that host round beautiful homes, so I get to take a sneaky peek at how the other half live!
Keep an eye on your stress levels
Easier said than done I know but the more stressed you become the more likely you will feel the urge to have instant gratification foods. Whether your thing is warm pastry, moreish cakes & biscuits or a packet of crisps it’s all food that you instantly feel guilty about. It’s this guilt that I’m trying to advise you to avoid as it is a vicious circle that many of us feel powerless to get out of. It’s not just the food we eat when we are stressed but the actual physiological stuff that happens in your body. So, when you begin to feel stressed the hormone cortisol will build up. This hormone will accumulate fat and inflammation inside your body. When your hormone level cortisol level is high you will feel hungry. This includes stress caused by over-exercising!! So, what is the solution? Try to be aware of your symptoms of stress. This could be how you are breathing, your heart rate or temperature. If you notice that you are beginning to feel irritable or snappy then take a step back and take action. This could be taking yourself away from a situation momentarily or letting a close friend know you are struggling. I hear so many people tell me how busy they are (I am including myself in this) whether it’s work, children or social stuff. If you have a busy working week, then perhaps take some time out for yourself at the weekend just to pause and review how your week has been and what you want to get out of the week ahead. I think a common trap can be when we have a tiring or stressful week, we can then plan lots of activities for the weekend as a reward or time to let off steam. Whilst these activities are important, they are still tiring. Whether it’s shopping for the food to entertain, buying new clothes to go out it can all sometimes feel like too much. If this sounds like a familiar story to you then try having a plan free day (or even half a day) of the weekend and see if it makes you feel any better!
You are more than the value of the scales
What do I mean when I say this? For so many of us, one of the things we do is jump on the scales once the festivities are over. I personally absolute hate weighing myself as it really is not a true value of how healthy and happy I am. It is not called the sad step for no reason! Please don’t weigh yourself in January! Focus on moving as much as you can, maybe give yourself a challenge to focus on. This could be to walk every day, take the steps instead of the lift or ride your bike to work. If you are not feeling great, then wear a colour that you feel good in. For ladies, the power of lipstick can be mindset changing. Spray some perfume or aftershave on. Treat yourself to a new top or scarf. You are so much more than the number on your scales! If I had my way, I would ban scales from every house! Do I own a set of scales? Of course, I do! I do try to be fair on myself though and do not religiously weigh myself and only do it periodically every month or so.
So, whatever your plan is for January enjoy it! I know it’s cold and wet and most of us are pretty broke but embrace it for being the time of change. Time to spring clean your house, review your finances and relationships. Plan for your year ahead in terms of what you want to get out of it, what are your hopes and dreams? It does not have to be big life changing things as let’s face it you are far more likely to fail if the hurdle is too high. Sometimes the smallest of changes can give us the biggest rewards. Whichever path you decide to take, please don’t beat yourself up about what you are not doing or go on any extreme diet. Enjoy the start of a new year with a healthy, strong and positive outlook!
Hi, I’m Nikki & I’ve been teaching children & adults alike about the joys of food glorious food for almost 10 years now.❤️
My ethos is that there is no such thing as “good” or “bad” foods. I teach you how to nourish yourself and once you understand the different types of food and how they can affect how you feel you will gain freedom from punishing diets! 🙌
My business is Pudding and Pie Limited.
If I’m not in a nursery or school then you’ll find me running online classes to teach children how to make a family meal from scratch or a perfect weekend treat! 😋
However, why should our kids have all the fun? I adore teaching adults the joy of cooking from scratch. This is for all levels from a complete beginner as we all have to start off from somewhere to those that enjoy cooking & are looking to get out of the food rut & want to inspire their families and friends with their masterpieces! 👩🍳 👨🍳
All of my classes are online so you can join from the comfort of your own home, even in your PJ’s if you like!🥰
If you’d like to try a taster class then feel free to contact me on 07967004824
If you’d like to join my free FB group or check out my website, feel free to click on the ⬇️