January is here, so it’s time for the New Year’s resolutions to begin (and end). Do you find that you set the same food resolution year after year, but fail before you’ve even begun?
A 2016 Britain’s Healthiest Workplace study showed that people’s lifestyle choices are complex, and changing them can pose a challenge: 50% of people surveyed were at risk of not eating a healthy diet, yet only 34% were motivated enough to want to change their food choices. Equally, the same study showed that 78% of people would like to change their weight, yet only 51% were at risk of being outside of their healthy BMI. Why is food nutrition such a tricky area to tackle?
Let’s start 2019 by making small dietary changes that you can keep up for the rest of the year, and will still make a difference to your physical and mental wellbeing.
Change your Mentality
Many people think that eating healthily has to be a “diet”, that they have to follow someone else’s way of thinking or a strict diet plan, and need to throw away the chocolates, crisps and cake. But healthy eating does not have to be torture.
Enjoy yourself while implementing changes, and only make changes that suit you! Your journey doesn’t need to be a complete overhaul. Try small tweaks every few weeks: instead of two biscuits, have one. Switch the crisps to lower calorie crackers or have one more serving of vegetables with your evening meal.
Small changes can make a huge difference! Share your goals with your colleagues and keep each other motivated - can you challenge one another to see who can bring in the healthiest and tastiest snacks?
Setting goals can be difficult, and we can all get carried away trying to change everything. Try to remember these steps:
Specific – The more detail the better. A generic “I want to eat healthily” statement can mean a variety of things. Why not try “I’m going to change my afternoon biscuit to a banana at least three times a week”?
Measurable – How do you know if you've achieved it? If you’re looking to lose weight, how much do you want to lose and by when? Having a realistic goal you can measure against, such as losing two kilos by the end of January, is quantifiable.
Achievable/Attainable – Can you pull it off? Can it motivate you? Is it achievable to aim to run a marathon if you’ve never run before? A more attainable goal might be, for example, to sign up to parkrun, and complete your first one by the end of the month.
Realistic – Trying to make a dozen changes will most probably not work, but one realistic goal can create a knock-on effect. Take one day at a time.
Time-bound – Have you ever tried to make changes that constantly roll over into the next week? Try to put a time limit on your goals, like eating five portions of fruit and veg per day by the time you go on holiday in May. Clear time to achieve that goal!
Healthy eating and dieting are not the same thing. Don’t try to change your whole lifestyle overnight - try small focused changes, and they’ll soon add up.