Lightening up your Diet
Happy New Year! Since it’s January, it’s not possible to avoid the topic of dieting and losing weight, as this time of year is THE time for most to try to focus on their eating habits and losing that weight that has been bothering them for a while. Having said that, this blog post is not about losing weight or dieting – it’s about finding everyone’s personal and balanced way of eating.
The most important thing about any change is that it’s not an overnight, all-of-a-sudden choice – change takes time and that fact needs to be respected, otherwise you’re not giving yourself a chance to actually succeed. Now that the most important aspect of change is out of the way, we can talk a bit more about the most interesting bits; the personal and balanced aspects of the whole process.
First the balanced aspect, which simply means including the right amount of different types of food groups and food items in your diet that will guarantee all the necessary micro and macronutrients your body needs to thrive. Here in the UK that balance has been made into a simple guide, called The Eatwell Guide. It’s not very exciting or grand, but gets the important point across- a good diet consists of many different parts. Here’s a picture of the Eatwell Guide for you to review.
Now to the most interesting aspect - personal suitability and preference! There is no one size-fits-all diet, we are all different and we need to respect that individuality and build our whole lives around who we are and what we find suitable. A diet that worked for your friend might not do anything for you and vice versa. Learning to listen and make note of the things that are good for YOU can really impact your life significantly, and it’s not just the diet where individual suitability and preference need to be figured out, eventually it’s every aspect of your life. This takes a bit of mindfulness, paying attention and keeping track. Trust me, it’s not as tricky as it sounds but rather an exciting part of creating something that will be just for you – and make you feel your best.
For some, eating 6 times a day works wonders, for others, it makes them sluggish and heavy. Many of us can eat dinner late and sleep like babies, all the while many can’t eat anything for hours before bedtime. Same applies to food consistency, some need more fibre in their diets to keep their digestive tracts operational and happy while some cannot cope with even half of the recommended amount. See my point? We are all different, personal and unique, make this year about finding out exactly what works for you personally and what you prefer, rather than trying to find a quick solution. Yes, change does take time, but the results are well worth it!
Lightening up your diet can be easily done with a few little tweaks here and there, without too much fuss. If you want to get maximum benefits but have limited resources, I would suggest focusing on increasing your vegetable and fruit intake (the green section in the Eatwell Guide) as this will undoubtedly increase your vitamin and mineral intake, which can make a huge difference to how you feel + eating more fruits and vegetables can also make a positive impact on your weight, as they generally are low in calories but high in fibre, which will keep you feeling full and satisfied for longer – hence reducing your overall calorie intake. Also, pay attention to your berry intake. The recommend daily intake is 150g to 200g - that can be easily covered with a few teaspoons of berry powder.
Here’s an example; if you used to just enjoy your morning flakes with milk or yogurt, make time to chop a banana or sprinkle some berries on top. For the snacks during the day, instead of just having a quick coffee, grab an apple or some ready chopped carrot batons to go with your caffeine fix. Lunch and dinner, make sure you have two portions of vegetables at both meals, this means for example, two broccoli spears + one medium tomato or seven cherry tomatoes, and if you really want to up your veggie intake, why not include one portion, which is about 3 heaped tablespoons, of beans or pulses (they count as one towards your 5 a day).
Just adding more colours to your plate can really lighten up your diet, how you feel and what you look like. So, why not start today?
Berry Chia Pudding Cups (Vegan/GF)
3 tbsp chia seeds
2/3 cup almond milk
2/3 cup soy yogurt
1/2 cup frozen or fresh strawberries
2 tsp liquid sweetener such as maple syrup
Fresh berries to garnish
1. Mix the chia seeds with the almond milk and place in the fridge, taking it out to stir every five-ten minutes for the first half hour and then leaving it to thicken overnight.
2. Before serving the next day, mash the (thawed if frozen) strawberries with a fork and mix them with the soy yoghurt, lingonberry powder and liquid sweetener. If you want to make a mess you could also drizzle some blackstrap molasses down the sides :) Serve immediately with fresh berries of your choice!