Eating well, staying active and working on mindset are guaranteed to make you feel, look and perform better. Follow these top 10 tips for making 2018 your healthiest and most fabulous year yet.
A hydrated body helps to burn more fat, increase mental clarity and keeps skin looking fresh. This is because water is essential for every process in our body. Dehydration can negatively effect our mood, productivity and hunger levels. Drinking more water will stave away headaches and improve digestion. Drink at least 6-8 glasses (tumbler sized) of water a day. Why not try drinking 1 extra glass of water per day over the next week and see the difference it makes?
2. Eat more fibre
Fibre is awesome. It keeps our digestion healthy and makes us feel satisfied for longer. It also feeds the good bacteria in our gut so we can absorb nutrients better. Eat around 30g of fibre per day. To achieve this, swap white carbs (rice, pasta, bread) for brown and wholegrain varieties and eat 5 portions of fruit and veg per day. About 50% of our food intake should be from carbohydrate as it fuels the body and contains vital micronutrients and fibre. This advice has been circulating for years but it works. Read more about how fibre keeps us feeling fab here.
3. Reduce added sugar
Added sugar includes white and brown sugar, honey, syrups and fruit juice concentrates. It doesn’t include sugar from whole foods such as fruit, vegetables, unsweetened dairy and plant based milks. Too much added sugar leads to weight gain and tooth decay. It messes up blood glucose levels making us tired, grumpy and hungry more often. Eat less than 30g of added sugar per day, which is the equivalent to 7 sugar cubes. Kids should eat even less (no more than 5-6 sugar cubes). Ditch sugary fizzy drinks for sparkling water or water with slices of lemon, orange, strawberries or cucumber. If you have it, try and halve the amount of sugar in your tea or coffee. Go for very dark chocolate instead of milk and white. Swap the shop bought cakes, sweet and biscuits for fruit, nuts, natural yogurt, energy balls and flapjacks sweetened with dates, figs and other dried fruit. These kinds of foods are not only low in sugar they are packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals.
4. The five minute workout
A five minute run around the block is maybe all you’ll manage today but it’s something. This is my motto. Just do 5 minutes, if nothing else. My exercise goals have changed over recent years. I’m much less concerned about staying skinny (yes I admit that was a goal for many years). These days I am far more concerned about circulation, staying flexible and alert. A five minute burst of activity may inspire you to carry on and do more, or it may be just enough to shift your mind set and get your blood flowing to everywhere that needs it. Here are some great suggestions of what to do for 5 minutes;
- Use a skipping rope and do as many 100 reps as possible.
- Sprint on the spot whilst counting to 50. Rest for 20 seconds and repeat.
- Run round the block. Even if it’s up the street and back.
- At work, climb as many stairs as you can find.
5. Quit the comparison with others
There are 7.6 billion people on the planet. It’s hard to not notice what others are doing! But this is YOUR life, no one else’s. They are not YOU. Stop comparing yourself with other people. Just stop it.
6. Use herbs and spices more
Flavours keep foods interesting. Herbs and spices are cheap to buy, easy to grow (if you’re up for it) and can transform a dish into restaurant quality food. Some of my favourite spices are smoked paprika, cumin, chilli flakes, Chinese 5 spice, turmeric powder and ground cinnamon. Adding some or all of these spices (around a teaspoon each) to a stew, soup or sauce adds an extra dimension. Be brave and start experimenting more with flavours over the next few months. Why not sprinkle some chilli flakes over a batch of raw chocolate too? MMM.
7. Be patient
A good friend once said, “When you’re climbing a mountain, it’s sometimes good to take a look behind you to see how far you’ve come”. Change takes time. And you have your whole life for changes to occur. Do little things consistently and you WILL notice a difference.
8. Become a qualitarian
You get out what you put in. Give yourself the best quality food. Dump the junk as much as possible.
9. Sort out your cupboards
Chuck out anything that is out of date and hasn’t been used for years. Clean the shelves and take stock of what you have. Being clean and organised brings about clarity and may give you an incentive to try new things. I place all oats, dried fruit, nibs, powders, nuts and seeds in glass jars and dedicate a set of shelves only to these ingredients. It is easier to use them when they are at arms reach and no awkward packaging is involved.
10. Feed your brain with vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for serotonin (happy hormone) production, mental clarity and for strong bones and muscle. Take a vitamin D3 (10mcg) supplement between October and April to protect against the Winter blues. We get vitamin D mainly from the sun through our skin. Animals are out in the sunshine more than humans (especially in the UK!). This is why we can get some vitamin D through meat and dairy, as it is passed down the food chain. Mushrooms which have been out in the sun are also a good source of vitamin D.