Make 2024 the year that you feed your digestive system better

Eating more of the good stuff is far healthier than simply eating less, says Jane McClenaghan

Prevention is better than cure - drink a glass of water between drinks

How are you feeling? Stuffed full of leftovers and fed up with turkey? Already thinking about your January diet?

If you are feeling the fug of these restful days between Christmas and New Year, you might be starting to reflect on your goals for the new year, but before you do that, take a moment to consider all the things that you already do for the good of your health. We all have them – from drinking water to eating broccoli, what are your healthy habits?

New Year’s resolutions can be so extreme that by mid-January we are back into our bad old habits. How about this year you commit to a different resolution. To eat more, not less. More of the good stuff that makes you feel good and keeps you healthy. Here are some ideas to consider.

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Eat 5-7 portions of fruit and vegetables every day

Remember that one portion is 80g. That’s about the size of your fist. To hit the 5-7 target every day, we need to start at breakfast. Berries in your yoghurt, grated apple in your porridge, spinach with your omelette. Add a bowl or soup or seasonal salad to lunch and pack half your plate with vegetables at teatime. Forget lettuce and tomato in the depths of winter and eat the best produce of the season. Clementines, carrots, kale, Brussels sprouts, beetroot and leeks, cabbage and radicchio are all at their best at this time of year.

Get more spices and herbs into your diet

Herbs and spices are packed with plant chemicals with very specific health benefits, so the more we can pack into our diet the better. Some of my favourites are cinnamon, turmeric, garlic, ginger, cardamon, rosemary and thyme.

Drink enough water

Most of us should be aiming for about a litre and a half of water every day. Fill up that fancy water bottle you got for Christmas and get sipping. Herb teas count as your water intake, but remember that tea and coffee have a diuretic effect, so are not as effective for hydration.

Eat more wholegrains

Swap out your white carbs and go wholegrain. You will be getting more fibre and feeling full for longer. Higher fibre diets have been associated with everything from improving our digestion to helping our waistlines, supporting heart health and hormone balance. Try different wholegrains like quinoa or buckwheat alongside brown rice, jumbo oats and wholewheat pasta.

Get ready for 2024
Get ready for 2024 with some diet changes (Dilok Klaisataporn/Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Pack more pulses into your diet

Beans and lentils are great fillers. They will contribute a decent hit of fibre and protein to your diet and they are a great way of making your meat go further in stews, chilli and curry.

Fill up on fermented foods

Make 2024 the year that you feed your digestive system better. Give your gut a probiotic boost with foods like kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi or kombucha. These fermented foods are teaming with healthy bacteria that help support a diverse and abundant gut microbiome.

Pack more protein onto your plate

Protein will help to regulate your appetite, reduce cravings and may even help support better energy levels. Eggs, meat, fish, chicken, nuts and seeds, beans and lentils, cheese, yoghurt, tofu or quinoa are all decent choices. Aim to make your protein portion about a quarter of your plate at every meal.

Eat more healthy fats

Fat is an essential nutrient, so rather than cut it out, resolve to eat more of the good sort. Omega 3 and 6 from oily fish, nuts and seeds and monounsaturated fats from olive oil are important for metabolism and appetite control, so if you want to lose a few pounds after Christmas, opt for better fats, not low fat!

Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year.