Food & drink

Nutrition with Jane McClenaghan: Change just one thing to beat the new year blues

Starting to make a positive change to your diet doesn't get easier than drinking more water
Jane McClenaghan

THE middle of January can be a challenging time. Pay day is not here yet, the initial enthusiasm for our 'new year, new you' plans are starting to wane and the weather is enough to get you down.

January is a time to be gentle with ourselves. We are still in the middle of winter, so opting for salads and detoxes at this time of the year just seems counterintuitive.

Of course it is important to feed ourselves well and nourish our bodies with good nutrition, but that doesn't have to mean a diet of restriction and deprivation. Throw out the diet books and detox shakes and get real. Get back to basics, eat real food and bring some joy back into your food choices.

Rather than setting yourself unrealistic goals for a quick fix diet, do yourself a favour and keep things simple. Commit to making one change every week and before you know if you will be feeling happier, healthier, fitter and more energised.

Here are some ideas to work on. Choose one thing to focus on this week. I would suggest that you choose the easiest one on the list, or the one you would enjoy the most, and then set yourself a reminder for next week's goal to help keep you focused and move your diet in the right direction.

:: Get hydrated

Aim for 6-8 glasses of water a day (about 1.5-2 litres). Have a glass as soon you wake up, another with lunch and one with dinner. Fill a water bottle and commit to drinking that each day. Replace one or two of your teas or coffees with herbal tea or hot water with a slice of lemon and ginger.

:: Eat more plants

You don't have to do 'veganuary' to benefit form the powerful effect of eating more fruit, vegetables, beans, lentils and wholegrains. These foods form the basis of most healthy diets, and the more diverse and varied your intake of plant foods, the better.

Aim to eat between 5 and 7 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, and get as much colour as you can.

Forget jackfruit and avocado and eat fruit and veg that are local and seasonal to have the biggest impact with the least food miles.

:: Time your meals

If you have never tried intermittent fasting before, then there can be real benefits to eating within a 10-12 hour window every day. Allowing yourself a decent fasting period of at least 12 hours overnight has been show to help support cardiovascular health, immunity, weight control and blood sugar regulation.

If breakfast is usually at 7am, then try nudging it half an hour later to 7.30am and finish all your food for the day by 7.30pm, or eat between 9am and 7pm for a few days and see how that makes you feel.

:: Switch to healthy fats

A handful of nuts and seeds every day, some oily fish each week (from a sustainable source), a drizzle of olive oil over salads and steamed veg - all of this will soon add up to a better balance of healthy fats in your diet. Your whole body will benefit - from your head to your toes - your brain, cardiovascular system, immunity, skin, hair, nails, and even your waistline.

:: Enjoy your food

Bring a little joy back into your food. Get creative with some simple new recipes that tickle your tastebuds and then sit down at the table and enjoy the delicious plate of food you have prepared yourself. Savour the aroma, flavour, textures and colours on your plate. The more we take notice of the food we eat and how it makes us feel, the more likely we are to make choices that help us to feel good without needing a diet or detox.

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