With the new year comes a whole raft of detox diets, weight-loss hacks and “body blitzing” tips. Unfortunately, the majority of such campaigns only try to have consumers spend money on products or services that have little to no benefits, as:
There is no miracle product that will detox your body. In fact, there is no need to detox at all. Your liver and kidneys do this all the time
The majority of weight-loss hacks only work in the short term, if anything. It has been estimated that no more than 20% of participants who complete weight-based lifestyle interventions maintain weight loss one year later
Intense diets and restrictions are found to lead to binge-restrict cycles, leading to weight-cycling, which is an independent risk factor for increased inflammation, as well as a number of chronic diseases, such as hypertension, insulin resistance and dyslipidaemia
So rather than spending money on things that don’t work, here are 5 nutritional habits that will help you become the healthiest version of yourself
Embrace fibre. UK guidelines recommend 30g of fibre a day, while in reality most people only consume just over half of that. In healthy people, the additional fibre will enhance gut health, help regulate blood glucose levels and help regulate blood pressure. Aside from providing an array of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, vegetables are a great source of fibre. Examples of fibrous vegetables are sun-dried tomatoes (13.5g of fibre per 100g) artichokes (10g of fibre per 100g), and dates (9g per 100g). However, it’s not just vegetables that are good sources of fibre. Other sources include fruit, beans, pulses, nuts and whole grains. In whole-wheat pasta, for instance, total fibre content per 100g of pasta is 13g, while in white pasta it is 1g. More information on the benefits of whole grains can be found in the blog post Grains - Friend or Foe.
Eat without distractions. So many of us eat while reading emails, watching TV or scrolling through social media. Not paying attention to the food while you eat has been shown to impair sensory cues, such as taste and feelings of satiation. This leads to increased desire for sugar, salt and fat, as well as increased calorie consumption.
Assess your state of fullness mid meal. In order to avoid the feeling of being overly full, which can be uncomfortable and lead to excessive feeling of sluggishness and fatigue, pause mid-meal, put down your knife and fork and assess how full you are on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is absolutely starving and 10 is post-Christmas meal kind of full. This helps being more aware about how much and what you eat, and how the particular food makes you feel.
Don’t forget to drink enough water. Whilst your body’s thirst mechanisms are excellent, feelings of thirst occur when a mild dehydration level of only 1-2% is met. Even such mild dehydration levels have been found to trigger fatigue, disturb mood and limit concentration, particularly in females, who have been found to be more susceptible to the adverse effects of mild dehydration.
Aim for macro and micro nutrient balanced meals. Especially at this time of the year it’s popular to restrict certain foods, be it starchy carbohydrates, meat or sugar. Veganuary, for instance, is increasing in popularity, whereby a vegan diet is followed for the month of January. This is no problem, as long as it is done with awareness and prior information. In the example of veganuary, while a vegan diet can be very healthy, it comes with less availability of certain nutrients, such as complete sources of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, calcium, and vitamin B12. It is therefore important to find alternatives that may not be part of your otherwise habitual diet for the period of restriction, in order to ensure that all macro and micro-nutrient needs are met.