This is that time of year when we start to create new resolutions and set an intention for new habits. In the past I’ve normally made mine around health and how I would improve it, either through more exercise or diet, normally the latter. For me, a woman, I don’t think I’m alone. Other women around me would enter the office come January eating their 200 calorie soups, new gym membership in hand and on a kick to lose weight. The media is showing photographs of beautiful air-brushed bodies signalling how you can lose weight fast, get the stomach “we’ve always wanted” and the thigh gap we don’t need. Then comes the confusing messaging – Count calories or don’t calories; High carb-low fat, versus high fat-low carb. It’s a nightmare and it’s confusing and so many simply end up throwing their hands up in the air saying it’s too hard.
Now don’t get me wrong, I like new year’s resolutions, but I also like my goals achievable. Yes a stretch-goal is good but a goal that will inevitably fail by February is no fun for anyone and well, no one likes to “fail”.
So, about 4 years ago now I made a change. A big one. I decided to cut animal products (in all forms) out of my diet, and by diet I simply mean what I eat, not the calorie counting kind. I originally made this change for my health following a serious amount of research but the environmental and animal welfare benefits are equally important to me. As a result of this change, my life, my health and that of my family’s have shifted in ways I could never have ever imagined.
If you want to get healthy this coming year and are at all conflicted and confused about how to do it here are a few simple tips that I’ve picked up and live by. As a result I will never have to “lose weight” as part of my new year’s resolutions again.
1. Eat whole foods – simply put this means eating foods as close to their natural state which in turn means we are getting more nutrients. Think about an orange (whole food) versus orange squash (processed) the former has lots of fibre, vitamins and nutrients, the latter has most of this good stuff taken out and added colours, flavours, sugars and preservatives added in. By opting for foods close to their natural state we’re maximising nutrients which is great for our health.
2. Select foods with a minimum number of ingredients
I thank a great lecture from the amazing Michael Pollen at The London School of Economics for this tip – listen to it here. If you’re making a vegetable pasta sauce you would probably use a range of fresh vegetables and herbs. If you buy it in a jar there will be many ingredients that aren’t actual “foods”, in addition to the veggies you’ll find preservatives, salt and sugar. I say keep it simple and wherever possible make the time to make it yourself. Another nice tip that’s linked to this is, if you can’t pronounce an ingredient, don’t eat it!
3. Eat more plants – regardless of whether you’re vegetarian, vegan or a self-confessed carnivore we can all agree that fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes are good for us and we’d be healthier if we ate more of them. Five a day is a great start but with a basic repertoire of recipes we can get even better. Packed full of fibre, vitamins, minerals and nutrients and naturally cholesterol free we are only benefitting – so make this coming year one where plants are the star of your plate.
So, in 2017 rather than opting for a ‘weight loss diet’ opt for a change in diet that will result in long-term healthfulness that can be sustained way after everyone else’s new year resolutions have fizzled out.
Rowena is the Owner and Founder of V-Curious – she runs supper clubs, private dining and cooking classes, and works 1-2-1 with people empowering them to get healthy through an informative and practical approach to getting healthy through food. In January she’ll be running a workshop at HQ Therapy entitled Cutting the Confusion. This half-day workshop encompasses practical cookery demonstrations, interactive discussions and easy to implement tips and plans on how to make healthy food choices – book here.