When setting new targets this January aim to do something that is sustainable for you. We have all heard the statistics about how people fall off their "diet" and are back to bad habits by the end of January, and that is exactly what you want to avoid.
Instead, think about it as lifestyle choices rather than a diet, so let's look at a sensible and sustainable approach to your health goals this new year.
What have you done to yourself?
Besides the increase in body fat, there are other potential health implications of over-consumption of alcohol, processed foods, pies, cakes and other unhealthy treats. Look at this list: energy fluctuations, fatigue, moodiness, reduced metabolic rate, increased stress hormones, increased triglyceride (fats in blood) levels, increased insulin resistance and increased VLDL cholesterol levels (bad cholesterol).
Additionally, if you haven't been exercising, the enzymes in muscles that burn fats as a source of energy are lowered, which means you are more likely to store body fat.
If you have partied particularly hard this Christmas, you may have also done some damage to your liver. Drinking excessively results in inflammatory responses and production of molecules known as free radicals, which results in liver cell damage causing a sort of scarring.
It doesn't stop there, in relation to excessive food intake something called "fatty liver" can occur if your Christmas binge has lasted weeks rather than days.
WHERE TO START -- YOUR MINDSET!
Good nutrition can only be accomplished by consistently applying the right dietary habits.
The most important aspects in approaching your dietary "reset" is to be doing it for the right reasons and being consistent.
Doing something as a token gesture as a short-term attempt of being healthy will offer little benefit to you in the long-term. Make a plan to make the process of eating healthy easier and set some realistic targets.
Simple targets like drinking green tea twice per day, eating three portions of green vegetables per day, not eating late in the evening and so forth can work well. Other practical suggestions include designing a food shopping list specific to you, buying a healthy recipe book, and setting some weekly exercise targets.
RESETTING YOUR DIETARY HABITS
What should you do to "fix" or "reset" your diet anytime you feel like you have gone off track? Below are some basic principles you can use to get back on:
Eat predominantly unprocessed and whole foods.
Eat more vegetables and less carbohydrate-rich foods (sugary or starchy).
Incorporate more fresh herbs and spices into meals.
If you look at a label and don't understand the ingredients, then don't eat it.
Avoid sugary drinks; water, teas, coffee as your only fluid sources.
A protein-rich breakfast is a good start to the day.
CUTTING BACK ON YOUR CARBS
Over the past few weeks, you are likely to have consumed huge amounts of carbohydrate foods, both good and bad.
In the absence of regular exercise, this will mean that your carbohydrate stores (glycogen) will be saturated, which is partly responsible for a state of insulin resistance that predisposes you to then store energy as fat.
In order to restore insulin sensitivity by reducing these energy stores, you can deplete them by a combination of moderate-to-high intensity exercise and a reduction in your intake of carbohydrates.
Aim to consume more foods with lower carbohydrate content such as fresh berries, leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Once you are happy with your progress and feel you are achieving your body composition and fitness goals, you can re-introduce some slow-digesting carbohydrate foods on intense training days.
Your approach and mindset to your post-Christmas nutrition is as important as the foods you decide to eat. Set realistic goals that you can stick to in the long-term rather than trying to do extreme short-term fads that offer limited healthy benefits.
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Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.
Evangeline has taken part in competitive sports since a young age. As a qualified RYA Dinghy Instructor, she understands the importance of proper nutrition for fuelling extreme and endurance sports, especially due to her experience in Team GBR Squads and captaining and coaching her University first team.
In her spare time, Evangeline loves running – especially marathons. On the weekends, you’ll find her taking on water sports or hiking up a hill. Her favourite evenings are spent taking on a HIIT session or squats in the gym before digging into some spicy food and a ton of vegetables – yum!
Find out more about Evie's experience here.