Now that we’re three weeks into January, the festive binge seems a long time ago, along with pledges to eat healthily this year. January can be a tough month for eating healthily – the weather is cold and it seems a never ending wait until the next payday. It’s easy to see why it’s so tempting to reach for unhealthy, comfort foods. But if you’ve already started eating a predominantly unhealthy diet again, there are some ways to get back on track with your healthy eating goals.
As I’ve already talked about in a previous post, I struggle during winter, but I find keeping to a healthy diet helps to get me through. Here are some of the ways I manage to eat healthily during winter.
Meal plan and prep
Juggling work, training and a social life means that I’m busy almost all the time. So during the week I rarely have time to cook healthy meals. Instead, I make sure I’ve always got something healthy for dinner through meal planning and prepping. As I have more time at the weekend, I use this time to prepare meals for the coming week and I know exactly what I’ll be eating on which days. Although this might sound boring and unspontaneous, it does mean I’m able to eat healthy meals no matter how busy I am.
I have a really sweet tooth so it would be almost impossible for me to stick to eating healthily if I didn’t allow myself any treats. Twice a week I will usually allow myself an unhealthy treat – usually on a Wednesday and Friday, as this helps me to get through the week. While at the weekends I’m usually a little bit more flexible with my diet and more spontaneous with my meals. This means I can opt for something a little bit more unhealthy (within reason) than I would normally eat during the week.
Healthy comfort foods
Instead of reaching for unhealthy comfort foods, I try and opt for healthy alternatives during winter. One of my favourites is mix bean chili, while I also often eat homemade curries, soups and baked sweet potatoes a lot at this time of year, along with making my own pizzas. I find that eating these meals means that I don’t feel that I’m missing out on what I want to eat, but am still able to eat healthily.
Aim for 5 a day
While it can be difficult to eat salads and fruits during the winter, I still aim to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. I will try to sneak vegetables into almost all of my meals, including breakfast, to bump up my veg intake. I also keep my fruit bowl full so that I have healthy snacks I can grab and eat quickly if I’m really hungry.
What to avoid if you want to eat healthily
Takeaways – I almost never eat takeaways. I find them expensive and too full of unnecessary sugar, salt and unhealthy fats and offer very little nutritional content.
Sugary drinks – this includes alcohol, coffees and hot chocolates. While the occasional unhealthy drink is fine, if you’re drinking these everyday the calories and sugars can quickly mount up and, again, they often don’t provide much nutrition.
Celebrity diets – not just celebrity diets, but any diet that is not recommended by a qualified dietitian or nutritionist should be avoided. Often they will lead to quick results, but more often than not, all the weight is regained.
Expect quick results – if you’re aiming to lose weight and improve your health, there are no shortcuts or quick fixes. Instead you’ve got to make lifestyle changes and ideally seek advice from a professional, qualified nutritionist or dietitian so that you can make adjustments to your diet that are sustainable in the long-term and which will provide real results.