Author: Dr. Muireann Cullen
Christmas has come and gone and the time for New Year Resolutions has begun. Being healthy over the silly season may have been particularly challenging and the overindulgence can result in the average person putting “lose some weight” top of their New Year’s resolution list.
On average, people can gain up to 2 kg (4.4lbs) in the four-week Christmas period – over indulgence (where people can consume up to 7,000 calories on Christmas Day alone!), and reduced levels of physical activity are the main reasons for this weight gain.
However, there is no need to despair, the Nutrition and Health Foundation have put together some tips to help you to stay healthy
1. Breakfast is vital
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet far too many people believe that by skipping it, they are doing themselves a favour. However, the opposite is true: Breakfast can be a valuable source of nutrients and people who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight. They’re also more mentally alert in the mornings. Children who eat breakfast perform better at school and have better concentration than those who don‘t. So the message is clear – breakfast is vital.
2. Eat 3 varied meals per day
It’s official! When you eat and what you eat makes a difference. People who eat three meals per day are less likely to indulge in grazing and snacking. It’s a good idea to include a wide variety of food in your meals. That way you’re more likely to ensure that you get all the nutrients you need. So remember, three varied meals per day is the only healthy way!
3. Keep treats as treats
It’s all too easy to eat more treat foods than we should. This is because they’re not as filling as more nutritious foods of similar energy content. So next time, look at the calorie and saturated fat content and be aware of what’s in the treat.
4. Size matters
It’s obvious: Bigger portions contain more calories, so by cutting portion size, we can lose weight or maintain body weight. A good tip is to use smaller plates – that way the plate looks full, but the portion is smaller.
5. Plan for days when you’re too tired to cook
It’s easy to plan ahead for the days when you’re too tired to make a meal. Next time you’re cooking, simply prepare more than you need, and freeze in individual portions. That way, you’ll have good, nutritious home cooked food when you really need it. And even if you’ve nothing in the freezer, remember that eggs and fruit are great convenience foods, you could have an omelette on your plate or a delicious smoothie prepared faster than you’d have a delivery from the local take away.
6. Get active
We all know that exercise is good for us, but did you know that it may help prevent osteoporosis and diabetes and that it reduces the risk of fracture? Exercise makes us feel better, but still, far too many of us never make time for it. The secret is to choose exercise you enjoy. It could be a spin on your bike, a walk in the park, or a game of tennis with a friend. It could even be a walk to the shops. Once it’s something that you look forward to, you’re more likely to keep it up. And remember that it’s not just your body that benefits, so too does your sense of well being. Research shows that exercise relieves stress and contributes to good mental health.
7. Start by exercising for 30 minutes
By taking as little as 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day (either at the one time or in two bouts of 15 minutes), you’ll be well on the way to improving your fitness and feeling great. Then, when you’re ready for more, you can increase the length and intensity of your exercise.
And remember, that if it’s been a while since you’ve taken any exercise, or if you have any concerns about your health, check with your doctor before embarking on a fitness regime. Either way, take it easy, and build strength and stamina slowly. And regardless of physical activity levels, adequate fluid intake (about 8 glasses a day) is important.
8. Weigh yourself once a month
It’s a good idea to weigh yourself once a month, because that way, you can get better control of your weight. So for example, make the first Friday of every month your weighing day, and remember that unintentional changes in body weight may be due to an underlying cause, so always seek medical advice if you are concerned.
9. Take control over what you eat
Nearly a quarter of the food we eat is sourced outside the home, which means that we‘re often in the dark about exactly what it is we‘re eating. Everything in moderation with nothing in excess is the key to a balanced diet.
10. Eat according to your lifestyle
Eat a varied diet according to your lifestyle. Remember that a labourer needs more calories than an office worker. Adjust your intake to suit your needs.
Dr. Muireann Cullen,
Nutrition and Health Foundation
Ph: 01 605 1677
E mail: HYPERLINK “mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org” email@example.com
Website: HYPERLINK “http://www.nhfireland.ie” www.nhfireland.ie
Short bio: Muireann joined the Food and Drink sector of the Irish Business and Employer’s Confederation in January 2008, to manage the Nutrition and Health Foundation. She has a wide range of dietetic experience spanning research, clinical and private practice, regulatory, public health and industry. Muireann obtained a PhD in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from Trinity College Dublin in 2001. She is both a member of the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute and the Nutrition Society.
Organisation: Nutrition and Health Foundation
The Nutrition & Health Foundation has a multi-stakeholder approach to addressing the health challenges of our nation, by bringing together industry, government, state agencies, internationally recognised scientists, health professionals and other relevant stakeholders. It’s mission is to communicate HYPERLINK “http://www.nhfireland.ie/Sectors/NHF/NHF.nsf/vPages/NHF_Initiatives~research?OpenDocument” evidence based information on nutrition, health and physical activity to encourage an improved and healthier society in Ireland.