A new year always feels like a fresh start. Time to turn over a new leaf and to look ahead with fresh eyes and renewed vigour. After the sugary coated excesses of Christmas and the boozy festivities of New Year’s Eve, nourishing your weary holiday-ed out body can be a good way to get life back on track. As a nutritionist, I often get asked what my personal top tips are for feeling great.
Start your day with a bang
I struggle eating breakfast first thing in the morning. Actually. I really dislike it. I hate being in a hurry, and downing a bowl of last resort cereal is stuff from my nightmares. It makes me irritable and grumpy and that’s not a good way to start the day. But that’s just me, I’ve got plenty of friends who are as happy as eating their brekkie first thing. I often here ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ but what I think is that it should be ‘start the day as you mean to go on’, regardless of what time of day that is. Listen to yo’ body, and when you need to eat, eat, and eat well. The problem is in defining what time breakfast is, but there’s ample evidence to support starting your day nutritiously rather than skipping it all together.
I try and work with my body, so yes I leave the house on an empty stomach, but I nearly always have my breakfast in hand ready for when I do feel like it. I focus on having a source of protein and a heaps of fibre for a great start to my day – it keeps me full and keeps my energy levels balanced through until lunch. My favourite at the moment is a jar filled with a generous scoop of Low-Fat Greek yogurt, All Bran, berries and some tasty nutty muesli sprinkled on top. Nothing fancy but damn it tastes good. Start the day as you mean to go on, and make breakfast work for you – you’re the breakfast BOSS.
Kickstart Breakfast Formula
|Tofu/Almond Butter||+||Oat Bran||+||Greens, Banana Smoothie|
|Low-Fat Greek Yogurt||+||All Bran Cereal||+||Berries, Nutty Muesli|
|Free-Range Eggs||+||Wholegrain Toast||+||Spinach/Tomato/Avocado|
|Walnuts||+||Overnight Oats||+||Mango, Passionfruit|
|Chia Seed Pudding||+||Ground Flaxseeds||+||Seasonal Fruit|
Where to get credible nutrition information
Avoid websites that look too good. I’m kind of joking. But seriously, when I was going through my credible and reliable list of resources for this article, pretty much all of my ‘go-tos’ are government organisation Mary-Jane-style websites. I guess that’s the nature of the business, we’re just a bunch of geeks who aren’t that big on tech. If you’re unsure about a nutrition-related question, then google one of the website names below with your question to take you straight there. If that comes up empty, you could try googling your question with ‘Dietitian’ in the search engine instead. At least that way you know that whatever you’re reading has been written by a dietitian who’s had at least four years of intensive training in nutrition, so you’d like to think you’re going to be getting the right advice.
Swap ‘No’ for a more nutritious ‘Yes’
Does anyone like the word diet? In fact, does anyone like dieting? Trying to eat the right foods, and look after your body shouldn’t be a punishment. Let’s be honest now –it’s NORMAL to want to eat comfort food. Food is your body’s natural reward, and evolution has hardwired us to find eating pleasurable in order to sustain ourselves. Our body responds to eating by activating the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine, releasing pleasure hormones.
When we are especially hungry or stressed our body prompts us to seek out foods high in sugar and fat not only for good sources energy, but for pleasure relief. Back in our Palaeolithic days, this might have been a prompt to go scavenging for berries, but in the modern world it can feel almost impossible to avoid added sugars, hijacking our body and over stimulating our brain’s reward pathway. Acknowledging to yourself that your body is just doing it’s ‘thang’, understanding that it’s OK, and having your own reward strategy in place is key to avoiding that ‘what the hell’ effect that can leave you elbow-deep rustling around the proverbial cookie jar. Maybe you have super-human strength and choose to not have anything at all, but for the rest of us mere mortals, having a back-up treat is key to enjoying yourself without the stress.
My go-to treat is a date stuffed with roasted peanut butter, hmmm delicious! I can almost hear you whisper – wait but isn’t that high in sugar and fat too? Yep, kind of, but you know what, that’s ok! Because it’s a more nutritious whole food choice. Sugar and fat aren’t the devil. Our body needs them. It’s managing the quantity and quality while being gentle on ourselves that’s important.
– Craving…? Download the FoodSwitch App –it’s a life saver. This app has got your back, just scan the barcode and it’ll show you a traffic light green ‘go’, amber ‘sometimes’ and red ‘occasionally’, as well as suggesting similar snack items that are a more nutritious ‘green’ option.
– Some great swaps I like are sweet herbal teas, dates and peanut butter, green smoothies, homemade popcorn with extra virgin olive oil, and I’m a sucker for extra dark chocolate.
– Have your kids spent all day baking your favourite triple chocolate brownie? Cut yourself a smallish slice, go slow and savour every goddamn mouthful, with no regrets. The joy of sharing food with family and friends is just as important to a balanced life as a vibrant happy human.
” Start the day as you mean to go on,
and make breakfast work for you
– you’re the breakfast BOSS.”
Interested to know more? Emily is available for nutrition consultations through her website www.nutritionlarder.com, or like and follow her online Facebook community Nutrition Bite for legit and up-to-date nutrition videos.