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Your Health isn't just for January

How many of you set new year's resolutions in January that you fail to keep? Like everyone else, I used to start January with some big promises of exercising daily, getting more than 8 hours of sleep a night, eating 5 a day and committing to 'Dry January'. I then get to the 31st of January feeling deflated that, yet again, I haven't hit these health goals.


This year I'm doing things differently. I didn't set 'impossible to reach' new year's resolutions and I'm not thinking about my health only in January. Now the onslaught of January healthy marketing messages has subsided, there is no better time to think about the small, realistic readjustments you can make for better health. It is the small, consistent changes we make that can have a long lasting impact on our health.


To inspire you, some leading UK dietitians share their simple tips for better health.  

1. Try inclusion, not exclusion


Improving gut health is all about inclusion, not exclusion. Restrictive diets can starve the gut microbiome which is detrimental to gut health long term. Aim for 30 different plant based foods per week to increase gut microbiome diversity.


Kaitlin Colucci


2.There is no such thing as a bad food.


The reality is THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A BAD FOOD. Too much of anything, even if it's a good thing can become bad in a hurry.


It's all about balance. It may not sound as sexy as the “food rules” or fads that you may you maybe following, but I promise you it is the cornerstone of good nutrition for the now and the future. AND it is also most definitely the pleasurable way to eat!


Dr. Linia Patel


3. Go nuts!


Go nuts! Scatter your favourite nuts over a plant-based meal to add high quality protein.


Azmina Govindji


4. Choose frozen or ugly produce


To eat healthy and to also reduce your food waste, stock up on a variety of frozen fruit and vegetables. This is a great way to get your 5 a day! They also contain as many nutrients as the fresh ones if not more! Frozen tend to be cheaper than fresh, last longer and therefore reduce your food waste because you would only use what you need!


If you are buying fresh produce though, don’t discard ‘ugly’ wonky fresh fruit and veg, the ones that don’t pass the ‘aesthetics police’. They tend to be higher in antioxidants because of their increased plant defences which result in those weird shapes, scabs and dents when these plants are under external attacks from insects for example, so those high levels antioxidants benefit us too when we eat them.


Anna Pettit


5. Don't just focus on food


Instead of focusing just on food, try expanding this and working on small changes you can make to your sleep, movement, self care, mental health, hydration and lifestyle. For example improving your sleep can impact your nutrition, making time to move your body daily can help you feel great and aids digestion, building in breathwork or meditation can help you digestive system and mental health.


Priya Tew


6. Add 1


'Add 1’ - meaning add one thing to each of your meals that will add some extra nutrients.

That could be a piece of fruit added to breakfast, a carrot or handful of cherry tomatoes on the side of your lunch, a handful of oats thrown into a smoothie, a sprinkle of seeds in your yoghurt or soup, a drizzle of olive oil on your salad or a few nuts to your afternoon snack.

Variety is a great way to boost nutrient density but research also suggests that a varied diet is beneficial for your gut microbes too. Win win!


Laura Tilt


7. Make a plan


Make a plan, this will help you to stay on track, avoid food wastage whilst saving you money!


Anna Hardman


8. Think about what you can include


Think about how you can include in your diet rather than take out! A wider variety of plant-based products will not only boost your vitamin and mineral intake, studies have shown that within a few short weeks it can increase the diversity of your gut bacteria, which is linked to improved mental and physical health. You will have more energy, increased resilience to illness and feel less deprived!


Lucy Kerrison


9. Omega 3


Always make sure you’re having at least two portions of fish per week and that one portion is oily fish. If you’re not having this or you’re a vegan, supplement with algae oil or fish oils. The omega-3 in fish and algae is so important for protecting the structure of your brain for the future and managing inflammation in your body.


Sophie Medlin


10. Feel your fullness


How your body recognises and responds to hunger and fullness is largely controlled by your genes. You are born with an innate ability to recognise when you are satisfied, but this quickly disappears when others start to control how much you’re ‘allowed’ to consume.


Add onto this the layer of judgmental diet culture that tells you you ought to be satisfied if you eat like this, or you only need that much, and you switch off those signals, override them, ignore them. Over time they also get a bit screwed up and stop working for you. Until you tune back in.


Laura Clark


11. Up the fibre


Adding more fibre to your diet is important for a healthy gut. Try adding fresh or frozen fruit to your brekkie with a sprinkle of nuts and seeds to get a fibre boost!


Catherine Rabess


12. Get help


Don’t suffer in silence – go get help from the right health professionals.


As a dietitian who specialises in coeliac disease I see so many patients who have either never spoken to a dietitian or have just had a couple of appointments near their diagnosis and years later are now just figuring out things on their own and getting stuck


Cristian Costas


13. Be mindful when you eat


Eating too fast does not allow time for the brain to catch up and register you are full. This can lead to overeating, which can lead to feeling full and bloated and worsen acid reflux. Chewing well helps with digestion and helps you to slow down, which can prevent you from overeating.


Christel Lyell


14. Variety is key


No matter what 'free from' diet you follow, ensure you eat as wide a variety of food types as you are able too.


Julie Thompson


15. See a dietitian


The FODMAP has transformed the care for those suffering with IBS and seeing a specialist dietitian can make doing the diet less daunting and more successful!


Marianne Williams

16. Eat a rainbow


Try not to get into a rut of eating the same foods day after day or week after week - the more different kinds and colours of fruit, vegetables and wholesgrains you can include the better!


Evelyn Toner


17. Embrace plant power


You don't necessarily have to become vegetarian or vegan, but adding in more plant-based foods to your diet can help you gain some of the health benefits mentioned above. You can start by adding in plant-based foods to what you’re eating already or try one or two plant-based eating days per week.


Harpreet Sohal

18. Make one change at a time


We are always so keen to follow an all or nothing approach. Try to make one change at a time as it's easier to get that new habit to stick and reap the long term benefits of consistent health changes. Never underestimate the power of the small changes!


Sasha Watkins

Sasha Watkins

Registered dietitian and co-founder of Field Doctor

IG: @sashadietitian

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