Top tips from the senior weight management dietician at Heartlands Hospital
Sarah Martin, senior weight management dietician at Heartlands Hospital, on how to kick start a fit and healthy 2016
January marks the start of a new year and getting fit and healthy is one of the most common resolutions made.
Drastic diets and exercise schedules that result in rapid weight loss are unlikely to work for long as these types of lifestyle changes are difficult to maintain. Getting into shape will not happen overnight and it will take time.
Making small changes to your diet and lifestyle can make a big difference to your health and how you feel. The important thing is to make the changes realistic and maintainable, don’t change everything at once. My advice is to make one or two simple changes that you know you can stick to and see how you progress. If you manage to sustain them, then make a couple more.
So what can you do to transform yourself into a fit and healthy well-being?
Physical activity is far easier than you might think, especially when it is something you enjoy. Just 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise is enough to get the ball rolling and it doesn’t necessarily mean joining the gym. Dancing, walking, hoovering, jogging, gardening, cycling and sports are all great ways to get your body moving. Simple things such as parking further away from the supermarket door, taking the stairs or getting off a bus stop early can make a big difference. Getting your heart rate up is important. Your heart is a muscle and needs a workout if it is to stay strong and healthy. Sprint training is ideal but any short bursts of energy are only ever a good thing.
Having the right diet is essential as well. A variety of colour is usually a good sign of a healthy plate of food – especially plenty of green. A plate full of yellow and brown is most likely to be unhealthy. Protein is essential for your body to heal. White meat, fish, eggs, beans and pulses are all tasty and healthy sources of protein.
Try to avoid refined sugar wherever possible. If you feel as though you need a sweet hit then go for some fruit or honey. Dried fruit and nuts make an ideal tasty healthy snack. Remember to drink plenty of water. Many of us go through life dehydrated and wonder why we feel lethargic and groggy. We also often mistake thirst for hunger. So sip a glass of water before reaching for the snack cupboard.
The way we cook our food also affects its nutritional value. Frying is the least healthy way to cook anything, unless it is pan-fried dry or with little oil (preferably olive or rapeseed). Grilling is a far healthier way to cook meat as the fat drips off it. Poaching is ideal for eggs and you can also poach white meats and fish. Steaming vegetables not only minimises their loss of goodness but also locks in the flavour. In fact you can pretty much steam anything and the same applies.
For more information and advice on how to get fit and healthy, please visit www.nhs.uk.