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Now that Christmas is over and the new year is fast approaching, everyone starts to feel reflective and begins to think about what they would kind to achieve in the next year ahead. Where your health and well being is concerned why not forget about waiting until 1st January and start getting back on track today?

Faddy diets and juice fasts are prominent at this time of year. However, these for the majority are quick fixes that result in a perpetual cycle of yo-yo dieting and not feeling as fabulous as one should. Healthy living for me is about making lifestyle changes that in the long term will have you feeling at your optimum best – we all deserve to sparkle and shine!

If you are looking to pursue a healthier lifestyle and are asking yourself “where do I start?” then fear not. I’ve put together a new series on the blog, which consists of nutritionally led content to inspire those looking to improve their health or wanting to get back on track.

After a long period of over indulging it can be difficult to break out of the old routine. By making some small and simple changes, slow but surely, you will be back on track and one step closer to a healthier you.  Below I have re-shared some of my own tips that have helped me along the way on my own healthy living journey.

1. Swap white for brown

Simply by changing the types of carbohydrates that you eat you will see a massive difference to the way that you feel and a change in your eating patterns.

White starchy carbohydrates such as potatoes, rice and pasta tend to be highly processed and stripped of most of their nutritional benefits.  They are also the culprits of causing bloating in some individuals and can cause spikes in your blood sugar levels when eaten in excessive amounts.

Instead try and swap these white foods for brown wholegrains such as wholemeal pasta, rice, bread and incorporate grains such as quinoa and bulgar wheat into your diet. Wholegrain food releases their energy much slower than white carbohydrates, which means that you will stay fuller for longer.  They also have multiple nutritional benefits too.

2. Drink more water

More often than not, when our bellies rumble we automatically think that we are hungry.  However, hunger pangs can also signify thirst.

Before reaching for a snack to quench your hunger try drinking a glass of water first to make sure that you are not thirsty.  Obviously if the hunger persists then reach for that snack. Additionally, drinking water over fizzy drinks will cut down your sugar intake massively, keep you hydrated and keeps your skin looking radiant.  You can also add a slice of lemon or lime to jazz it up a little bit.

Aim to drink around 2 litres of water a day.

3. Portion control

A lot of the time we eat more than what our body needs.  I’m all for giving your body what it needs but listening to your body also means knowing when you are full and eating consciously. This can be really difficult and can take a lot of practice.

Another tip concerning portions is getting a good balance of vegetables, carbs and protein on your plate at every meal.  I tend to make the vegetables the main part of my meal with some lean protein and add the carbs when I feel like I need a more heartier meal.

The portion plate above seems to be a general rule in nutrition, however I believe that not one rule works for everyone.  It’s all about doing your research, experimenting and finding what works for you.

4. Meal Planning

Meal planning and making shopping lists may not be everybody’s cup of tea and may be something for the super organised.  In spite of this meal planning is a great way to stay on track with your eating an deters you from diving into the fish and chip shop on the way home every night.  If you already have your meals planned and already have the ingredients in hand you are all set for a healthy and balanced home cooked meal. Not only that, meal planning can work wonders for sticking to a budget too, so you can save money as an added bonus!

5. Forget the word diet

If there is one word that I hate it’s the word diet.  It immediately rings associations to restrictive eating and lettuce leaves for every meal. Restricting certain foods from your diet can lead to over indulging later on. Instead what has worked for me is focusing on being healthy and giving my body what it requires.

Life would be boring without cupcakes and pizza and I think sometimes these foods need a little bit more perspective as they are readily taken out of context.  If you are eating pizza 3 times a day everyday, sure there is going to be a problem.  The alternative is to eat a healthy and balanced diet with things like pizza and chocolate added in every now and then.  Deprivation really isn’t the key to a healthier lifestyle, finding what works for you and feeding your body the right way will set you on  the right path.

6. Be more active

This tip is a given and I won’t say much here as I have a future post on this topic coming up.  If hitting the gym really isn’t your thing then try walking, dancing or rock climbing.  Finding something that you enjoy to get your heart pumping is better than doing something that you hate.  There is so much out there to choose from that you really can have fun at get healthy at the same time.

Do you have any tips to share that helped you on the path towards healthy?

what are you looking to achieve for you and your health in 2014?

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