Just in time for the new year, Cook&Count app founder Deborah Wilder-Wood shares her ten top tips for a healthy lifestyle in 2017…
Over the last two generations our lifestyles have changed dramatically. We can’t ignore this anymore. 60 years ago food was scarce and we were trying to get our hands on as much as we could. Now there is a lot of food. Most of it is cheap, convenient, and calorie dense. There are also so many labour saving devices, technological advances and home deliveries that most of us are not moving around enough. If we want to lose weight and be healthier, we need to forget about dieting and permanently change what we eat and how much we move.
1. Say no to ‘Good and bad’
Stop punishing yourself! Feeling annoyed because you’ve eaten something ‘bad’ or ‘naughty’ is not going to help. Most people are eating too much sugar and could do with reducing their intake. But the occasional treat will not hurt. We just need to remember that we are animals. We need to eat and we need to move. We can have our cake and eat it. Providing we’re active.
2. Cook at home
Cook your own meals from scratch, rather than eating ready meals and takeaways. It will be rewarding, more nutritious and it’s a great way of controlling what’s in there – no chemicals, lower or no sugar, and so on. Aim to eat at least 4 portions of veg and 1 portion of fruit a day. Do not count fruit juice and smoothies – they contain too much sugar.
3. Snack on veg
Snack on raw vegetables like carrots, celery, beetroot and radishes. And try other nutritious foods, in smaller amounts, such as fresh fruit, unsalted nuts, dried fruit, dark chocolate (at least 70%), and grainy crackers. Do not starve yourself – if you miss meals your metabolism may slow down as your body tries to store all the nutrients because it doesn’t know when the next meal will come.
4. Physical Activity 5 x 30 minutes
Physical activity is not just for weight loss, it will help prevent cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. It will help keep your bones and muscles strong and your mood good. Do at least 5 thirty minute sessions of moderate intensity physical activity a week. Moderate intensity activity examples are: fast walking; hill walking; swimming; dancing, cycling; vacuuming; mowing the lawn; or digging the garden. To make it achievable and maintainable, fit as much of it as you can into your daily routine, such as walking and cycling to work. Stick to your intentions by writing down what, when and where you’re going to do something. Don’t be overambitious. And make plans together with a friend so that you can’t wriggle out of it. Check out the NHS One You page for some more tips on getting active.
5. Limit booze
Stick to the recommended maximum 14 units a week for women and 21 for a man and make sure you have at least two days off a week. This limits can be tough because the alcohol content of many wines and beers has increased. And serving sizes too, with the standard size for a glass of wine now 175ml. Which means there are 2.3 units in a standard glass of wine with 13% alcohol! Take a look at the World Cancer Research Fund Alcohol Calorie Counter to find out the number of calories in your drinks.
6. Cut smoking
At the moment e-cigarettes are very popular, but as they are so new there’s little research into their long-term side effects. They are not approved or regulated and recent research shows that this kind of nicotine use could lead to heart disease. If you are using one that contains nicotine, make sure you gradually reduce the strength of the vapour. See it as a tool to quit smoking rather than replacing one dependence with another. Just because e-cigarettes are ‘healthier’ does not mean that they are healthy.
7. Take a break
Get out every day for a brisk walk, even if it’s just for 10 or 15 minutes. Don’t convince yourself that you’re too busy – a few minutes getting some fresh air, burning off some adrenaline and releasing some endorphins will make you feel more energetic, clearheaded and happier!
8. Ditch the scales
Give them to the charity shop, or take them round to a friend’s house and use them no more than once a month. Your weight is not about a number, it’s about how you feel and look. And remember that if you’re doing more exercise, you may be building more muscle which weighs more than fat.
9. Deal with stress
Stress isn’t always a bad thing – in the short term it can provide mental alertness, motivation and efficiency. Focus on the things that are within your realm of control. Live in the present and the future, there is nothing you can do about the past. When you do feel stressed, burn off the extra adrenaline by taking exercise.
10. Do a job you find fulfilling and challenging
Our work takes up most of our waking hours. If we don’t enjoy it, it will spill over into the rest of our lives and may lead us to become negative, demotivated and stagnant. Challenge yourself and be proactive about taking responsibility for your life. Do not say “I’ll try” or “I’ll see if I can”. You are already setting yourself up for failure. Say “I’ll do that” and then do it!
The Cook&Count app team wishes you a happy and healthy 2017! And for top tip number two, download Cook&Count app for free from the App Store and get back in the kitchen!