January is coming and it’s the time of year when a lot of people make new years resolutions, usually based on some form of nutrition or exercise goals. Resolutions are great but often the motivation doesn’t last long, and this is usually due to unrealistic goal setting. Often we see people falling for fad diets, meal plans or exercise plans at this time of year, that can usually lead to short term success, but have no support to maintain results long term. The internet is full of nutrition information which can often be misleading or not right for your individualised needs, leading to poorer adherence to your goals. Instead, we have created a list of nutrition tips that are easy to develop into long term habits that will lead to great results and you being more likely to reach your goals. So here goes with five New Years Resolutions, you can actually keep!
1 – Cook more meals at home Cooking at home means less meals eaten away from home, and more meals that can be filled with the good nutrients your body needs. While it is a lot easier to find healthy takeaway and restaurant meals nowadays, often these meals are still much lower in vegetables than a home cooked meal can be, and are harder to tailor to suit your individualised needs than a home cooked meal – not to mention it can be a lot more expensive eating out. Setting a goal of increasing your home cooked meals from 4 meals a week to 5 and eventually 6 or 7 is an easy way to start getting more healthy meals into your week and develop this into a long-term habit.
2 – Make fruit or vegetables part of every meal Most adults aren’t eating nearly enough fruit and vegetables – elite athletes included! These provide the body with valuable micronutrients needed for healthy functioning, performance and recovery, as well as being full of fibre that helps to keep you full for longer and feed your good gut bacteria. Setting a goal to “eat more vegetables” is vague and doesn’t provide a plan of how to actually achieve the goal. Instead set a goal of having 1 cup of vegetables or ½ cup salad with lunch and dinner everyday, then increasing this each fortnight or month until you’re in the habit of having at least 5 cups of vegetables each day. As for fruit, aim to eat 2 pieces of fruit everyday – start small and be consistent until this becomes second nature and you won’t even have to think about it.
3 – Focus on what you should add more of, not what you should do less of/eat less of Goals such as “I won’t eat chocolate for a whole year” or “I’m cutting bread out of my diet” are restrictive goals that often lead to the “forbidden fruit” effect – when we are told we can’t have something, inevitably we tend to want it even more! A period of restriction from your favourite foods often leads to binge eating and is more likely to mean you’ll feel discouraged and less motivated to achieve your goals. A great way to overcome this mindset is to think of positive goals, where you are adding value to your day as opposed to restricting. Adding more vegetables into your day, or aiming to have a serve of nuts as a snack everyday leads to a more positive mindset and actually means you have less room in the day for the foods you’re trying to avoid without having to think about restricting those options.
4 – Eat to support your training loads Often I see clients that are eating the same foods every day, regardless of if they are training or not on that day. Reality is most people don’t need to be eating the same amount of food every day, and by adjusting intake you will see a variety of benefits to your performance, recovery and energy levels. In the same way, changing your nutrition intake each day can be used to drive adaptation leading to better training and performance outcomes as well. Make a goal to see our sports dietitian to see how can achieve this goal in 2019.
5 – Plan ahead You don’t have to meal prep chicken, rice and broccoli for every day of the week in order to be healthy, but a little bit of forward thinking goes a long way. Sitting down at the beginning of the week, planning out some meals that you’d like for dinner, and what ingredients you need for lunches before going grocery shopping means your house will be stocked up with all the healthy ingredients you need to get through the week. Without the restriction of meal prepped meals but with a fridge full of fresh fruit, veg and meats, you can put together any healthy meal you feel like eating each day based on your different training loads and day-to-day changes in appetite. Setting a goal to write a grocery list and plan out dinner meals every week is an achievable and realistic goal that will help you to stay on track.
These great tips were provided Kelsey Hutton, Sports Dietitian at our partner centre, Precision Athletica. If you would like to speak to Kelsey in person about your nutrition plan and how it can be tailored to achieve your 2019 goals, please call Precision Athletica on (02) 9764 5787 to book an appointment.