The New Year is traditionally the time when we try to make a fresh start. How many of you have eaten too much over the Christmas period, and resolve on January 1 that this time you are going to ‘lose that unwanted weight for good’, starting with a crash diet? Then when you return to our normal eating habits after a short period of dieting, you find that you put on weight more easily than before and actually end up heavier.

I’d like to offer you a solution to this rollercoaster of weight loss and weight gain. Don’t start a ‘diet’ this January. Instead, promise yourself that you will stick to the five resolutions below. If you do this for three months, not only should you see a gradual loss of weight  without having to count calories, but you will have succeeded in changing the habits that made you gain weight in the first place. Your new habits will be giving you so much more energy that you won’t want to give them up!

So what are the five new habits, and why should you resolve to follow them?

Habit 1: Always eat breakfast

A good breakfast enables you to raise your energy levels as soon as possible in the morning. It is important to eat carbohydrate foods such as porridge or wholegrain toast that release energy slowly over the course of the morning, It is also helpful to include a protein food with your breakfast, such as milk, yogurt, eggs or nuts, as this further slows down the release of energy from the carbohydrate you have eaten.

Habit 2: Plan a small snack for mid­morning and mid­-afternoon

This helps keep your energy levels steady and to avoid the classic mid­-afternoon slump, which can lead to grabbing the biscuit tin or a packet of crisps. Good ideas for snacks are a couple of oatcakes with a tablespoon of hummus, an apple with a small handful of nuts, or a plain bio­live yogurt with kiwi fruit.

Habit 3: Watch how much sugar you consume

Too much sugar plays havoc with your energy levels, and can lead to weight gain. Try to avoid not only the obvious sources of sugar, such as sweets, chocolate, cakes and biscuits, but also ready made meals, which are often high in hidden sugars. It’s also important not to eat too much fruit, which is high in a type of sugar called fructose. Fill up with 5­6 portions of colourful vegetables each day and choose small quantities of healthy savoury snacks such as nuts and seeds.

Habit 4: Reduce starchy carbohydrate portions with your evening meal (or avoid them altogether)

Your body needs less energy in the evening, so excess food is more likely to be converted to fat than it is earlier in the day. For weight loss, it is particularly important to avoid eating potatoes, pasta, noodles and bread in the evenings. Try having your meat, fish, beans, lentils or tofu with three portions of vegetables, which can include half a sweet potato or a few cubes of butternut squash. If you need a starchy carbohydrate, choose 40g of brown rice, couscous or quinoa.

Habit 5: Plan your meals and snacks, and shop online if possible

Working out what you are going to eat for your meals and snacks at the start of the week, and doing a single shop for everything you need, means that you will be less tempted to make unhealthy choices on a day to day basis. Take a packed lunch to work if possible. Shopping online rather than visiting the supermarket can also help remove you from temptation, as you have to actively search for the foods you do need and don’t ‘see’ the foods that you don’t need.

Nutritionist Jo Scott-Dalgleish
Nutritionist Jo Scott-Dalgleish
 

Jo Scott­ Dalgleish is a full member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and is registered with the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). To book an appointment with Jo, please call 07825 447105 or emailnutritionsolutions@live.co.uk or visit www.nutritionsolutions4health.co.uk

To get a personalised nutrition and exercise plan for the New Year you can email Roy at roy@bodylinestudios.co.uk or call 07921 777477.

Have  you missed Roy's recent columns? Here are his rules to follow to achieve a better night's sleep and 10 tips to boost your immunity during the winter months .