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10 Realistic Ways To Squeeze In Healthier Habits For The New Year

By David Saunders, Health Editor | UPDATED: 08:28, 01 July 2020

How many of us make New Years Resolutions, which gradually get swept under the carpet by mid-January? If your goal this 2020 is to shift those extra few pounds, then try to make these manageable tweaks to your eating and lifestyle habits…

1. Eat to feel full, not to clear your plate

“Pay attention to how your stomach is feeling and eat slowly, don’t get sucked into the pressure of clearing every scrap of food on your plate. Eat to feel satisfied, not stuffed,” advises Nutritionist and Fitness Instructor Cassandra Barns.

2. Read food labels

Make time to read food labels, so you know what you’re putting into your body, and avoid being persuaded by the likes of ‘sugar free’ or ‘low fat’ products in the hope that these can help shift those stubborn pounds.

‘If a food or drink is described as ‘low sugar’, ‘slim line’ or ‘diet’, it will usually contain an artificial sweetener. These sweeteners have been linked to mood swings and depression, and it has been found that people who regularly use artificial sweeteners tend to gain weight because they can slow down the digestive process and increase appetite,’ explains Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading Nutritionist and author of Natural Alternatives to Dieting (www.marilynglenville.com).

3. Add protein to each meal

If your diet is lacking in protein then you may be more inclined to go back for seconds. “Including protein in your meal helps slow down digestion, leaving you feeling more satisfied and fuller for longer. This in turn can help with weight loss, as you’re less likely to have as many calories.

“To ensure you’re getting your daily dose of protein try a plant based protein powder. They are easy to digest and can be kept low-calorie. They can be used to make smoothies or shakes, and also added to savory foods such as stews and soups. I’d recommend the Natures Plus Sunflower Protein (£22.50, www.naturesplus.co.uk),” says Cassandra.

4. Don’t eat on the run

“It gives your body the message that time is scarce, you are under pressure and stressed. Furthermore, your digestive system will be less efficient. Make a point of sitting down and eating your food as calmly as possible,” says Marilyn.

5. Have soup as a starter

“If you have soup before a meal you will end up eating fewer calories during the meal because soup stops the cells in the stomach producing your hunger hormone ghrelin and turns off your appetite.

“Studies show the body registers greater satisfaction when food is liquidised and soup moves out of the stomach more gradually than a solid meal would, leaving you feeling more satisfied for longer,” explains Marilyn.

6. Skip the TV when eating

Do you eat your meals in front of a screen? Marilyn explains why you should turn if off, “You can eat up to 70% more if distracted by watching the TV or in a cinema. Research has shown that eating lunch in front of your computer makes it harder to remember what you have eaten and then you don’t feel as full. As a result, you will then be looking for something else to eat. In one study, computer users then ate twice as many biscuits half an hour later than the non-computer users eating lunch!”

7. Don’t ‘save yourself’ before a meal

“Don’t miss meals leading up to eating out, for example don’t miss lunch thinking that it is going to helpful in avoiding extra calories because you are eating out that evening. If you miss meals, your body will think there is a shortage of food, slow down your metabolism and hold on tight to your fat stores.  And there is nothing more guaranteed to rev up your appetite so that you end up eating more at the meal,” says Marilyn.

8. Opt for a packed lunch at work

If you’re guilty of heading to the likes of M&S for your daily meal deal, and feel as though your money keeps evaporating, why not join the craze of prepping your lunches for the week? Not only can this be much cheaper but you also know exactly what is going into your meals, rather than thinking your supermarket bought salad is healthy… until you realise how calorific the dressing is!

Even celebrities are joining the trend of making their own lunches. You just have to scan your Instagram feed to see celebrities showing off their daily lunch box. “Nothing beats homemade food from fresh ingredients. Say goodbye to chemicals, preservatives, colourings, salt, sugar and excess fat,” says Leading London Nutritionist, Lily Soutter (www.lilysoutternutrition.com).

9. Chew Well

“The chemical cholecystokinin (CCK) is released as food enters your stomach.  It tells your digestion to slow down and subsequently gives the message to your brain that you are full, allowing your appetite to naturally decrease. This message takes about 20 minutes, so if you eat quickly you could end up eating far more than you need to before your body gets around to telling you to stop.

“You should also leave time at the end of a meal for your body to register that you are full before you think about dessert because you may realise that you don’t actually need it,” says Marilyn.

10. Have more sex

Struggling to find some couple time and keep up with a fitness regime? Why not combine the both? Not only can having sex help to burn calories, but it can also help you have a great sleep! “Sex or masturbation can help to relieve tension and help you go off to sleep faster,” says Marilyn.

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