Feeling a bit sluggish, bloated or generally not your best? We all have days where it feels like our body is literally weighing us down, no matter what the scales or the mirror are actually telling us.
Before reaching for the next fad diet and chastising yourself for everything you put in your mouth, stop. Bizarre eating habits and dramatically cutting calories are gimmicky weight-loss methods that have been proven not to work, again, and again, and again. They’re just part of an age-old diet culture that encourages you to spend money and still not feel any better about yourself.
If you want to make positive changes in your diet in a sustainable, cost-effective way, here are a few tips about embracing a “healthful” way of life.
Practice mindful eating
Lots of studies have shown that those who practice mindful eating – even for a couple of weeks – end up savouring their food more, meaning they need less to feel satisfied and end up losing weight as a side effect. Some ways to do this is to make small changes in the way you eat (see ideas here) and to implement a “hunger scale” before reaching for food.
Less mess = less stress
Clutter and mess around the house adds to your mental load, especially if you’re already frazzled. Obviously, this isn’t a great scenario for those that are prone to eat out of anxiety. If this sounds familiar, use the time that you would spend stress-snacking to tidy a single room, which will distract you from eating when you’re not hungry and help you to restore a sense of control.
Focus on free fitness
If you can’t justify the cost of a gym membership (especially if you’re worried about giving up after a month), make the most of what you can do with your body for free.
Do a digital detox
Constantly reaching for fast food isn’t helping your wallet or your health. Unsubscribe from mailing lists that cram your inbox full of tempting offers every weekend and uninstall delivery apps from your phone – out of sight, out of mind.
Make some food swaps
Losing weight requires eating fewer calories, but there are ways to do this without sacrificing your favourite meals (like we said earlier, cutting out the fun stuff will only make it more likely that you binge again in a few weeks). Start by looking at some recommended swaps and choose ones you can stick to. For example, you might not notice the difference between soured cream and Greek yoghurt, or care about having soda water and natural fruit juice instead of a sugary soft drink.
Embrace activity swaps
Healthful swaps don’t have to be limited to your plate – look for ways in which you can turn mundane activities into an excuse to use your body and enjoy its movement. Boring commute? Take the stairs and see if you can beat the people on the escalator. Putting off the housework? Grab your headphones and dance while you tidy.
Whether you’re focusing on eating more nutritional meals or trying to improve your strength, having a buddy to help you stay accountable is better than going alone. If you can rope in the person that you usually share a takeaway with that’s perfect, otherwise you can use the power of social media to your advantage.
Drink more water
This one is hardly unexpected, so why aren’t you doing it yet? Fill up a large glass or bottle with some refreshingly cold water and remember to drink it – there are even a ton of apps to remind you. It will curb cravings when you aren’t actually hungry and, more importantly, will keep your hair and skin hydrated. Add a squeeze of fresh citrus or cucumber if you want a little bit of flavour.
Take joy in cooking
When you’ve fallen out of the habit of cooking, getting back into the kitchen can feel like a chore. If you’re serious about feeling healthier, you need to invest a bit of time and effort here. Whether you dedicate a Sunday afternoon to prepping healthy meals for the rest of the week or sign up to trial a subscription recipe box (you can usually get some great discounts for the first order), find a way to get back in touch with the food you’re making.
So, put down the expensive “miracle powders”, the over-priced meal plans and the slimming clubs that literally charge you a weekly fee to feel bad about yourself, and start focusing on small changes that will boost your energy and mood in a long-term way.