The secret to staying on the healthy-eating bandwagon

So you've committed to a new healthy-eating plan, but how do you stick to it?

Eating well may seem like a walk in the park for some, but it’s not always so simple.

Many people put up mental barriers how about healthy eating, from the cost to the convenience. These types of thoughts often put a stop to our healthy-eating plans explains nutritionist and chef Zoe Bingley-Pullin.

Another common hurdle is the expectation of getting instant results, but Zoe says it’s more about understanding that changing your routine is a journey and it’s all about changing your lifestyle, rather than taking it up as a short-term fix.

With that in mind, Zoe shares some other tips on how to stay committed to your healthy-eating goals.

Coping with cravings

Instead of automatically trying to shut cravings down, Zoe says that it’s important to look at the why behind them.

“If you are craving sugar, could it be because you are not eating balanced meals and are therefore not satisfied? Are you not eating enough overall and your body is calling out for energy? Or, are you not sleeping well and therefore low in energy, so your body is seeking out quick sources of fuel such as sugar?” Zoe asks.

To minimise cravings, ensuring your meals are balanced well in with protein, fats, and carbs, this can result in lack of satiety and cravings.

“Make sure to include a source of protein, fats and carbs, alongside veg, at each meal and see what difference it makes to energy, cravings and satisfaction,” she suggests.

Also, boost your fibre intake. “A diet high in fibre such as the Mediterranean diet has been shown to reduce binge eating and cravings – try adding 1/2 cup legumes to main meals, opt for wholegrains over refined grains and snack on fresh fruit and vegetables,” she suggests.

Zoe also says to take stress, emotions and habits into account when pinpointing your craving drivers.

“Come up with alternative ways to deal with stress other than eating such as going for a walk, calling a friend or even doing some light stretching,” she says.

Take it slow

Instead of doing a complete overhaul, try and make just one to two small changes each week. This will make the changes easier to stick to and will help you to adjust more smoothly.

During this time, Zoe also recommends being very clear on your reasons for changing your eating habits.

“Think about what has motivated you to make this change and have it in the front of your mind for when you are tempted to give up,” she says.

Resisting sugar

Limiting sugar consumption is something that most people struggle with, but Zoe says the key is to reduce your intake gradually.

“Start by limiting the amount of sugar in tea/coffee, eat a piece of fruit instead of lollies or start reducing the quantity used in baking – over time you will become desensitised to the taste of sugar,” she explains.

To help you along, Zoe suggests eating a source of protein (eggs, dairy, meat, legumes, tofu, nuts/seeds), healthy fats (avocado, extra virgin olive oil, nuts/seeds) and complex carbs (wholegrains, sweet potato, legumes, whole rolled oats, wholegrain bread) with each meal and and include snacking in your diet, which will help to regulate blood sugar levels and help keep you feeling satisfied.

Staying social

Sticking to your healthy-eating regime is probably most likely to fall in a heap when it comes to socialising.

To help keep you on the straight and narrow, Zoe advises that it’s wise to share your goals with others to keep yourself more accountable and think of healthier ways to socialise.

“Go for a walk with a friend, swap dinner and drinks for a breakfast catch up, or go to a healthy cooking class,” she says.

Taste.com.au’s Eat Real cuts the confusion and guilt around food and helps you fall in love with what’s on your plate. With the new Eat Real Unwrapped podcasts, recipes and menu plans (including the budget-conscious Eat Real 14-day challenge), plus news stories and a Facebook support group, it’s the place to kickstart your new you.

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