How to Get Back on Track
If you've found the summer holidays have impacted your wellbeing goals, then you are not alone. Often, the longer nights, holidays, social events and weekend getaways make it much harder to stay on track, as lovely (and important!) as they are. However, with September here already there is no time like the present to get back on track for the next few months before party season is before us (here's hoping we can this year!). Here, I offer some hints and tips on how you can get back on track this autumn with your healthy eating and lifestyle habits.
1. Start with breakfast.
It can feel overwhelming eating healthily and the sheer thought of it is often the biggest obstacle to getting started. My first tip is to focus on one meal of the day, such as breakfast. Aim for 3-4 plant foods (such as fruit, veg, grains), a portion of lean protein and some healthy fats. My favourite breakfast recommendations include chia yoghurt pudding with berries & chopped nuts, smoothies using some frozen veg and berries with nut butter, flax and chia seeds or simply some scrambled eggs with peas, smoked salmon, avocado and some leaves. These options are good examples of a balanced plate and will keep you feeling satiated until lunch time, without the need for a mid-morning snack. Once you crack one meal of the day, the other meals will soon follow suit.
2. Eat seasonally.
After recently signing up for a Riverford veg box, I've very much been enjoying eating seasonally and trying new things. Choosing vegetables and fruits that are in season is a really simple way to get back on track to improve your health and wellbeing. Not only will the foods taste better, they will be much more nutrient dense and will provide more benefits since they are grown in season and not shipped in from far flung continents. This way of eating will also mean you try new plant foods, rather than sticking to the same foods that you enjoy best. Diversity is key to feed the gut microbiome as different plant foods have different and varied benefits.
3. Keep sugar to a minimum.
Sugar is something I talk a LOT about, in case you are new here. It drives hormone imbalances, inflammation and gut issues. During the summer holidays, sugar intake usually increases (alcohol, ice creams, social events!) so the new season is a great time to get back on track. I recently did an IGTV on the importance of balancing blood sugar levels and the importance of checking labels. A good way to better understand if a food is high sugar is if it contains more than 22.5g sugar per 100g. Low sugar is considered to be 5g sugar per 100g. However, we can still find snacks marketed as 'healthy' containing up to about 20g sugar per portion. The guidelines are that we shouldn't consume more than 30g sugar per day, so we can see that one snack can meet that quota quite easily. Instead of going for a sweet snack, focus on combining healthy fats and protein with some carbohydrates. For example, nuts, seeds, nut butter, dips or yoghurt pair well with fruit, veg sticks or oat cakes and will curb any afternoon hunger without that sugar spike.
4. Ditch the detox.
I recently enjoyed writing a blog post for Equi London all about the process of detoxification to dispel the myths surrounding this food trend. The fact is, we are constantly detoxing through the skin, liver and gut. In order to get back on track, it does not necessarily mean you need to follow a strict detox regimen in order to re-set after a summer of indulgence. I am much more in favour of consistently eating well and nourishing the body with the key nutrients that it needs to support the detox process daily. So ditch those juice diets and instead, add a green juice to your daily nutrition if thats what you enjoy. In order to really support detoxification, we need an array of B vitamins found in dark green leafy veg, antioxidants such as vitamin A, E and C, which can be obtained from brightly coloured fruit and veg such as sweet potato, squash, mango, berries, citrus, kiwi and peppers. These foods are best eaten (not juiced) as they provide lots of lovely gut friendly fibre, to feed our microbiome! Detoxification also requires amino acids (protein building blocks), B12, iron and molybdenum all found in poultry, meat and bone broths and organ meats. Finally, the minerals zinc and magnesium found in wholegrains, legumes and seeds are also essential for this process. Therefore, we can see that a varied diet is key to support detoxification, not a juice cleanse or strict diet.
5. Prep healthy meals.
I find that autumn (and winter) lends itself well to preparing healthy meals that taste even better the next day! For example, warming dahls, stews, curries and soups. These types of meals are fantastic as they tend to pack in a lot of veggies without compromising on flavour. Super simple to make, I recommend doubling up recipes to get a few extra portions out of them, this way you can cook once and eat multiple times. Freeze extra portions that you don't need right now. Head to my Free Downloads page for a free new recipe booklet including lots of new autumnal recipes!