As we begin a new year, many of us might make a resolution to eat more healthily. In fact, improving our diet is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions according to Statista, with 41% of us aiming to turn over a new leaf in the recipe book.
However, January can severely test even those with iron willpower, as gloomy weather and all sorts of tempting leftover Christmas treats combine to thwart our ambitions! A 2021 YouGov survey found that despite our good intentions, only a quarter of Brits kept all of their New Year’s resolutions, and almost a quarter kept none of them.
So are there any ways of making our good intentions easier to follow? We could try to think about the long-term rewards of sticking to a healthy eating plan. We may notice that our mood improves and we are getting a better night’s sleep when we stay away from fatty and sugar-rich snacks, for example.
Many people report increased energy levels after giving up a high fat and high sugar diet, and who couldn’t use a little extra pep in their step, especially at this time of year? Of course, there are also medically sound reasons for changing your diet, including reducing your risk of serious diseases such cancer and diabetes.
However, the stumbling block for many of us is not that we don’t think about the benefits, but in moments of weakness we can give into temptation and reach for the biscuit tin. It can be hard to resist a sugar rush or a carb fix, especially when we are busy, stressed, or under pressure.
Some people find that mindful eating is the approach that works best for them. It’s about paying more attention to how we feel about eating, and the food that we eat. It’s also about learning to step back and recognise the difference between unhelpful comfort eating, and eating when we are genuinely hungry.
Mindfulness techniques can teach us how to focus on the present moment, rather than brood about the past or worry about the future. By learning how to access this focused presence of mind when we are preparing and eating our food, we can learn to appreciate and enjoy our meals and snacks more.
You may even find that by slowing down a hectic schedule, and carving out some time to really focus on cooking and eating, your whole relationship with food begins to change. For example, you might begin to appreciate the smells, textures, and flavours or food more, and take more interest in how processed the food is from its natural state.
Dietitians recommend eating as many natural whole foods as you can, and saving highly processed foods such as cakes and crisps for the occasional treat. Mindful eating also encourages us to slow down as we eat, and avoid distractions such as watching TV or scrolling on a phone.
While we may not manage such an ideal scenario with every meal we make, even small changes can help us on our way to a healthier mindset.
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