A nutritionist’s guide to a fitter and healthier you

It’s that time of year again. The days are finally getting longer, the skies are turning from that dreary grey into something resembling sunshine and you’re starting to think about where you’ll jet off to in the summer. As we approach the clocks going forward at the end of the month (don’t forget, 29th March!), it’s the perfect time to start thinking about waking up our bodies from a long winter slumber.

There are many reasons why we often stop taking good care of ourselves during the winter – it’s easy to stay indoors with a takeaway on the weekends, sleep for too long and make excuses not to exercise for a few months. The arrival of spring always lifts our mood and puts a sense of change in the air, acting as a key motivator in kick starting healthy habits for the coming year. A cleaner and more balanced lifestyle will mean it’s not just the good weather making you feel better, and the positive changes you make now could keep you feeling great long beyond the summer.

Yvonne Wake, Public Health Nutritionist for Karidis Clinic, highlights the ways that you can put a spring back into your step with a fresh start for your body…

Prioritise fruit and vegetables

With the continuing growth of the veganism trend it’s easier than ever to find really inspiring plant-based recipes. We’ve come a long way from the days when vegetables were a side dish for meat and potatoes. Whether it’s a delicious stuffed pepper or a sizzling cauliflower curry, there are so many mouth-watering dishes that are really straightforward to make, and keeping just a few essential spices like coriander, cinnamon and turmeric in the cupboard will make sure they’re spicy and punchy. Variety is key so make sure you use as many different colours of vegetables and fruit as you can.

Eating meat and poultry? Keep it organic

Organic meat is not only leaner and therefore less unhealthy to eat, but animals which have been raised on a varied outdoor diet are quite simply going to have more good stuff (like vitamins, minerals and omega 3 fatty acids) to give to you. It’s more nutritious, more flavourful and more sustainable so make the switch if you haven’t already. The extra few pence spent in your local supermarket or butchers could pay dividends when it comes to having a healthier body.

Keep dairy products to a minimum

It used to be that dairy products like milk were difficult to avoid if you wanted to drink tea or eat porridge – but now there are more alternative options than ever. Whether it’s oat milk, nut milk, soy milk, rice milk or even macadamia milk, you’re bound to find one that suits you. Not only will cutting out dairy mean reducing your saturated fat intake, helping you to stay a healthy weight, but it will keep your body’s acid-alkaline balance in check to maintain body function.

Avoid junk foods and processed foods

This might seem like it limits your options – but one of the most positive changes you can make is to swap the takeaways for easy homemade recipes that taste just as good. If you’re craving a curry it’s likely to be laziness that gets you reaching for the takeaway menu – when in fact you can often make something just as filling, just as tasty and much better for you just by throwing a few ingredients from the back of your cupboard like cardamom, cumin and coriander into a pan.

Go for wholegrain over white flour

When you’re cutting out calories, it’s important to make sure that those you are eating are full of nutrients. Wholegrain, or wholemeal, flour is rich in vitamins like B1, B3 and B5 as well as having more iron, calcium and protein than white flour. Swapping out one for the other won’t affect the taste of what you’re eating but it will leave you feeling better.
Cut out refined sugars

The bad news is cakes, biscuits, pastries and sweets are out of the equation – but the good news is you won’t believe how much better you will feel for leaving them behind! They’re difficult to avoid altogether as they’ve found their way into so many everyday foods, but cutting down will still bring huge benefits. Refined sugars are not only linked to conditions like obesity and diabetes but also to depression.

Eat oily fish to get your omegas

A couple of portions of oily fish per week can make a real difference to your overall wellbeing. They are a source of essential omega-3s like EPA and DHA which form a crucial part of human cell membranes, which keep you functioning at your best. Sardines are the best, as they contain high amounts of B-12, which helps your cardiovascular function and keeps energy levels up, and vitamin D, which helps strengthen your bones. Other oily fish include herring, pilchards, salmon, trout and mackerel.

Don’t drink to excess (or at all if possible)

The impact of excessive drinking goes much further than a bad hangover. You’ll feel worse for days and often end up in a cycle of eating unhealthy food – and that’s not to mention the damaging impact of alcohol on your liver and overall health. According to a study by Drink Aware, 27% of Brits are binge drinkers because they consume more than six to eight units (between two large glasses of wine to four low-strength pints) in a single session.

It’s easy to overlook the effect of a little midweek glass of wine, but even cutting back on those will make a real difference – as will ensuring that you drink 2 litres of water every day.

Walk everywhere if possible

Now the weather is getting brighter there is really no excuse to hop in the car for short journeys. Not only is walking infinitely better for the environment, but you could be amazed just how much good exercise it puts back into your life. Keeping fit isn’t just about punishing yourself in the gym or running for miles on end – some brisk walking factored into each and every day will make you fitter, stronger and more able to concentrate at work.

Studies show that people who walk four times a week for 45 minutes at a pace that increases their heart rate could lose up to 18lb without changing their diet. Plus walking is proven to release endorphins which can create a calmer state of mind, reducing the symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression.

Sleep for at least 7½ hours every night

The benefits of good night’s sleep go far beyond being able to stay awake at your desk. Quality sleep keeps blood pressure down and decreases your chances of developing serious conditions later in life, and you’ll be amazed how much more energetic and focused it leaves you feeling. Don’t just factor in the right number of hours, though – make sure it’s the right kind of sleep by ensuring you’re in a properly darkened room, taking the time to wind down and avoiding your smartphone for an hour before bed.

About Yvonne Wake:

Yvonne has devised the Cosmetic Surgery Diet for Karidis Clinic to ensure you are in the best possible health so you can be in tip-top condition to undergo a procedure and sail through the recovery period, as well as maintaining your beautiful results for always.