So what should you do in the New Year? We've outlined 10 healthy nudges below that you can apply to your own diet and lifestyle; pick two or three to start with and see how you get on!
1. Make your smoothies green
Smoothies aren’t just for fruit, they’re for vegetables too; and adding a leaves such as spinach, iceberg lettuce or kale won’t alter the taste, it simply adds fibre as well as nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K. Get into the habit of adding a handful of greens before you blend; and remember that smoothies don’t have to be only for the summer or for the period immediately following your weight loss surgery, they’re a great quick breakfast option for on the go all year round!
2. Switch to plain yoghurt and add your own flavours
Natural yoghurt can be a great source of protein as well as probiotics (also known as friendly live bacteria) that have beneficial affects on gut health, and minerals such as calcium and phosphorus. Buying plain yoghurt means that you’re not paying for added refined sugar and you can control exactly what goes in it. A few of my favourite heathy yoghurt additions include cinnamon and banana, strawberries and flaked almonds as well as baked apple pieces and raisins.
3. Stock up on tinned salmon
Tinned salmon is much richer in heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids in comparison to tinned tuna or white fish such as cod or haddock. We should aim to eat two portions of fish a week, one of which is oily and tinned salmon, as well as mackerel, pilchards and sardines all count as being ‘oily’.
4. Organise your kitchen counter
Keep a nicely full fruit bowl on display; you’ll be much more likely to snack on it if you can see it! In the same vein, make sure to have healthy recipe books (such as 'The Bariatric Bible' cookbook by Carol Bowen) as well as a book stand on show; it’ll encourage you to experiment with healthy recipes. You could even write out a weekly meal plan, using at least one new recipe during the week, and have this on display for all of the family to see.
5. Makeover your fridge
Make sure to keep the middle (eye-level) shelves of your fridge filled with healthy, ready to eat high protein foods such as boiled eggs, falafel, plain yoghurt, small cubes of cheese and grapes, pre-cut veggie sticks (in see through containers) for dips such as hummus and slices of chicken or turkey. Make sure that healthy food, i.e. whole foods that are rich in nutrients, are both easy to see and easy to reach.
6. Re-order your cereal cupboard
In order to nudge both yourself and your family to making healthier choices at breakfast the key is to put the healthier cereals at the front i.e. porridge oats/Weetabix, and the less healthier cereals (including honey, sugar and chocolate coated cereals) towards the back. This simple change around will mean that the healthier choice is the easier choice and you never know, the sugary cereals may be forgotten about altogether; or you could save them for a healthier ‘treat’ (instead of a chocolate bar) or for a weekend only.
7. The biscuit jar
Keep the biscuit jar in an inconvenient location such as a hard to reach cupboard. If you really want a biscuit then you know where they are but at least you won't be dipping in out of habit every time you make a hot drink! Weight loss surgery doesn’t change your eating habits and (unfortunately) foods such as biscuits can still be eaten relatively easily. A surgeon who I know once said to a patient ‘you can fill a bath with a dripping tap’ - referring to the consequences of constant snacking and grazing over a day (the calories add up without you realising!).
8. Remember your rest days
Remember to take days off for rest and relaxation. Life can be hectic, so whether it’s a day out in the countryside, or a spa day, rest days can allow both your mind and body to recover and repair. Without them there’s a risk that either your progress will slow, or you’ll simply just burn out. Walking, as well as stretching, are great to do on rest days as they allow your body to relax and wind down, and give your mind chance to reflect on days gone by and think about your week ahead.
9. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep
The majority of adults require 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night and getting enough quality sleep is vital for weight loss as it gives us the energy to workout and the mind set needed to make positive food choices throughout the day.
10. Exercise regularly & include strength training
Aim to do strength training at least twice a week, in addition to your cardio workouts. Strength or resistance exercises help to increase preserve muscle mass and increase fat loss.. And if you’re thinking that you simply don’t have the time to exercise then think again as exercise ‘snacking’, which involves breaking up exercise into multiple small ‘snacks’ through the day, could be for you. For example in just 10 minutes you can walk a thousand steps which is 10% of our daily target, or you could do some squats or lunges whilst the kettle is boiling!