Healthy eating: easier than you think
Many of us would have started off 2022 with plans for a healthy and happy new year. But if you’ve already crashed and burned with your resolutions to eat better or lose weight, don’t beat yourself up. Research from the University of Scranton in the UK found that only around eight percent of people stick to their new year’s resolutions. Of course, just because your big plans to lose 500 kilos while learning Italian and growing your own organic heirloom tomatoes fell through, this doesn’t mean you should give up entirely. Instead, take the time to refocus and think about what you can really achieve. To help you get there, personal trainer Timo Topp shares his Topp tips on how to achieve healthy eating in 2022.
Why do people fail with their new year’s resolutions?
“It’s because they try to take on too much change,” Topp says. “It all becomes too hard and not sustainable for the long term. The secret to success is making manageable changes that don’t seem so hard and are easy to add to a busy life. All you need to do is make small tweaks to your current lifestyle and stick to them. Small changes are sustainable.”
Nature’s calorie-free drink
“If you want to lose weight and be healthy, stop drinking excessive calories,” Topp says. “And I’m not just talking about alcohol. Liquid calories are the easiest to overconsume. Unlike food, they provide no feeling of satisfaction, and the gut doesn’t have to work hard to break them down before they’re absorbed. So cut out the unnecessary calories from large milky coffees, soft drinks and even fruit juices. Orange juice has the same number of calories as Coke. Instead, drink water. It’s what your body needs and has zero calories.
“Being slightly dehydrated can also make you feel hungry. So if you’re not drinking enough water you may think you’re feeling hungry when instead you’re actually thirsty.”
TOPP TIP: drink a glass of water before you eat. If you’re hungry after, drink another.
“Cut out the crap and eat more greens”
This is how Topp summarises healthy eating in one simple sentence. But whatever you do, don’t go on a crash or fad diet that calls for an extreme change in your eating habits.
“It either won’t work or it won’t last very long,” Topp says. “Most people put the weight back on. Instead, make sensible changes to your eating habits. The first place to start is to cut out the hyper-calorie-loaded ‘crap’ – chips, chocolate, muffins, biscuits. These foods might make you feel good for a moment, but they offer no nutritional value.”
The second thing you need to do is start eating more greens. An easy way to do this is to increase the number of vegetables you have in your daily meals.
“There’s a lot of controversy over what constitutes healthy eating, but one thing is irrefutable,” Topp says. “Eating plants is good for your health.”
Also, don’t cut out carbs. They’re your primary source of energy (and won’t make you fat). Your brain operates exclusively on glucose from carbohydrates.
“Instead, look to cut back on the serving sizes,” Topp says. “Never cut out a complete food group. You may lose weight with this approach initially, but it’s not sustainable long term.
TOPP TIP: cut out the crap and start to eat more greens: plants, salads and vegetables. Reduce carbs, don’t cut them out. And don’t be scared of healthy fats.
The secret sauce of healthy eating
Topp says that the foundation for healthy eating is not so much knowing what to eat but being prepared to eat well by going food shopping and planning meals in advance.
“Ask yourself, what are going to eat tonight?” he says. “This is so important, particularly when you’re busy. First, have the right foods in your fridge and cupboard. Otherwise, you’re more likely to order in. Then you need to either plan out what you’re going to eat or, even better, pre-prepare it to have ready for when you come home after a long day.”
TOPP TIP: go food shopping and plan and prepare meals in advance. Have healthier snack alternatives on hand to replace your cheeky Netflix chocolate fix.
“Finally, remember: progress, not perfection,” Topp says. “Don’t beat yourself up when you don’t get it right. But do make the effort to resist a few urges and make a commitment to yourself and your best healthy eating year. A little effort slowly builds to a lot of momentum. Just stick at it. I know you can. The best is yet to come.”