The Expert’s Guide To Getting Your Diet Back On Track

The Expert’s Guide To Getting Your Diet Back On Track

Whether you’ve been mainlining banana bread or have slipped into a 4pm biscuit habit, the past few months have been a challenge when it comes to our diet, with 61% of us admitting to snacking between meals and 35% of us drinking more than usual. Here, two nutritional experts share their advice for getting back into a routine.

Make A Plan

“Making a plan is essential for getting your diet back on track. Get clear on what dietary strategy you’re going to follow and what that means you’ll be eating. Write down what your daily routine is going to look like and what you need to have in place to make that happen. Whether it’s getting healthy foods in your kitchen (and getting rid of the less healthy ones), batch cooking healthy dishes to freeze in portions, or identifying healthy high street lunch options – the more you get make a plan in advance, the easier it is to execute on busy days when you have less time to think.” – Kim Pearson, nutritionist and weight loss expert

Try Cooking From Scratch

“Cooking from scratch is one of the best things you can do for your health. Swapping takeaways and packaged foods for home-cooked alternatives means you become aware of exactly what you’re getting from each meal and snack. If you think of each meal or snack time as an opportunity to feed your body with an abundance of nutrients, you can start to think about which foods are most rich in vitamins and minerals. For example, whole grains and complex carbohydrates are much richer in nutrients than simple and refined carbohydrates, so swapping white bread, rice or pasta to brown and wholegrain alternatives is a straightforward swap that will instantly improve your nutrient profile.” – Ellie Woodhouse-Clarke, nutritional therapist and wellbeing expert 

Make Simple Swaps

“If you’ve got into bad habits in the last few months, consider some simple swaps to clean up your diet in a fuss-free way. For example, swap savoury snacks like crisps for kale chips and olives; swap your sliced white loaf for a dense rye (Biona is a great brand and widely available); swap flavoured lattes for black coffee or a plain latte with unsweetened nut milk; swap sugary soft drinks for a naturally flavoured sparkling water like Dash; swap chocolate for a low-carb protein bar such as Pulsin’s Keto range; and consider swapping ice cream for coconut yoghurt.” – Kim 

Know How To Build Your Plate

“If you feel your diet has gone off the wagon, it pays to know how to serve yourself at mealtimes. First of all, aim to fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables or salad. We typically base our meals around a starchy carbohydrate like pasta, rice, bread, cereal or noodles but doing this is not helpful for weight loss. Instead, get into the habit of filling your plate with plenty of veg. This can be in the form of roasted Mediterranean veg, stir-fries, stews, curries or ratatouille. Aim for a palm-sized portion of protein such as fish, seafood, eggs, organic meat, tofu or tempeh; then consider what healthy fat you’re going to include. A couple of tablespoons of olive or coconut oil, half an avocado, a palmful of unroasted nuts or seeds are all good options.” – Kim 

Stock Your Cupboards

“Make sure you have plenty of handy sources of protein to hand in your cupboards – these can be quickly added to a salad for either lunch or dinner. Tins of tuna in olive oil or spring water are great, as are hard-boiled eggs and tins of pulses. Frozen vegetables and berries are also really versatile – they can be used in all sorts of dishes and won’t go off anywhere near as fast as fresh ones do.” – Kim

The more you make a plan in advance, the easier it is to execute on busy days when you have less time to think.
Kim Pearson

Snack Sensibly

“Structuring meals in the right way is key to ensure they fill you up, keeping you satisfied until your next meal, but if you do need to snack, opt for something that contains primarily protein or healthy fat. If you want to have fruit, have a small portion and eat it with a source of protein or fat to slow the release of the sugars. Some good options include a palm-sized portion of coconut chunks (you can get these pre-prepared from most supermarkets); a small tub of plain coconut yoghurt; guacamole served with vegetable crudité (M&S sell pre-made guacamole and tubs of crudités); unroasted nuts; unsweetened nut butter spread on slices of one small organic apple; an RXBar or other natural, low-carb protein bar; or a protein shake made with FreeSoul, Pulsin or SunWarrior protein.” – Kim 

Create A New Routine

“If your usual routine has gone out of the window, I'd strongly encourage you to create yourself a new one. What is your day going to look like now? What time will you get up? When can you build in time for exercise? When will you eat meals? Write it down if it helps – the more detail the better. Routines help us develop good habits that are in line with fulfilling our goals, while helping to ditch habits that do not serve us well.” – Kim 

Sleep More

“When we don’t get enough good quality sleep it can cause us to eat more, and feel less satisfied from the food we do eat. This is down to the impact sleep has on our hormones. Lack of sleep causes our body to produce more ghrelin (our ‘hunger hormone’) and less leptin (our ‘satiety hormone’). If you’re constantly tired you’re likely to be fighting a losing battle. If you struggle with getting to sleep, ensure you’re not drinking caffeine too late in the day and aim to turn off screens at least an hour before bedtime. Many of my clients find it helpful to set an alarm in the evening to remind them to finish up what they are doing and head to bed.” – Kim 

Up The Flavour

“Healthy food never has to be bland or boring, so make sure you have your kitchen stocked with a range of dried herbs and spices, as well as other flavour-enhancing staples such as miso paste, tamari, fresh garlic and ginger. Aim for 30 or more different plant foods a week (inclusive of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds and legumes) – this is a great way to get an abundant variety of nutrients and boost your gut health. If you’re tight on time when it comes to cooking, there are plenty of books for delicious and healthy meals that need minimal prep time, such as Deliciously Ella’s Quick & Easy, and Jamie Oliver’s 15-Minute Meals. If finding the time to do food shopping is a problem, getting your groceries delivered or trying a food delivery box, such as Hello Fresh, can be a useful alternative.” – Ellie

Structuring meals in the right way is key to ensure they fill you up, keeping you satisfied until your next meal, but if you do need to snack, opt for something that contains primarily protein or healthy fat.
Kim Pearson

Steer Clear Of Alcohol

“Alcoholic drinks can contain a lot of hidden sugar and reduce our willpower to avoid unhealthy foods. It’s also worth knowing alcohol slows down weight loss and increases levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which encourages weight gain around the tummy. Keep a track of how much you’re drinking in a week and make sure you’re not regularly exceeding the government’s recommended 14 units a week – equivalent to seven standard glasses (175ml) of wine (roughly 12%) or seven pints of weak (3.6%) beer.” – Kim 

Make Some Soup

“As we transition into the colder seasons, homemade soups are a warming and delicious option for lunch at work if you are heading back to the office. Recipes based on hearty root vegetables and an abundance of dark green leafy vegetables will support energy and immunity. You can also add additional proteins such as lentils, buckwheat or chickpeas – either blend these into the soup or sprinkle on top. I highly recommend investing in a Magimix – they are brilliant for making everything from soups to hummus and bean dips.” – Ellie 

Get Into The Habit Of Meal Prepping

“It’s worth planning your meals and getting organised in advance – this will make it much easier to stick to a healthy diet on a day-to-day basis. In fact, I find people who are in the habit of getting organised in advance are less preoccupied with making decisions around food on a day-to-day basis as they’ve got things in place in advance. Keeping a food diary can also be a great way to get back on track. Writing down what you’re eating helps prevent mindless eating.” – Kim 

In need of some healthy lunch inspo? Here, Kim shares some ideas…

  • EGG MUFFIN CUPS: These are like mini frittatas. Try making them for Sunday brunch and then keep in the fridge for weekday breakfasts or work lunches. Find the recipe here

  • TUNA, BEAN & SPINACH SALAD: This can be made in five minutes before running out the door – mix a tin of tuna with a can of mixed beans and some rocket. Keep your dressing (tahini, lemon and olive oil works well) in a separate pot until lunchtime to avoid the salad going soggy.

  • LUNCHBOX: Pack a sectioned lunchbox with carrot and cucumber crudités, cherry tomatoes, guacamole, cooked king prawns and a portion of fruit such as berries, a great low-sugar option.

  • SUSHI JARS: Layer a small portion of brown rice, avocado, nori sheets, cucumber and smoked salmon in a jar. Finish with a dressing made from soy sauce, sesame oil and a little wasabi powder.

  • TOFU, GREENS & LEMON: Try strips of marinated tofu or tempeh over seasonal, lightly stir-fried greens and carrot ribbons with a lemon and olive oil dressing.

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*DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.

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