Now that your New Year's resolution is so distant a memory it's hard to
even recall what you resolved to do, it's time to get off the treadmill
of unhealthy eating and take charge of your relationship with food for
once and for all.
Justine Pearl, brand manager of Pouyoukas Foods, says that while this is not easy, if you approach the process conscientiously, you will not only increase your chances of success, but also of making lasting changes that will become second nature.
New Year’s resolutions fail and Monday never comes. So when should you start a new eating programme? “When you’re ready,” says Pearl. “Whether that’s in the middle of a doughnut or on a Tuesday night. Make the moment of your epiphany your starting point. The resolve you feel at that moment will go a long way to cementing your commitment to the process.”
She adds, “To succeed in changing your eating habits for good, you need to define then redefine your relationship with food, making you the master and food your servant. Unlike our leaner, though less well-nourished ancestors, we live in times of abundance and have the luxury of eating for reasons besides survival; like stress, emotions, boredom, loneliness or simply because the food is there. Be honest about why you eat and use your answers to map out your relationship with food and in so doing put yourself in a position to change this relationship.”
Establishing an eating plan is paramount to a well-balanced diet. This doesn’t have to be detailed to the half gram and quarter calorie. Instead, spend a few minutes each night to consider what you’ll eat tomorrow. Look at your schedule, see when you can eat and then decide what you’ll eat. Grabbing food on the go is a major contributor to unhealthy eating, so take a few minutes to pack a lunch box the night before.
“Don’t shop when you’re hungry” advises Pearl. “When you shop hungry, your trolley contents double and usually include a barrage of unhealthy foods. Make shopping a conscientious exercise, where you plan ahead and choose healthy snacks like nuts and legumes over deep fried snacks, opt for fresh over processed foods and choose natural grains like rice and couscous instead of processed and refined carbohydrates.
“While you’re shopping, read the packaging. March 2012 was the deadline date for South Africa’s new labelling and packaging laws to be fully implemented. Take advantage of the refreshingly honest results, to examine food contents and eliminate those that are high in refined sugars, bad fats, colourants and preservatives and replace them with natural products that are rich in proteins and high in energy.”
Snacking is another dietary minefield. If you’re a parent and find that eating your kids’ snacks is your dietary downfall, consider the irony of feeding them the same junk that created the very eating habits you’re trying to change. Set them up for lifetime of healthy habits by offering them fresh or dried fruit, low fat or fat-free yoghurt, raw nuts, low GI carbohydrate snacks or baked pretzels on a regular basis and less healthy snacks, less often. Small adjustments early on can influence their relationship with food forever and keep temptation out of your pantry.
Of course all the healthy food in the world won’t make an iota’s difference to your waistline if you don’t manage your portion size. On the up side, healthy foods are much more filling than unhealthy foods. So managing portion size becomes easier when you opt for low GI unrefined carbohydrates and legumes like beans, lentils and chickpeas and fill up on extra veggies and salad.
Above all, Pearl advises you to listen to your body. “It’s not just what you eat that will change your relationship with food, but also eating at the times your body needs it most, to avoid energy crises. Most dieticians advise that you stick to a minimum of three main meals per day, with a small snack in between. That’s sound advice. As is the imperative of eating breakfast in order to kickstart your metabolism.
“To secure your success though, go ahead and share your goals with your loved ones and enlist their support on your journey. Having people rooting for you makes the world of difference to your motivation and commitment alike, and you may be surprised by how many of them want to come along for the ride!”
As the Chinese philosopher Laozi once said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” What better time to make that first step than in 2012, the Chinese year of the Dragon and therefore a year of strength, abundance, luck, intelligence and self-assurance - all good indicators for the success of your new endeavour.