New Year, New Start Recipes
Overindulged during the festive holidays? Forget extreme diets or a complete health makeover – the chances are you’ll have abandoned it within a couple of weeks. Nutritionist Christine Bailey suggests making small sustainable changes that fit into your lifestyle and schedule
by Christine Bailey
The truth is that there is no one diet that’s right for everyone. It’s about finding what works best for you and focusing on this, rather than jumping from one fad diet to another. Through years of working with people on their nutrition, I have found that there are a number of factors to consider when it comes to finding the right diet that is sustainable for you in the long term.
Whatever diet you choose it has to fit in with your goals. For example, are you looking to lose weight, gain muscle, boost energy levels or tackle an ongoing health concern? Does it include foods you actually like to eat? Does it work with your lifestyle and schedule?
Here are some tips to help you make lasting changes.
Small, Consistent Changes
Don’t attempt to change everything in one go, whether it’s a new fitness programme or a completely new eating plan. Scale back and make small specific changes. For example try changing your breakfast initially – maybe swap that cereal for a protein smoothie. Batch cook a few recipes so that you have options for when you are tired or busy. Use your lunchtime break for a walk or to plan your evening meal.
When you focus on just a couple of small changes at a time – whether that’s ditching the take aways or swapping your chocolate bar for a piece of fruit, you begin to ingrain healthy habits that are more sustainable.
Low Carb, Higher Protein
One of the easiest ways to shift a few pounds is to reduce your carbohydrates and increase your protein. Studies1,2 consistently show that low carb eating combined with higher protein intake is an effective strategy for getting results. Studies3 have shown they make people feel less hungry, boost metabolism making it easier to lose weight.
The Japanese are well known for keeping lean, and one of the reasons appears to be their tradition to eat only until they’re 80% full. The Japanese tend to eat less, exercise more and have smaller portion sizes. They don’t snack or eat late at night either. Most people don’t gain weight overnight: it happens slowly, over years linked to consistently eating more than their bodies need.
Reducing your portions at every meal is an easy strategy to make a real impact long term.
Swap your dinner plate to a side plate or a bowl
Plate up your food before sitting down to eat and resist the temptation to go back for seconds. Avoid snacking. Have a glass of water or make a hot drink instead.
Include more soups and smoothies
At this time of the year, there is nothing better than a warming soup. Some research suggests that more liquid based meals, like soups and smoothies, may actually help people feel more satiated and as a result, eat significantly fewer calories.
Soups and smoothies are also an ideal way to cram in more vegetables and nutrients too. Don’t like greens? Try adding a spoonful of green superfood powder like chlorella, spinach or kale into your smoothies or at the end of cooking a soup. These foods provide fibre and plenty of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
A green protein smoothie is also a simple healthy breakfast option – starting the day with a healthy nourishing breakfast is more likely to encourage you to stick to a healthier eating pattern through the rest of the day too.
Make a Healthy Fake-away
If you’re often tempted to order a takeaway at the weekend, why not make your own healthier version instead? Not only are you saving money, but you’ll slash the calories without sacrificing your favourite meals. A single portion of takeaway curry can contain over 1,000 calories and a huge amount of saturated fat, salt and sugar, which you’d need to cycle for about three hours to burn off.
You can reduce the calories by replacing some of the meat for tofu or beans and pulses, and bulk up a curry with vegetables and opt for low fat coconut milk or yogurt instead of cream.
Try our lean nutrient rich Thai Vegan Curry for the perfect weekend treat.
Thai Green Tofu Curry
Fresh, light and fragrant, this curry is super easy to make from scratch and the addition of tofu provides plenty of protein. If you have any kind of hand blender or food processor, it’s much easier than you think to make up your own Thai curry paste. I have added a selection of vegetables to this curry which you can vary depending on taste and what you have available. The paste can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. It can also be frozen into portions in an ice cube tray, so you can easily make up a batch ready for creating delicious curries in a hurry. Adding chlorella at the end of cooking gives the soup a wonderfully deep, vibrant green colour.
For the curry:
350g firm tofu
For the curry paste:
Handful of coriander leaves
Make the curry paste. Place all the ingredients in a blender or nutri bullet with a little of the canned coconut milk and blend to form a thick sauce.
Place the tofu between kitchen paper and press to remove any excess moisture. Cut the tofu into 2cm cubes. Place in the bowl and add the cornflour. Toss to coat in the cornflour.
Heat the oil in a sauté pan until hot. Add the tofu in batches and cook until golden. Remove from the pan and place on a plate. Add the mushrooms to the pan and sauté for a minute until soft then remove and place on the plate with the tofu.
In the same pan add the curry paste and heat for a couple of minute. Add the coconut milk, stock, vegetables and kaffir lime leaves and gently simmer for 5 minutes.
In a small bowl place the chlorella, soy sauce, fish sauce and cornflour. Add 1-2tbsp water and mix to form a paste.
Pour in the chlorella paste with the tofu and mushrooms and heat through. Season with black pepper.
Serve with rice and garnish with basil leaves and/or coriander.