20 tips from dietitians for a healthier 2020

It’s time to shake it up and create some new habits that you can stick to. Forget resolutions, we’ve asked several dietitians to share their top 20 tips for making 2020 a healthier year. These are practical and easy ways to make simple changes for the better.
 

Joel Feren - Accredited Practising Dietitian, The Nutrition Guy, foodie and Weet-Bix Better Brekkie Ambassador. 

 

1. Eat intuitively

Don’t deprive yourself of your favourite foods. Check in with your body’s hunger and fullness cues and let these signals dictate how much food you really need to eat. Aim to be satisfied, not overly full.
 

2. Get active

Dust off the sneakers, togs or cycling lycra - whatever floats your boat. Including exercise in your day is about more than weight loss and staying fit. Exercise helps to improve insulin sensitivity, better sleep, improve mood and increase life expectancy. Need more motivation to get moving?
 
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3. Be a teetotaller

Alcohol packs an energy punch. At 29kj/g, alcohol is second only to fat in the kilojoule per gram stakes. Be mindful of those extra liquid kilojoules.


4. Should’ve, could’ve, would’ve

If you indulge a little more than you would have liked, don’t beat yourself up over it. Jimmy Cliff once sang, “Goodbye yesterday, welcome today”. Today is a new day, so aim for some balance.
 

5. Go with the (whole) grain

Swapping refined grains for wholegrains will not only delight your taste buds, it will deliver a host of important nutrients. Think folate, fibre, B vitamins and iron. Go for multigrain bread, wholegrain breakfast cereals, wholemeal couscous, brown rice and quinoa among others.
 

Manling Ng - Accredited Practising Dietitian, part of the Sanitarium nutrition team, a believer in a balanced approach to food and life, and a passionate badminton player. 


6. Revamp your veggies 

Think veggies are boring? Try to shake it up this year by trying new varieties or a different cooking technique. A simple sauté, stir-fry or steam could be a game-changer. Or spice up it up with your favourite flavours, kale curry anyone?


7. Go plants first

Fill your plate with veggies, fruits, wholegrains and plant proteins first, so you’re always starting on the right track. People often associate protein with meat, eggs and dairy, when there’s actually an abundance of plant foods that deliver a protein punch.


8. Beware of nutrition fakers 

Working out good from bad nutrition advice can be confusing with so much nutrition noise. What makes it even tougher are the fake ‘nutrition gurus’, especially the raft of unqualified influencers providing diet advice on social media. Getting credible nutrition advice is important, just like going to a qualified doctor. So, seek out people that are trained Accredited Practicing Dietitians and listen to well-established health organisations. It’s your health so beware of who you listen to.


9. Make breakfast count 

Having a nutritious breakfast is one of the best ways to set yourself up for the day and good health. Don’t wait till lunch or dinner to set up healthy habits, start the day on the right track with a breakfast that includes wholegrains, fruits and even veggies. Check out our recipe collections for some inspiration.
 
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10. Share more meals

Food is for more than fuel. Sharing meals is also an important part of our culture, society and family. Eating with others can have a positive effect on social and mental wellbeing. So in 2020 commit to more shared meal times and if you’re due for a catch up with a friend, why not make it over a plate of food?


Angela Saunders - Accredited Practising Dietitian with 40 years’ experience, expert in all things vegetarian and part of the Sanitarium nutrition team. 


11. Love your gut with budget-friendly foods

You don’t need to buy expensive kombucha drinks or probiotics to look after your gut. Some of the cheapest foods on supermarket shelves are stand outs when it comes to gut health. Yoghurt is one of the best sources of probiotics because it’s made from milk that has been fermented by friendly bacteria, mainly lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria. Also wholegrains and legumes are a cheap and delicious prebiotic. Prebiotics feed your gut bugs or gut microbiota and help keep them healthy.


12. Don’t drink your calories

Most people know that soft drinks are high in sugar (empty calories) and water is a much better option. Or try to look for drinks that are low GI and provide a host of nutrients. 


13. Don’t buy treats that fuel cravings

It’s that simple. Don’t buy foods you love but know you shouldn’t have every day. Chips, chocolate, biscuits - we all have a weakness so just avoid it. If it’s not in your shopping trolley, it’s not coming home, and it won’t be constantly saying “eat me”. Fill your fridge and pantry with mostly whole foods such as fresh/frozen veggies, fruits, wholegrains (breads, cereals), nuts, seeds, and legumes (canned/dried) so you have plenty of healthy options to keep you satisfied.


14. Counting beans

Legumes are a great plant-based source of protein. Try beans or lentils with dinner or in a salad instead of meat or chicken, or add them to soups and stews. Try to change your thinking so legumes become your everyday protein source and meat becomes a sometimes food. Nuts are another great plant-based source of protein that can be included on a daily basis in meals and snacks.


15. Be mindful of B12

Eating more plant foods, taking the step to go vegetarian or vegan are popular New Year’s resolutions. These types of diets are known for being better for the planet and for your health. However, when you’re eating less dairy, eggs and meats, you need to be mindful that you’ll also be getting less B12. This vitamin plays a lot of important roles in the body from fighting fatigue to supporting mental function and immunity. So if you’re cutting back on meats and dairy, be sure to include foods fortified with B12 such as plant beverages (e.g. soy, almond, oat etc), meat substitutes (e.g. sausages, patties) and some yeast extract spreads.


Simon Barden - Accredited Practising Dietitian, passionate about whole foods and lifestyle medicine


16. Get prepped

If you’re constantly pushed for time and find yourself opting for takeaway more often than not, meal prepping could help. Not only does it save time and money, it can also help with weight control, improve your diet and reduce stress. Start small, like roasting some veggies on a Sunday that you can add to meals throughout the week.


17. Get your ZZZs

Sleep is a vital part of staying healthy. As we compete more and more with distracting screens and busy schedules, the idea of having such a tight routine can feel like an impossible feat most nights! Try to avoid bad habits like looking at phones or eating sugary snacks before going to bed and aim for around 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
 
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18. Focus on adding, not subtracting

It’s easy to focus on foods in a negative way and have a long list of those you should avoid. Instead, be positive and spend time focusing on healthy foods you’d like to add to your diet. You’ll find the list is a lot longer and won’t feel like you’re depriving yourself or trying to eat less.


19. Choose local

When you’re at the shops, make a conscious decision to buy locally grown foods. It’s a win:win. As well as supporting farmers, these foods are usually the fruit and veg that are in season and are a delicious way to eat more plant foods and save your wallet. 


20. Food and mood

New research tells us the importance of eating plenty of plant foods for brain health. By eating more plant foods, even from early pregnancy, you can improve the cognitive health of your baby and reduce risk for anxiety and depression later in life. This adds to the body of evidence that eating mostly plant foods is good for overall health, including mental health. So, if you’ve had a bad day, don’t reach for the biscuits. Nourish yourself with a plant-based snack to help perk up your mood.

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