Want to reclaim your mealtimes? It’s time to denounce the scales and rediscover the joy of healthy eating. Here’s how embracing food could transform your diet…

WORDS: Louise Pyne

Since our lives slowed down with ongoing lockdown restrictions, the spotlight has been on our diet and fitness routines – and many of us are feeling more pressure than ever to be the ideal weight. Maybe you’ve jumped on the fad diet bandwagon, or perhaps the pandemic has triggered negative eating patterns? Figures from The Royal Society for Public Health show that 47 per cent of us have spent more time on social media since the pandemic began, but this daily trawl can sometimes heighten body issues and anxieties, making us feel worse about ourselves and negatively impacting our mental health. Worryingly, research by data company Kantar shows that our obsession with being the perfect weight means that 38 per cent of us are now on a diet most of the time. With so many outside influences affecting our thoughts and behaviours around body image and weight, it can be hard to strike a balance. Here we show you how to nourish your body and change your mindset to reach your health goals.

FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN ADD

Eating should be fun, but focusing on what you shouldn’t eat rather than what you should certainly sucks the fun out of mealtimes. Change your approach and look at what you can add to your plate to increase the amount of incredible nutrients, antioxidants and fibre you’re getting from each meal. ‘Batch cook nutrient-dense meals over the weekend or when you have some time so that you always have meals ready to heat up and go when you need them most throughout the week, helping you stay on track,’ shares Jessica Shand, naturopathic nutrition coach (@eatnourishglow). Whip up some healthy soups, stews and curries, packing in as many veggies, herbs and spices as you can, and then portion them into freezer bags ready to defrost as needed.

USE THE INTERNET POSITIVELY

If you’re calorie counting, it can be tempting to munch on the same foods day after day. Fortunately, there are plenty of accessible tools that encourage healthy eating without having to watch every morsel you put into your mouth. From diet forums to recipe books and inspiring Instagram foodie accounts, along with healthy apps, you can easily reinvent mealtimes. Make a scrapbook of healthy finds every time you come across an inspiring recipe online. ‘You could set some time aside to make a list of quick go-to meals, then save it on your phone or stick it to your fridge,’ adds Shand.
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PUT PEN TO PAPER

Invest in a wellness planner or journal to jot down nutritional notes. Visualising and writing down your goals allows you to see what’s realistic and what is not. It also allows you to keep track of your progress and celebrate any achievements, no matter how big or small. ‘Try to actively tune into how the foods you eat make you feel. You can write your thoughts down and you will soon find that you instinctively make healthier choices because you want to and not because you’re stuck on a diet,’ believes Shand.

DITCH THE SCALES

It’s hard to avoid stepping on the scales when you’re striving to slim down, but watching the kind of food that you eat is actually a far healthier way of fighting fat than meticulously checking whether you’ve gained or lost a pound. ‘Make a conscious effort on a daily basis to enjoy a delicious, balanced diet full of colour and variety – aim to eat a rainbow of coloured foods,’ says Shand.

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ENJOY FOOD

Taking time to lovingly make healthy meals from scratch can keep your goals on track without any deprivation. ‘It’s important to treat your mealtimes as special moments in your day to really enjoy – this means turning off all screen technology, including TVs and phones, sitting at the table and tuning into the tastes and textures of the foods you are fuelling your body with,’ adds Shand. When you’re in the supermarket, aim to pick up one new ingredient each week – it might be an exotic fruit or a vegetable that helps liven up your eating habits.

Did you know that certain foods could make you feel happier, too? Read all about them here 

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