How to improve your diet in 2019

A platter of superfoods

New year, new you. After the Christmas period, it is more than likely that you’re feeling a little bit overindulged. With the festivities come one too many pigs in blankets washed down with prosecco, leaving you to enter the new year feeling slightly sluggish. Although it is entirely normal to make the most of the delicious dinners you’ll be offered throughout December, it is important that you get back on track as soon as possible.

If you feel as though your diet could do with a little bit of TLC, these helpful tips should put you back on track. From helpful kitchen utensils to creating a fantastic meal plan, discover how you can improve your diet in 2019.

Incorporate more fruit and vegetables into your diet

A platter of strawberries and crackers

It should come as no surprise that one of the easiest ways to improve your diet is with the addition of fruits and vegetables. Often, it appears that in order to incorporate these into your diet, you are required to substitute your favourite foods. However, having foods that are high in calories in moderation means that you can have more significant portions of fruits and vegetables to fill you up.

In 2019, try adding smoothies into your diet. Packed with vitamins and minerals, you can adapt a smoothie to your tastes. Every part of a smoothie is customisable, from the thickness to the flavour. As a result of this, they make a fantastic option if you’re worried that you’re not consuming enough fruit.

If you live a busy lifestyle, you may find that purchasing fresh fruit and vegetables often leads to waste, as commitments may present themselves that cannot be avoided. If this is the case, stocking up on bags of your frozen favourites, such as spinach and broccoli, means that you’re never short. Perhaps also consider stocking your freezer up with frozen fruit, as they make a great addition to smoothies.

Vegetables are incredibly versatile. If you find that you often navigate away from including them in your meals, or struggle to find ones that you like, there is a number of different ways in which you can add them to meals. Soups can be a great option as you can add as many different vegetables that you like into them. Not only do they give a fantastic flavour, but they also make a good base and bulk up your portions.

Another great way to add vegetables to your diet is through experimenting. A spiraliser can be a worthwhile addition to your kitchen utensils, as you can make pasta alternatives using courgettes and sweet potatoes. These have a similar consistency to pasta so are a brilliant option if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to eat more vegetables.

Ensure that you’re eating balanced meals

Spinach and pomegranate salad

Whether you eat a vegetarian, vegan or dairy-free diet, it is essential that each meal you’re eating is balanced. Alimentarium defines that “a balanced meal is a snapshot of a diet that covers the three core food groups. The balance is a quarter protein, a quarter carbohydrate and half vegetables”. However, sometimes it can be difficult to work out how to serve the right portions of things, such as carbohydrates and proteins.

Men and women have different nutritional requirements, and says that there are three different categories to take into consideration: Reference Nutrient Intakes (RNIs), Estimated Average Requirements (EARs) and Lower Reference Nutrient Intakes (LRNIs). You can calculate your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) with a calculator online, or you can opt for a calorie-controlled menu, such as the ones that we have created for our boot camps. Following these guidelines will help you to calculate portion sizes better, as well as highlight areas where you may be frequently exceeding your recommended daily allowance.

¼ protein

Eggs are a great source of protein as their versatility means that they can be added to any meal. Although it is commonly believed that the white holds most of the nutritional benefits, the yolk is actually more effective if you’re looking to include healthy fats and extra nutrients to your dishes. Lean meat and fish, such as chicken, turkey and salmon, is another good example of protein, as they are lower in fat and calories. This also means that meals using lean proteins can leave you feeling more satisfied and fuller for longer.

¼ carbohydrate

Dietitian Sian Porter on the NHS website says: "Carbohydrates are such a broad category and people need to know that not all carbs are the same. It's the type, quality and quantity of carbohydrate in our diet that is important.” So, although 25% of your plate should be made up of carbs, it is important that they are complex carbohydrates that have not been processed. Despite being found in most foods, legumes, nuts and grains are the best sources for you to eat as these offer you fibre and starch – both essentials for your metabolic health.

½ vegetables

Packed with potassium, fibre, vitamins and folic acid, vegetables should make up the largest percentage of your plate. With such a colourful variety on offer, ensuring that you eat a minimum of five portions a day decreases your chance of heart disease, as well as reduces the risk of cancer or a stroke. Spinach, broccoli, kale and sprouts are great options that are rich in nutrients whilst being easily adaptable to many recipes, whereas options such as carrots can be eaten raw as a healthy snack.

Make a meal plan

A boiled egg salad

One of the biggest reasons for unhealthy eating can be time restraints. Setting aside a period each day to prepare food can sometimes seem impossible, especially if you have a busy calendar or work schedule. As a result of this, you may find that creating a meal plan is extremely beneficial, as it means that you know exactly what is on the menu each night without the stress of searching your cupboards. Sitting down at the weekend, map out your week, highlighting busier days in addition to periods where you may be free. This will allow you to plan your meals, ensuring that you’re eating something that is good for you every day.

If you’re especially stretched for time, a quick search online will highlight weekly meal plans that have been created for you. These can be beneficial if you’re still unsure about how to create a balanced meal, as you can often find plans carefully put together by nutritionists who also know how large each portion should be, so you can avoid under -or over – eating.

A meal plan can also be effective in helping you to stay accountable. If you’re not frequenting the supermarket several times a week and have written documentation of what you’re going to eat each day, it can be harder to sneak in cheat meals or excessive snacking. For some, you may find that accompanying your meal plan is meal prepping, whereby you start chopping, slicing and dicing your vegetables at the start of the week for easy additions to your recipes. This can be a great way to make sure that you stay on top of your health kick, as there will be large quantities of food waste otherwise.