Our 6 tips for a healthy start to the year


1. Drink more water. Water is an essential part of our diet - our bodies are roughly 60% water and depending on our environment we can only live a few days without it (we can survive much longer without food)! Regular and plentiful water helps us perform better, circulate nutrients around our body, flush out waste and bacteria, improve the colour and texture of our skin and even help anyone trying to lose weight (staying hydrated can serve as an appetite suppressant). If you find it hard to remember to drink water throughout the day then get yourself a water bottle. I use a 750ml Camelbak eddy (available in lots of different colours) and having it on my desk all the time means I drink at least 2 litres of water a day. If you find water very boring try adding a slice of cucumber, fresh ginger or lemon. 

2. Walk more. Exercise is a big part of staying healthy but that doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune on a new membership or sports kit. Walking is a great form of exercise and with the right mindset one or two small changes in your day can make a difference - whether that's taking the stairs instead of an escalator or getting off the bus or tube one stop early. Every little counts and it doesn't usually take that much longer, instead it can provide a nice moment to yourself in the day. 

3. Make sure you get enough sleep. Sleep is an essential part of being healthy and directly affects how well we are able to learn, grow and behave in life. While we're asleep, our bodies have that all-important time to repair. If you have problems sleeping there is a brilliant new book called Sleep: The Myth of 8 hours, the Power of Naps... and the New Plan to Recharge Your Body and Mind by Nick Littlehales. The author is an elite sleep coach to some of the world's leading sports stars and teams and in this book lays bare his strategies for us all to use.  

 

4. Eat a balanced diet. One of the best pieces of advice I've read (in Jane Clarke's Nourish) is to not worry too much about what's on each plate you eat and instead think about what you are eating over a day or even a whole week. Every now and then it’s fine to enjoy a slice of cake but it's really important to recognise and react when we're eating too much of anything. Indulgent food should be enjoyed and savoured on special occasions – whereas the majority of our diet should be made up of balanced, nutritious everyday foods.  

5. Eat the seasons. Not only is seasonal food fresher, but it also tends to be tastier and more nutritious. When you buy seasonal produce you also avoid paying a premium for food that is scarcer or has travelled a long way and reduce the energy (and associated CO2 emissions) needed to grow and transport the food. Nowadays there is less awareness of when and where various foods are produced, not helped by the imports from around the world ensure that supermarket shelves look the same week in week out. Eat the Seasons is a useful website that aims to promote an understanding of food seasons. Each week it focuses on one food, currently in season, and shares facts, useful tips and enticing recipe ideas.

6. Listen to your body. There is so much info out there on what to eat and what not to eat but our bodies all work differently which makes it hard to know what if right for us. One easy way to start understanding what works for you is to keep a food diary. If you haven't done one before try noting anything you eat and and at what time then recording how you feel too. You may start to see patterns like not sleeping well if you eat certain foods in the evening or even bloating after certain ingredients. If you are interested in reading more Tim Spector has written a brilliant new book called The Diet Myth which explains why the dogma about calories is wrong, why some diets succeed in the short term and why all ultimately fail in the long term. The one common factor to a healthy diet, healthy gut and a healthy body is diversity.

 

POTAGE | eat well together