Making Healthy Changes That Stick

Shutterstock / margouillat photo © healthy

Did you make any healthy New Year Resolutions for 2021?

How are they going?

According to research by fitness company Strava, January 19 is the day most people ditch the good intentions. Now, that could be entirely rational — it’s sometimes sensible to accept that the promises of a “whole new you” might not be achievable, or even desirable.

But some changes are worth making. And having realistic plans to move forward in baby steps is often the way to go.

Lots of us would like to eat more healthily, but we’ve become used to buying, cooking and eating a particular set of foods over years, possibly decades.

Leading nutritionist Christine Bailey, founder of the Lean & Nourish Club, suggests making small sustainable changes that fit into your lifestyle and schedule.


Photograph courtesy of Christine Bailey.

As Christine says, there is no one diet that is right for everyone.

“It’s about finding what works best for you and then 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,” she says.

“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 Christine’s top tips to help you make lasting changes.

Start small

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 takeaways 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.

Studies consistently show that low carb eating combined with higher protein intake is an effective strategy for getting results.

This makes people feel less hungry and boosts metabolism, making it easier to lose weight.

Reduce portions

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, which is a healthy choice!

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.

Liquid lunch

No, not that kind!

Include more soups and smoothies in your diet. This time of the year there is nothing better than a warming soup, and some research suggests that more liquid based meals like soups and smoothies may actually help people feel more satiated — and as a result they eat significantly fewer calories.

Try Christine’s recipe for Healthy Thai Tofu Curry to inspire you in your Veganuary challenge – or simply for a tasty, meat-free meal!

Marion McGivern

As editor of the cookery, money, pets and eco pages, Marion covers a wide range of regular Features content. Along with the rest of the Team, she enjoys finding interesting features for both the weekly and Special issues that readers will love. Having so much variety every day means that over ten years with the “Friend” has just flown by!