Sometimes knowledge alone isn't always enough to stick to a healthy diet - you have to have a strong desire to eat well and maintain better eating habits alongside this knowledge.
Nevertheless, you don’t always have to rely on your willpower.
Ultimate Performance, one of Manchester's leading personal training gyms have put together 18 top tips, based on the most commonly-asked questions they get asked, that will make sticking to a healthier diet so much easier...
What's the easiest way to transition to a healthier eating lifestyle?
1. Make small changes to your eating habits to begin with. Don’t expect yourself to be able to stick to lots of new rules and concepts all at once. Take it slowly and master one new habit at a time; for instance drinking more water or avoiding processed foods.
2. Switch your breakfast to a high protein, low carbohydrate option. Many people begin their day with a high carbohydrate breakfast, however, this won’t keep you feeling full like a high protein meal would. Try a simple combination of eggs and lean meat or a mixed vegetable omelette.
3. Eat more vegetables. Each plate of food you have, should ideally be at least half full with vegetables. There are so many varieties to choose from so make an effort to include a good portion at each meal. This will help to keep you full and increase your fibre intake too, benefitting your digestive system.
4. Get more sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, you start the day tired and groggy. You are more likely to reach for a caffeinated drink or a sugary snack when you are tired, so try to get at least eight hours a night.
5. Stop shopping in the confectionary aisle. If you don’t buy it, you won’t eat it. Try to shop around the perimeter of the supermarket and avoid temptation.
6. Drink more water. It is very easy to mistake being dehydrated for feeling hungry, so aim to drink 2-3 litres of water a day to avoid mindless snacking.
7. Avoid sugar. Sugar will never fill you up or satisfy you, and offers no real nutritional benefit to your diet. Lose the sweet stuff and stick to natural sweetness from berries and herbal teas. Eating sugar can feel addictive, so reduce your intake gradually and you will find that you crave it less.
How can I drink more water, it tastes boring?
8. Buy a big bottle. If you buy a large bottle of water, 2 litres, for example, you can visualise your target for the day. Your body will function well if it is hydrated, so keep your water bottle handy and sip it throughout the day.
9. Flavour with fruits. Add berries, lemon, lime, mint or cucumber to your water to give it a fresh flavour. Avoid cordial or artificially sweetened additions - stick to natural sources instead.
10. Drink herbal teas. Herbal teas all come with their own array of proclaimed health benefits, but they will also help to increase your water intake. There are hundreds of varieties to choose from, and you could even try them on ice, for a refreshing cold drink.
How can I get more vegetables into my diet?
11. Seasoning. Using herbs, spices and fresh garlic is a simple but effective way to make vegetables taste great. Roast Mediterranean vegetables with smoked paprika and fresh garlic for a delicious accompaniment to any dish. Try stir-frying broccoli, sugar snap peas and baby corn with fresh coriander and lime juice for a zesty side of vegetables. The options are endless, so don’t be boring.
12. Cooking techniques. If your vegetables look a little sorry for themselves and you like to boil a big batch for your meal prep, try this technique instead. Blanching your vegetables is simple and helps to keep that delicious crunch. It also helps to retain the nutrients in your vegetables, that can be lost through over-cooking. Boil a pan of salted water and add your vegetables. Allow to cook for two minutes and then drain. Immediately, submerge the cooked vegetables into ice-cold water and then pat dry. Season well.
13. Eat a variety of colours. A common expression you might have heard when it comes to fruit and vegetables is to ‘eat the rainbow’. Various vegetables have different vitamin and mineral profiles, and by eating an array of colours you can get a good variety of each. Think red peppers, yellow butternut squash, green broccoli, purple beetroot, orange carrots and dark green kale.
14. Spiralizer. If you’re really not a fan of vegetables, try some quick tricks like spiralizing your food. Courgette, butternut squash, beetroot and carrot all make great vegetables for spiralizing. You can then use them to substitute high carbohydrate foods like pasta and noodles. You could also blend cauliflower or broccoli in a food processor, to create a rice-like consistency.
How can I reduce cravings?
15. Stop eating sugar. Sugar can feel like it's addictive, so reduce your consumption and your cravings will reduce too. If you can work towards cutting out sugar completely, you will be surprised at how little you crave it. Avoid using artificial sweeteners as a sugar replacement as these can increase your desire for something sweet and increase your appetite.
16. Don’t shop when you’re hungry. When you’re hungry, everything seems appetising. Be prepared, cook your meals in advance and do your shopping on a full stomach, to avoid temptation.
17. Brush your teeth and chew gum. A Nick Mitchell top tip for when you are craving something unhealthy is to brush your teeth or chew gum to stop cravings in their tracks. Mint is great at suppressing cravings, and your brain may also associate the taste of mint with the end of the day, thus quelling your desire to eat again.
18. Eat regularly throughout the day. If you eat small meals throughout the day, you won’t allow yourself to get hungry. Cravings are always heightened when hungry, so eat at regular intervals.
Hopefully, these tips will help you on your journey to achieving a healthier lifestyle and improving your dietary habits.