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Get your diet back on track this year with the right habits, writes Meera Murugesan

DON’T wait. Do it now.

Procrastination is the biggest hurdle when it comes to changing our diet for the better.

We dwell on it, talk about it, but actually doing something always takes time.

Prince Court Medical Centre consultant dietitian, Judy Ng Wei Chern, says to get started, one should first reflect on one’s diet.

Ask yourself what was not right in 2019? What do I want to change in 2020? What did I do well in 2019 that I would like to continue doing in 2020?

“It is important to determine what triggered unhealthy patterns – it could be that 2019 was a very busy year at work or school. In addition, you may have been trying too hard to change your diet or lifestyle so that it became unsustainable – leaving you discouraged,” she says.

Take a few minutes for reflection. For example, if being busy at work led to an increase in takeaways and the consumption of fast food, then plan your meals a week beforehand now.

You can prepare wraps and sandwiches over the weekend or order from a variety of healthy food delivery services.

You can prepare wraps and sandwiches over the weekend. Picture:Designed by Racool_studio / Freepik.

Ng says people have the perception that a diet means restricting yourself to tasteless soups and salads with no rice or carbohydrates – this is not true. Instead of depriving yourself of your favourite foods, find ways to make it healthier.

For example, swap ice cream for half a cup of low fat frozen yogurt.

In addition, try not to over plan so as to avoid disappointment when you are unable to stick to it. Be reasonable when it comes to your diet and exercise.

More important, stop saying “my diet starts tomorrow” – start today, even if it means 10 minutes of simple exercises or including more vegetables in your meals. You may also reach out to a dietitian for healthier diet modifications you can make.

MINDFUL EATING

Ng explains that it’s also important to practise mindful eating.

This means paying attention to what you are consuming – taking time to enjoy the taste, texture, and scents of food. This will make you more conscious of what goes into your body.

One should also refer to the Healthy Eating Plate concept which includes all the necessary portion sizes for the different food groups such as carbohydrates, proteins, vegetables, fats, fruits, and dairy products.

This can be applied even when you eat out – making all your meals a little healthier.

Get your diet back on track this year. Picture: Designed by Freepik.

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START WITH SMALL CHANGES

Stay Hydrated

The goal is to drink adequate fluids, mostly water, till the urine is consistently pale yellow.

Slow Down

Chew your food well. Experts have indicated that the faster you eat,

the higher the tendency to eat more. Chewing your food well at a slower pace can help reduce your overall intake.

Reduce Deep Fried Foods

Opt for healthier cooking methods such as stewing, baking, pressure cooking, poaching and pan frying.

More Vegetables

Consciously include more vegetables into your diet – even when eating out. The trick is to start off with vegetables before moving to your main course.

Also include more wholegrains into your diet and reduce refined food.

Consciously include more vegetables into your diet. Picture: Designed by Freepik.

Stock Up Healthy

Store healthier food items in the kitchen – more fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator and healthier cereals on the countertops. This can help reduce unhealthy snacking habits.

Store healthier food items in the kitchen. Picture: Designed by Freepik

Have A Shopping List

It helps you buy healthier items and save money too.

Reduce Fast Food

With busy schedules, we often opt for what is fast and convenient. Take a step back and start preparing some simple food items ahead of time such as wraps/sandwiches, cereals with low fat milk/yogurt, or get a healthy meal delivered to you.

Reduce fast food. Picture: Designed by Freepik.

Be More Active

Take the stairs, park your car further, allocate some time

during the day to do some simple exercises. Exercise is also a good stress reliever.

Get Sufficient Rest

Generally, adults require a good 7-9 hours of rest daily. The body requires sleep to restore, repair tissues and synthesise hormones.

Make Weekends Healthier

Choose activities that will keep you physically active (such as playing sports with a group of friends).

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