From chewing to chocolate, these nutrition hacks will have you rediscovering the joy of food, harnessing its nourishing power and feeling better immediately.
Good nutrition doesn’t lead to overnight results, though sometimes a simple action can have a dramatic impact (such as cutting out a food to which we’re sensitive), but generally, slow and steady wins the race. TLL spoke to registered nutritionist Fiona Lawson about how we can sustain healthy habits – as well as enjoy one or two quick wins.
Simple yet essential! Eating quickly puts strain on our digestion because food isn’t properly chewed, plus we don’t register how full we are until it’s too late.
You don’t have to chew every bite laboriously. Instead, take five deep breaths before you start your meal; put your cutlery down between each mouthful, and aim to make the meal last 20 minutes. Your digestion will feel smoother and, in the long term, it could even enhance your figure.
Hydration, hydration, hydration
You begin to feel thirsty when you lose just 1% of your body’s water volume. Dehydration can leave you tired, unable to concentrate and prone to irritation.
Think of water as liquid energy. When you feel hungry or fatigued, drink a large glassful. Most people feel instantly better (and less desperate for a snack!). To tempt you to keep topped up, infuse a jug of water with fresh fruit and keep it within arm’s reach.
Protein for breakfast
Breakfast really is important. It has a huge impact on the hormones that regulate appetite, meaning it has a knock-on effect on what and how much you eat during the rest of the day.
Balancing your blood sugar helps stabilise appetite. You’ll naturally consume fewer calories during the day if you eat protein, such as eggs, Greek yoghurt or chia seeds, for breakfast.
Fill half your plate with veg
Like protein, vegetables are effective at satisfying hunger, due to their fibre content and because a delicious mound of vegetables plays to the visual cues that make us feel satisfied.
The phytonutrients in colourful vegetables offer a host of health benefits and eating a wide variety on a regular basis will help combat inflammation, regulate hormones and even boost your mood.
Say goodbye to diet drinks
‘Positive nutrition’ means we should pay more attention to what we’re adding in, rather than taking away. However, sometimes there’s good reason to reduce or eliminate certain foods.
The artificial sweetness of diet drinks can increase appetite, while synthetic sweeteners may have a detrimental effect on our gut bacteria. To reduce cravings and enhance digestion, slowly reduce your diet drink intake, or try kombucha, a fizzy drink that promotes gut health.
Enjoy dark chocolate
Can chocolate really be healthy? Scientific studies show that eating chocolate stimulates the release of endorphins – hormones that quickly make you feel good.
The trick is to choose chocolate that’s 70%+ cocoa solids, which contains less health-zapping sugar, and a high concentration of flavanols in the cocoa which can have a positive impact on BMI over time.
Early to bed
Not strictly a nutrition habit, but it can influence the way we eat, because the less you sleep, the more you crave high-calorie foods.
So getting that extra hour of sleep can transform your appetite overnight (see, quick results are possible!). Celebrate bedtime with a wind-down routine: enjoy a warm bath, dip into your favourite novel and sip a soothing cup of valerian tea.
After a restorative slumber, you’ll feel motivated to employ more of these healthy hacks, leaving you feeling revitalised in the short term – and glowing with health going forward.
Fiona Lawson is a registered nutritionist (mBANT)