The LloydsPharmacy Change your Health direction campaign is in full swing! Customers can call into any LloydsPharmacy branch to avail of free weekly support with losing weight or quitting smoking in the privacy of our Care Rooms. Pharmacist and Change your Health direction coach, Avril Reilly, in LloydsPharmacy Governey Square, Carlow, put together some helpful and simple tips for making a healthy change this January.
January, the month we try everything in our power to undo the damage caused by our Christmas over-indulgences! It’s the month we swear to ourselves that this is our year to get healthy, fitter and lose weight. Perhaps you are tempted to try a detox, a juice fast or the latest fad diet. Paleo perhaps? Or will it be the 5:2 plan?! It’s all so confusing! Each one promises to be the next best thing since sliced bread (gluten free of course!) but they all have one big thing in common….. They don’t work! Sure, you will lose weight initially but once you take your eye off the ball and slip back into old habits, the weight just piles back on, quickly, and usually with an extra few pounds added on for good measure! Not to mention the feelings of deprivation, guilt and failure that go hand in hand with these fads.
So why not try something different? Something that WILL work. Small changes can make a significant difference to our health and weight over time, because they are sustainable and this is the key. If you feel a bit overwhelmed or you just don’t know where to start why not choose one small change to implement each week or fortnight? At LloydsPharmacy, our Change your Health direction (CYHD) programme is all about helping you to achieve your goals through making sustainable changes that you can maintain long-term. Our weight-loss coaches will be there to support and motivate you every step of the way. Call into any branch for more info.
Here are some suggestions on changes that you can introduce easily:
- Good hydration is crucial for weight loss and general good health. Drinking adequate water is one of the simplest improvements you can make and it can even help to control your appetite. Sometimes, we think we are hungry when in fact our bodies just need more fluids! Drinking a glass of water half an hour before each meal can reduce our hunger and prevent us from over-eating.
- Slow down when eating. Remember, digestion starts in the mouth so chew your food really well and eat slowly without distractions from tv or phones if possible. Allow yourself the time to enjoy your food. It’s true that it takes our brains 20 minutes or so to realise we are full so before you rush to fill up on seconds, wait for a while and ask yourself if you really are still hungry.
- Avoid the hunger! When you let yourself get to that stage where you are absolutely ravenous, you are so much less likely to choose the healthy option! Carrot sticks are just not going to cut it! On the CYHD programme we recommend eating three meals and two snacks per day so you never have to go longer than three hours or so without eating. This really can help to stabilise blood sugars and keep hunger at bay, giving you more control over your food choices.
- Meal planning: Sounds like hard work, but planning and organising your meals and snacks will ensure that you always have a healthy option to hand. Spending an hour a week making a plan and a shopping list is a great investment of time. It will also save you money as you are less likely to have waste!
- At LloydsPharmacy, we are big fans of coconut oil to use for cooking and baking as well as for its numerous beauty uses! Give it a go instead of your usual cooking oil the next time you are making a stir-fry or curry! Delicious!
- Cold pressed oils such as olive oil, flaxseed oil or Udos Oil are a healthier option for dressing salads compared to shop bought dressings. Simply mix some oil with balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar, add freshly ground pepper and a pinch of chilli flakes and there you have it!
- Porridge doesn’t have to be bland or boring. There are so many options as it can be made from oats, buckwheat or quinoa. Add some berries and Greek yogurt or stir in some milled chia seeds or a teaspoon of Meridian nut butter. A scoop of heart up is another great addition to porridge for a bit of added flavour and it also helps to balance blood sugars and lower cholesterol. Porridge is a fantastic swap for processed breakfast cereals which are often laden with sugar and leave you feeling hungry an hour later.
- Eliminate fizzy drinks. Add slices of lime and lemon to sparkling water with plenty of ice for a refreshing, hydrating thirst quencher. Or try adding a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to sparkling water for a healthy take on cidona!
- Reduce refined sugars and artificial sweeteners. Opt for natural sweeteners such as honey, Nua Naturals agave nectar or xylitol. Xylitol has even been shown to have anti-bacterial properties which makes it a kinder option for your teeth!
- Portion-control. Keeping an eye on your portions is another key for success. There’s no need to cut out the carbs or fats once they are eaten in the correct amounts. On the CYHD programme, we recommend the healthy eating plate consisting of a quarter protein source such as meat, fish, eggs (palm size portion), a quarter carbohydrate such as rice, potatoes, pasta (cupped handful) and half a plate of vegetables and/or salad. A very useful guide!
- Load up on greens! A fantastic way to detoxify, energise and alkalise the body. Try some kale, spinach, spirulina or wheatgrass blended into a smoothie. Can’t hack the taste of spirulina? It comes in capsule form too with no aftertaste! Adding a portion of steamed greens to your main meal is another sure-fire way to super charge your nutrient intake!
- Reduce your intake of trans-fats found in margarines, spreads and baked goods. Why not try some mashed avocado or even some meridian butter as an incredibly tasty and satisfying spread. Mashed avocado on wholemeal toast is truly delicious and almond butter on oat cakes or rice cakes is a tasty snack option – lovely with a cup of tea!
- Wholemeal brown bread is more filling and a much healthier alternative to processed sliced pans. Check the labels for added sugars or chance making your own!
- Can’t live without pizza? You don’t have to! But why not choose a healthy, quick and easy alternative to the take-away or frozen varieties. Simply use a wholemeal wrap as the base, spread on some tomato puree, add some chopped veggies and bake! Yum!
- Give herbal teas a go! Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting for a second that you give up your beloved tea or coffee but why not substitute one or two of your daily cups for a tasty herbal tea. At selected LloydsPharmacy, we now stock a wide variety of herbal teas such as Koyu matcha green tea, Niks tea and the ever so popular MissFit skinny tea!
I’m sure you will agree that all of these suggested options are sustainable over the long term, right? Small changes really can make a big difference. Finally, focus on nourishing your body and introducing good habits and healthy foods into your lifestyle. After a while, you will be surprised at how they tend to flood out the less healthy options and bad habits. Also, remember that flexibility is important too. It’s the day to day habits and food choices that make the biggest difference to our overall health, not the occasional take away or dessert. Allowing yourself to enjoy treats from time to time, without guilt, is absolutely essential for a long-term sustainable healthy eating plan.
Best of luck to anyone making a healthy change this January. It doesn’t have to be difficult!
All the products mentioned are available in LloydsPharmacy.