With Nutrition and Hydration Week upon us, now is the perfect time to highlight the ways you can make some big improvements to your wellbeing, by only making small lifestyle changes. Here are our top ways to improve your nutrition and hydration, one small step at a time.
Whether it’s wanting to eat less sugar, drink more water or aiming to move more, there’s probably something about your current lifestyle that you’d love to improve. But, if you’re like the rest of us, you might think that overhauling your current regimes would be incredibly difficult. As humans, we’re designed to fall back into old habits, meaning change can seem almost impossible.
The truth? Making big changes always starts with the small steps, especially with nutrition and exercise. Eating one less biscuit with your cuppa, cutting out that glass of pop at lunchtime, or drinking some water as soon as you wake up; these all lead to the biggest changes in the long run.
By now, we all know about moderation. Going full throttle into anything is likely to lead to failure, whereas slow and steady always wins the race. As Forbe states, you’re more likely to fail and ruin your morale if you try to do too much at once.
So, what small changes can you make to your lifestyle to improve your nutrition, hydration and overall wellbeing this week? Here are our go-to tips.
If you’re struggling with portion control, and you want to be more aware of the size of your meals, then using smaller crockery is your best step to success. You’ve probably heard of this one before, but it’s true that eating from smaller plates can really make a massive difference. There’s a reason this is such a popular tip; it works.
Don’t believe us? It was found that shifting from a 12-inch plate to a 10-inch plate can cause a 22% decrease in calories consumed. Crazy, right? This stems from the illusion that a portion of food on a small plate looks larger than that same portion on a larger plate.
This tip is a super easy one to implement. Cook your dinner as usual, and then load it up onto one of your smaller plates or bowls. You don’t even really need to pay attention to how much you’re consuming – it’ll be less than normal regardless. Plus, you can use the leftovers for lunch tomorrow… win!
Drinking more water
Getting in your 2 litres of water a day can be a task. It’s not something you can cross off your to-do list in 10 minutes – it’s a whole day ordeal. This makes it extremely easy to forget, put off until later, and then say you’ll try again tomorrow.
Keeping your water intake at its optimal is a sure way to boost your mental performance, physical performance and mood. As little as 1% of fluid loss can reduce mental performance, and 2% can affect you physically. Daily dehydration really does take a toll, which is why we’re constantly told how important keeping up our water intake really is.
Luckily, staying hydrated is an easy habit to hack. One way to ensure you’re drinking enough is to get into the habit of carrying a water bottle. Whether it’s a gallon-large labelled bottle or a half-pint fit-in-your-bag number, carrying a reusable bottle with you wherever you go will always remind you to take a sip. You remove the excuse of not having water nearby, and, when you see the bottle, you’ll be nudged in the right direction.
Another way to up your water intake is to attach this habit to another. Figure out something you do on the daily, and make sure you have a glass of water while doing it. Whether it’s drinking a bottle in the car on your way to work, or sipping away while you’re eating your dinner, you’ll up your intake in no time, without even realising. This is one of James Clear’s tips; all habits start with a cue. If your cue to have some water is something you already do regularly, hydration will become a habit in no time.
Eat a proper breakfast
Eating a decent breakfast improves your energy, improves metabolism, reduces overeating, stabilises blood sugar levels, and improves concentration. Yet, only one in three of us eat breakfast every morning. It can fall to the bottom of the priorities, with kids to get to school, a shirt to iron and traffic to contend with. Yet, as research suggests, breakfast is super helpful to setting you up for the day.
Reaching for breakfast biscuits when you’re at the office, or nibbling at the donuts at work because you’re famished, can all lead to a sugar crash later in the day – which isn’t ideal for anyone.
If breakfast is something you struggle to prioritise in the morning, then we recommend sorting it out the day before. Leave yourself some overnight oats in the fridge so you can grab it on your way out the door. Take some eggs to work to cook in the office before your morning meeting. Stock up on some healthy yoghurts and blueberries when you next do a food shop. It doesn’t have to be fancy, and you don’t need to get up 15 minutes earlier to cook a gourmet meal – keeping it simple is more likely to yield results.
We’re all mega guilty of eating while being distracted. When was the last time you ate your dinner without the TV on in the background, or without your phone in your hand? (We can’t remember either…).
The truth is that it’s easy to get carried away when our attention isn’t 100% committed to what we’re eating. This leads to a dulled satisfaction, and we don’t really know whether we’re full or not until it’s too late. Eating more, eating the wrong things, and not being satiated are all symptoms of eating distracted, and this is a recipe for poor food decisions.
So, how do you fix this? Next time you’re about to sit down to eat on your lunch break, spark a conversation with a co-worker rather than pulling up your emails. Pay attention to your food, to how it truly tastes, and to whether it’s filling you up or not. Next time you go to flick the TV on when having dinner, sit up at the dinner table instead. Embrace the full sensations of the meal and truly enjoy it for what it is. Plus, being mindful makes the food taste 10x better anyway – we promise.
If you’re looking to improve your nutrition and hydration, there are a bunch of things you can do to help. Building a new habit, or kicking an old one, really doesn’t have to be as difficult as it’s made out to be.
Our philosophy is this: start small. Whether it’s hitting a new PB at the gym or losing a few pounds before your birthday, going about these achievable goals in the right way will take you to success.
If you have a large goal you want to achieve, firstly, write it down. Secondly, figure out when you want to hit it by, and make this realistic (losing 5kg in 2 weeks isn’t sensible). Thirdly, break down the goal into small stages. Take the number of weeks you have, and proportion these goals into those weeks. Collectively, as long as you hit those mini goals, you’ll reach the end in no time.