This year, how about making some nutrition resolutions to make 2021 your healthiest year yet? If you’re out to improve your diet, here are 5 simple goals you might like to choose from.
Nutrition Resolution #1 | Include fruit & vegetables with every meal
It’s simple – more fruit and veg in your diet means more vitamins & minerals. Extra vitamin C will help you recover from tougher workout sessions. Minerals like potassium and magnesium will keep your fluids balanced and bones healthy.
A particularly good strategy is to include different colours of vegetables in your diet each day. This is an easy way to ensure you’re getting a good variety of nutrients.
For example, you might choose one dark green and one orange vegetable. Dark green leafy vegetables are rich in folate (vitamin B9) and are great for keeping your heart healthy. Fruit and vegetables that are orange contain high levels of beta-carotene. This is a powerful antioxidant and can help you recover and fight off infection.
Practical tips to include fruit and vegetables with every meal
- Breakfast: make yourself a smoothie with a handful of frozen blueberries, some melon, orange juice and yoghurt.
- Lunch: make butternut squash and carrot soup, or roast some capsicums to put in a side salad with some rocket.
- Dinner: if you’re having pasta or a stir-fry, include some broccoli or spinach. Instead of mashed potato, try roasting sweet potato instead.
You might like to check out this article on ways to make your meals more ‘veg forward’.
Nutrition Resolution #2 – Make water your first choice instead of fruit drinks
When you’re thirsty, reach for a glass of water.
Carbonated drinks, sports drinks and even commercial fruit juices can be low in nutrients but high in calories. High-calorie drinks can wreak havoc on your diet as they don’t fill you up. You’ll probably still eat your normal meals and so your overall energy intake will be higher.
Don’t be fooled by thinking freshly squeezed fruit juice is the way to go either. Although you will get some vitamins, you’re not getting any of the fibre or other nutrients. Eat the whole fruit along with your glass of water.
Ways to put this nutrition resolution into practise:
- Make sure you stay hydrated by drinking water before, during and after exercise. Sports drinks can be useful, particularly for intense sessions lasting more than 60 minutes, but they do contain extra calories. If you’re not careful, you’ll consume more calories than you burn, ultimately leading to weight gain despite your exercise efforts.
- Keep a bottle of water handy to sip throughout the day whenever you feel thirsty. Often, thirst signals are mixed up with appetite and hunger pangs. Keep the water close by, drink up and if you’re still hungry 10 minutes later you probably do need food.
- For a quick and easy post-training recovery drink, low-fat chocolate milk is fairly cheap and hard to beat.
Nutrition Resolution #3 – Plan your meals for the next few days
Take an hour at the weekend and decide what breakfasts, lunches, dinners & snacks you’re going to have for the week ahead. Plan it all out, write it down and stick it to your fridge door or in the pantry cupboard.
Eliminating guesswork at mealtimes can be invaluable in keeping you on track. The fewer decisions we have to make, the more likely we are to stick with what works. Especially on busy days when we might be tempted to order from Uber Eats as we haven’t planned appropriately.
In your list for the week, note down what you need to buy and shop accordingly. Consider ordering online delivery to save you more time.
Ways you can get started with meal planning:
- When time allows, make a batch of dinners that you can freeze and use later. Or, better yet, when you’re cooking a meal, double the quantities and freeze half. It doesn’t actually take that much longer to make 8 portions of a recipe that might normally serve 4. It might take you 5 or 10 minutes more prep, but the cooking time will generally be the same. Get into the habit of eating one now, freeze one for later.
- On nights when you’re having one of your freezer meals, all you have to do is cook some veg in a saucepan. Or you could steam them, or prepare a quick and simple salad.
- Ignore the supermarket shelves with endless supplies of ready meals, jarred sauces and prepared pasta. Make your money go further by stocking up on basic ingredients. Get your hands on a good cookbook and make more of your meals from scratch. You’ll also get the added nutritional bonus of knowing exactly what’s in your food. Additionally, you’ll be able to swap in extra veg or adjust ingredients for more nutritious alternatives.
I’m passionate about cooking fresh meals from scratch. I understand though that many people are put off as they believe it works out more expensive. If that’s you, have a read through this article I put together detailing ways to save money at the supermarket and still eat healthy and nutritious meals.
Nutrition Resolution #4 – Promote rapid recovery after exercise
Every serious gym-goer or recreational (or professional) athlete needs to recover properly. Recovery nutrition is one of the cornerstones of my sports nutrition consultations.
To shorten the time it takes your body to recover from a workout, eat carbohydrates with a little protein as soon as you can. Don’t worry, you don’t need to start scoffing before you’ve left the gym changing room. Within an hour of finishing your session will be fine.
Good recovery nutrition will allow you to start your next workout properly prepared. As a result, you’ll get more out of the session and your body.
If you like to be particularly clued-up, ideally your post-training snack should contain about a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein. In real terms, you’re looking at around 10-20g protein and 40 to 60g carbohydrate.
Putting this nutrition resolution into action
- Within half an hour of training, have 2 cups skimmed milk. Research has shown milk is great for helping muscles recover and alleviates muscle soreness more than water or sports drinks.
- Bring your food with you to your training session. In doing so, you can start your refuelling process immediately. On the drive home for example. Suitable options might be yoghurt, cereal and muesli bars, milk or yoghurt drinks and dried fruit & nuts.
- For a real quick recovery shake, blitz 150g yoghurt, a banana and 150ml skimmed milk in a nutribullet or blender.
Read more about the benefits of yoghurt in a sports diet and how it helps you recover.
Nutrition Resolution #5 – Eat more fish
Fish can be thought of as one of nature’s superfoods. It’s an excellent source of protein, low in saturated fat plus it’s a source of those all-important omega-3s.
Australian dietary guidelines recommend that we consume at least 2 serves of fish every week, preferably oily fish. Oily fish are the likes of mackerel, sardines, salmon, herring and fresh tuna.
How to get into the habit of eating more fish
- Cook fish en papillote. Wrap any firm white fish along with some vegetables and herbs in a square of greaseproof or parchment paper. Bake in a 220C oven for 10 to 15 minutes. The flavours of the fish and the veg will mingle and combine and the fish will be deliciously tender.
- Make quick fish fritters. Mix a tin of salmon with a beaten egg and a handful of breadcrumbs. Combine to make small patties and fry gently in olive oil. Serve with an easy dip made from a dollop of yoghurt and some chopped fresh herbs. Mix & match the flavours to suit your taste preferences. You might want to experiment with lemon, garlic, dill, parsley, coriander, orange and ginger. You might even want to include a splash of teriyaki or soy sauce. The possibilities are endless.
Which of these 5 nutrition resolutions are you going to try in 2021? Or are you going to give them all a go? Let me know in the comment section below what your thoughts are.
When you’re done with that you might want to have a read at my Setting a New Year, New You Goal post next.