After more than a year of rolling lockdowns due to the pandemic, a fresh start is on the horizon for the country, and possibly for our health, too. England’s so-called ‘Freedom Day’ (which is set to go ahead on Monday July 19) means we could soon be reunited with friends and family. Restrictions being lifted not only gives us a chance to rebuild our lives, it’s the perfect time to leave an unhealthy lockdown lifestyle behind to boost your wellbeing. Here, California Raisins shares top tips to help you achieve new health goals.
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Easy ways to achieve your health goals
Has your health taken a hit during lockdown? California Raisins is here to support your health goals with easy ideas to make a positive change
Setting health goals for a positive change
A survey commissioned by the British Nutrition Foundation in 2020 revealed that more than a quarter of Brits (27%) stated they ate ‘a little less healthily’ or ‘much less healthily’ during the months of lockdown. What’s more, a further 29% admitted to being less active than usual, as a result of the gym and fitness studio closures, the end of team sports and even the lack of the daily commute to work to blame.
With that mind mind, it’s perhaps not surprising that many of us have gained a little weight or just aren’t feeling our healthiest. If this is you, you’re not alone. But don’t panic or feel like you have to make drastic changes. Instead, know that small, daily tweaks can bring about long-term positive changes and help you achieve your health goals in the future.
Speaking of positive changes, the ‘stay at home’ rule seemingly put a spring in the nation’s step. A recent PHE survey of over 5,000 adults has found that 70% of us are now motivated to make positive changes to our diet and lifestyle. Indeed, around 40% of us now want to eat healthier, lose weight (39%), exercise more (41%), quit smoking (43%) and drink less alcohol (45%).
Easy ideas to achieve your health goals
Here’s how to pack more healthy foods into your daily diet to help ensure the best health for yourself post-lockdown…
Eat a balanced diet
The benefits of eating a balanced diet go well beyond improvements in our physical health, by having a positive impact on our mental health, too. Balance your diet right with a wide range of foods from the five main food groups as shown in the Government’s Eatwell Guide. These include fruits and vegetables, wholegrain carbs, protein-rich foods (and championing plant-based versions, such as beans and pulses), dairy and unsaturated oils. Keeping portion-control in mind and ensuring you’re getting all the key nutrients you need can help support a healthy body and mind.
Aim for five-a-day
Most fruits and vegetables are low in fat and calories, and rich in fibre, which helps to keep us full, making them ideal if you want to lose body fat. Despite many of us eating more fruit and veg during lockdown, research shows that most of us still struggle. In fact, around seven out of 10 adults and a massive 88% of teenagers are failing to hit the five-a-day target.
But with a little bit of know-how, you can easily up your fruit and veg tally at every meal and snacking occasion. Don’t forget that frozen, canned and dried all count towards your five-a-day – and are often cheaper and more convenient than fresh! Need some ideas? Why not sprinkle a handful of California Raisins over your morning yoghurt or granola, add an extra veg topping, such as slices of tomato or mushroom onto your takeaway pizza, give your one-pot wonders a boost with a tin of mixed beans or lentils, or squeeze in some roasted veg to your lunchtime sandwich?
Being prepared makes it easier to stick to a balanced diet and means you’re less likely to eat out or order a takeaway. Staying on track can be as simple as planning meals in advance and heading to the supermarket with a shopping list for the week ahead, or doing a food shop online. We like the rule, ‘If it’s not on the list, it’s not coming home!’
Eat more mindfully
Munching mindlessly on snacks all day in order to keep your energy levels high? We hear you. Help curb that lockdown habit by keeping a food dairy for a week. List every single mouthful you eat and drink to help you become more aware of your own eating patterns. You may just find that you easily spot opportunities for positive changes.
Cook from scratch
Cooking from scratch as much as possible automatically means we can eat more healthily. That’s because you can control the amount of fat, salt and sugar you add to dishes. Plus, you can boost vitamins and minerals, good fats and gut healthy fibre by adding nutritious ingredients such as veggies, dried fruit and wholegrains.
Why not get prepared with make-ahead freezer meals, too? Batch cook recipes such as lasagne and curry by doubling the quantities you make and freezing the remainder in individual servings for speedy and balanced mid-week meals.
Consider your snacks
According to the PHE Better Health survey, one third of people said they snacked on unhealthy food and drinks at least once a day. That’s an increase from 26% before the pandemic! So while it may be tempting to open up the chocolate box when post-lockdown anxiety kicks in, try to stick to healthy snacks where possible. They’ll offer way more in terms of nutrition that your body needs.
Be wary of empty calories
We wouldn’t blame you for wanting to enjoy a drink with friends to celebrate restrictions lifting. But alcohol is full of calories and lacks nutrients, so cutting back will benefit your summer waistline, as well as your liver. Stick to sensible drinking guidelines, which advise consuming no more than 14 units of alcohol per week. Why not enjoy a non-alcoholic drink such as a mocktail, fruity cooler or homemade lemonade?
Don’t fall for fad diets
Crash diets can have a range of unpleasant side effects, including headaches, irritability and low mood. This can result in you giving up quickly, feeling ashamed for not being able to stick with the diet and potentially even gaining more weight.
Instead, ditch the diet mentality altogether, and instead focus on adopting healthier, long-term habits. Think about what you can add in, rather than remove from your diet. That could mean adding a side of salad to your dinner or bulking up a smoothie with chopped California Raisins. These small, daily changes are the ones you’re more likely to stick to.
Aiming for at least 6-8 glasses of fluid a day is essential when it comes to keeping your body in good working order. With the exception of alcohol, all fluids count, including no-added sugar cordials and soft drinks, fruit juice, milk, tea and coffee. That said, water is always the best choice for hydration, as it’s sugar and calorie-free! Don’t wait until you’re thirsty though. By the time this feeling kicks in, it’s usually a sign that you’re already mildly dehydrated.
Get your 40 winks
Sleep is incredibly important for our overall health, as it allows the body to rest and repair. What’s more, too little sleep affects our appetite hormones, which can trigger hunger. With that in mind, try to establish a good bedtime routine to get the recommended 7-9 hours of quality winks every night.
Getting exercise and moving more is equally as important as eating well. Exercise should never be a punishment though, so choose activities that you enjoy. This could be going for a walk with the dog, doing a HITT workout with a friend or simply playing ball with the kids.
Supporting your health goals
California Raisins are simple and wholesome by nature – they’re just dried grapes, after all! Ideal for a healthy lifestyle, they can easily become part of a balanced diet, whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, a meat eater or something in-between.
They’ll help keep your digestive system healthy as they’re a source of fibre and naturally occurring plant compounds. Plus, they’ll make hitting your 5-a-day target a doddle, as a 30g serving counts as one portion.
California Raisins also contain vitamin B6, potassium, copper, iron, selenium and manganese. They’re also naturally fat- and saturated-fat free, low in salt and have a medium glycaemic index (GI. That means they provide a slow release of energy throughout the day.
They’re versatile too! They make a handy snack for on-the-go, but are equally as good in baking recipes or added to savoury dishes.
So what are you waiting for? This ‘Freedom Day’ why not refocus on what really matters to you? With a little helping hand from California Raisins, you can take simple steps to achieve your health goals.
Want more inspiration? Discover more health tips and recipes at californiaraisins.co.uk/health/nutrition