The season of excess is over, which means it's time to get back to eating more healthy foods. While it can be easy to just start eating as you usually do once again, you might want to get rid of the extra few pounds you've accumulated over the festive period.
Exercise will help you do this, but healthy eating is also key. Now could also be the ideal time to address other unhealthy diet habits you have, allowing you to start 2016 on a good foot and improve your overall health and wellbeing.
There are some easy changes you can make every day and things you can check when shopping that could totally change your diet without you even realising. Here are some simple steps to help you get healthy this year:
Check your sugar intake
It is easy to reach for low-fat options and believe that you are making the right choice, however, a lot of low-fat foods use fillers to help them taste just as good as the full-fat equivalent. One such filler is sugar, which is just as harmful to your health.
It is a good idea, therefore, to start checking the nutritional information on food you buy to ensure that you aren't swapping out fat for sugar.
You may also want to reduce how much sugar you have in other things, such as your tea or coffee, as it all adds up. Rather than going cold turkey though, you can use natural sweeteners like stevia or agave nectar, which are much better for you and actually sweeter. These can be used in baking, cooking and hot drinks so make reducing sugar simple.
One of the biggest problems many people have when it comes to food is not what they eat but how much of it they eat. If you want to make a small change that will have good effects over the year, try controlling your portions better.
This doesn't necessarily mean weighing out every single thing you eat – unless you want to do it that way – but being aware of recommended portion sizes is a good place to start.
You may also want to invest in smaller plates for your meals, as this can help you dish up smaller portions while also tricking your brain into thinking you've eaten a standard portion. Of course, you also want to ensure meals are balanced in order to see the best results.
A really easy change to make is to opt for more vegetables with each meal. Using veggies as a filler for meals rather than carbs – such as potatoes or pasta – will instantly make meals healthier and could ensure you are exercising better portion control.
Ideally, every meal should include at least one type vegetable in order to be balanced. You can use them to replace starchy foods completely too, allowing you to create healthy meals that are just as filling.
Vegetables can be used as substitutes for pasta, chips, rice and even pizza bread. Some veggies can even be used within baking, resulting in healthier cakes that are just as delicious as your usual varieties.
You can even use vegetables as alternatives to your usual snacks. Why not try making some baked vegetable crisps or reaching for carrot sticks rather than a biscuit or bag of fried crisps? Not only can these options work out cheaper, they are definitely healthier.
A lot of the time you think you're hungry, you're actually thirsty. Rather than sticking to tea, coffee, juice or fizzy soda during the day, ensure you have a glass or bottle of water to hand.
If you feel the urge to snack, have some water instead and see if that is what you actually wanted. Your body needs eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated, which will leave you feeling healthier and fuller, allowing you to successfully reduce portion sizes and cut down on snacking.
On top of these benefits, drinking plenty of water could keep your skin clear and bright, help you sleep better and flush out toxins that build up in your system every day. If this is the only healthy change you make, it will be a good one.