After months of rolling lockdowns in the UK, a fresh start is on the horizon for the country as well as our health. The lifting of restrictions means now is the ideal time to ditch an unhealthy habits we may have adopted during lockdown. To support you on your wellbeing journey, California Raisins shares top tips to help you achieve new health goals.
Setting health goals
In a 2020 survey by the British Nutrition Foundation, 27% of Brits stated they ate ‘a little less healthily’ or ‘much less healthily’ during lockdown. Key triggers included boredom, stress, tiredness and anxiety. What’s more, a further 29% admitted to being less active than usual.
Given these unhealthy habits, it’s perhaps not surprising that many of us have gained a little weight. If this is you, you’re not alone. But know that with small, daily tweaks, you can implement long-term, positive changes that will help you reach your health goals.
Easy ideas to achieve your health goals
Looking for ways to pack more healthy foods into your daily diet? Here are some top tips to boost your health post-lockdown.
Vary your diet
Eating a balanced diet is great for our physical as well as mental health. Balance your diet with a variety of foods from the five main food groups as shown in the Government’s Eatwell Guide. Consume plenty of fruits and vegetables, wholegrain carbs, protein-rich foods (particularly plant-based versions), dairy and unsaturated oils. Don’t forget about portion control, too.
Get your five-a-day
Most veggies and fruits are low in fat and calories, as well as being rich in fibre, which helps to keep us full. Although many of us increased our intake of fruit and veg during lockdown, research shows that most of us still aren’t getting the recommended amount. In fact, around seven out of 10 adults and an incredible 88 percent of teenagers are failing to get their five-a-day.
That said, there are plenty of easy ways that you can increase your intake at every meal and even in between. Don’t forget that frozen, canned and dried all count towards your five-a-day. Better yet, they are often cheaper and more convenient than fresh! So why not jazz up your breakfast with a sprinkling of California Raisins over your morning yoghurt or granola? You could also squeeze in some roasted veg to your lunchtime sandwich!
Being prepared makes it easier to stick to a balanced diet. It also means you’re less likely to eat out or order a takeaway. Being organised could be as simple as planning meals in advance and heading to the supermarket with a shopping list for the week. Just remember to stick to the list!
If you find yourself mindlessly munching on snacks throughout the day, we hear you. You can help curb that lockdown habit by keeping a food dairy for a week. Jot down everything that you eat and drink. You’ll find that you become more aware of your own eating patterns and can easily spot opportunities for positive changes.
Get your cooking mojo back
Lockdown had a positive influence on many people’s cooking habits. But with some people now feeling burnt out, and restaurants now reopening, ready meals and takeaways seem increasingly tempting.
That said, cooking from scratch as much as possible will help you eat more healthily. That’s because you can control the amount of fat, salt and sugar you add to dishes. What’s more, by opting for nutritious ingredients such as oily fish and wholegrains, you can easily boost vitamins and minerals, good fats and gut-friendly fibre.
Why not try batch cooking so you have your own frozen ready meals to hand? Every time you cook, double the portion size, then freeze the remainder in individual servings for speedy and balanced mid-week meals.
Be a smart snacker
According to the PHE Better Health survey, 35 percent of people said they snacked on unhealthy food and drinks at least once a day. That’s an increase from 26% before the pandemic! Granted, it’s tempting to tuck into the biscuit tin due to post-lockdown anxiety. But try to stick to healthy snacks where possible as they’ll offer way more in terms of nutrition that your body needs.
Swap crisps for carrot sticks with homemade tzatziki. Or if you’re on-the-go, opt for a small handful of unsalted nuts, seeds, or dried fruit such as California Raisins.
Be wary of empty calories
We don’t blame you for wanting to enjoy a refreshing drink in the sun. 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. Instead, why not enjoy a non-alcoholic drink such as a mocktail, fruity cooler or homemade lemonade.
Stay away from fad diets
Crash diets can have a range of unpleasant side effects, including headaches, dizziness 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 focus on adopting healthier 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.
Drink plenty of water
Aiming for at least six to eight 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 to take a sip 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 immune and 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 seven to nine hours of quality winks every night.
Staying active is equally as important as eating well. Exercise should never be a punishment, so be sure to opt for activities that you enjoy. This could be going for a walk in the park with the dog, doing a HITT workout with a friend, mowing the lawn or simply playing ball with the kids.
California Raisins can support 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.
A source of fibre and naturally occurring plant compounds, they’ll help keep your digestive system healthy. Plus, they’ll make hitting your 5-a-day target a doddle, as a 30g (one tablespoon) serving counts as one portion.
That’s not all though. 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.
The perfect post-lockdown partner
California Raisins aren’t just nutritious and delicious, 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