Leanne Ward, Dietitian and Nutritionist
Follow me on Instagram: @the_fitness_dietitian
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- Nutrition Couch Podcast
- The Leanne Ward Nutrition Podcast
After coming out of winter, it’s easy for most to find the motivation to eat better and move more as the weather warms up but, we often struggle with overwhelm when it comes to our health. The below 5 tips are an easy way to re-set our health this spring. These tips are achievable things to focus on day to day for busy people who want change but often struggle to find extra hours to exercise or meal prep.
Increase your step count
Generally during winter, our exercise and step count takes a nose dive. The colder months have most of us hibernating at home but as the weather warms up, it’s a great time to focus on moving more. Many Australians have desk jobs so their step count is quite low each day. Although the ‘gold standard’ is 10,000 steps each day, this is unachievable for most busy adults with desk jobs. Rather than overwhelming ourselves with an unrealistic target, just aim to get 2,000-3,000 more steps than you are currently doing. If you average 4,000 steps a day, push for 6,000 steps a day. Progress beats perfection any day, especially when you can do it consistently over time.
Eat more plants
Eating more plants improves our gut microbiome and in turn, may have positive impacts on our mood, immunity and weight as well. Not only are plants packed full of fibre, they also contain other essential nutrients and help to fill us up as well. So, if your goal is weight loss, start eating more plants! Eating more plants adds more diversity to our diet which is fabulous for a Spring reset. A plant is considered one of the following in its wholefood form; fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains such as rolled oats or brown rice, nuts and seeds. Points are given for each different variety or type of plant so if you eat a red capsicum and a green capsicum, you get 2 plant points. If you eat almonds and cashews, you get 2 plant points rather than just 1 if you only ate almonds. Your goal is to get 30+ plant points a week. Refined versions of plants don’t count so ditch the juice and corn chips and stick to the wholefood form like fresh fruit or a cob of corn the majority of the time.
Soul Origin has a wide range of salads together with a range of plant-based foods. There are over 24 different combinations of salad to choose from, providing the perfect solution for incorporating more plants into your diet. Falafel is an excellent alternative. The NEW Green Pea Falafel salad is a must try. Soul Origin’s green pea falafel is a blend of green peas and chickpeas, mixed with herbs, spices and a blend of quinoa and brown rice.
Drink more water
Hydration is key as it helps to prevent headaches, regulate our body temperature, keep our organs functioning properly, prevent infections and even help lubricate our joints. Many of us don’t drink enough water and although we may be well hydrated, our fluid is often coming from high sugar sources such as iced coffees, juice and soft drinks. Water is difficult to give recommendations for as we are all different. As a general guide, we want 2-3 litres of fluid a day with the majority of that fluid coming from water. Aim to drink 1-2 cups of water with every meal and another 1-2 cups between meals if you struggle to drink enough. Linking water intake to meal times can be an easy way to increase your water intake.
Eat more protein
Protein is a key macronutrient that helps to keep us fuller for longer and also supports us metabolically. I generally see most people eating far too much protein or far too little. It’s best to spread your protein intake fairly evenly throughout the day and this is where I see a lot of people going wrong. They lack adequate protein at breakfast and lunch than have far too much at dinner time. As a general guide, most healthy adults want to aim for 0.8-1g of protein per kg of body weight. If your goal is weight loss or muscle gain, I recommend aiming higher at 1.2-1.5g per kg of body weight for healthy adults. A simple way you can increase your protein levels is by enjoying a delicious protein shake. Soul Origin has recently launched their very first protein shakes in three flavours including vanilla, chocolate, and coffee. Each Protein Shake is packed with 30 grams of whey protein. The Coffee Protein Shake is my favourite because it includes an espresso shot of Soul Origin’s signature House Blend, a perfect morning pick me up.
Practise mindful eating
Mindful eating is the art of being present while you eat. It focuses on your sensual awareness of food and your experience eating that food. It doesn’t tend to focus on calories, macronutrients, micronutrients or weight loss. Most busy adults eat far too quickly and don’t gain enough pleasure or satisfaction from their meal so they end up overeating or looking for another treat straight after a meal. Try to eat your meals slowly, without distractions (no scrolling on your phone) and pay attention to the individual flavours of your meal. This helps to improve satisfaction of your meal, often improves digestion and unintentionally reduces your intake in some instances as you are able to recognise you are fuller sooner.