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9 Things a dietitian wants you to know about long-lasting healthy eating

We’ve heard it all before, quit dieting and make lifestyle changes that will last a lifetime. But no matter how hard we try, it’s often easier said than done. When it comes to sustainable, long-term results there’s more to the equation than a quick fix diet and an eight-week challenge at the gym. If you’re ready to get serious about getting in shape and making a change, then you’ve come to the right place. According to Life First dietitian, Nicole Akdagcik there are a couple of key things to remember.


  1. Change doesn’t happen overnight

When you’re starting out Nicole suggests that you focus on one thing at a time, “keep each change small and simple.” While enthusiasm is great and completely overhauling your diet and lifestyle overnight sounds like fun (does it?), it will only get you so far and we want to make sure that the changes you make are here to stay.


“If you make too many changes at once, you are less likely to succeed, become disappointed and then feel less empowered to move forward with your healthy habits.” If you’re after long-term dietary change, slow down, everyone knows that the tourtoise wins the race.


  1. Eat mindfully

When you’re chowing down on your next meal, savour every single mouthful. Nicole recommends that you “pay attention to the texture, smell, taste and look of your food. Eat slowly so you can register when you are full, preventing you from overeating.” Be sure to turn off the television and eat distraction-free, this means that meal times are a definite tech-free zone.


  1. Veg out

Getting your five serves of vegetables and two fruit every day isn’t new advice but it’s still more important than ever, with just 66% of Australian adults getting their recommended daily dose serves. “Fruit and vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and fibre and can help prevent diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease” Nicole comments.


  1. You’re not a quitter

Be a team player and don’t cut out any food groups from your diet, especially not carbohydrates. On the contrary, you should actually include them in your daily intake, especially whole grain carbs. Nicole recommends wholegrain foods as they “are an excellent source of fibre and energy which can reduce your risk of diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Aim for at least five serves a day.”


  1. You’re not in it alone

Before starting your venture make sure you “enlist a support team such as friends, family, psychologist and even pets! When it comes to making behaviours stick, being accountable to someone helps.” A study by the University of London revealed that couples were more likely to make positive changes to their lifestyle if their partner did too1.


  1. Don’t be tempted

Does your walk home include a stroll past your favourite bakery, that smells irresistibly good? Not only is it hard to say no, but it’s also just downright cruel. If like most of us, you find it hard to resist temptations, the best solution is to remove them altogether. Take a different route home and instead of meeting your friend for an after-work cocktail and switch the Moijito for a post-work walk. The same goes for your home and office space, get rid of any unnecessary distractions like unhealthy foods and drinks.


  1. Prepare for life

In the wise words of Benjamin Franklin, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Nicole suggests that “you are likely to have success in healthy habits if you have a clear direction of how to achieve your goals.” Make a plan and stick to it, planning your meals and exercise regimen in advance is a simple way to smash your goals. For example, if you’re organised, you’ll have healthy snacks on hand and can avoid that mid-arvo snack at the vending machine.


  1. Catch the zzz’s

Part of your organisational plan should be getting enough rest. With a new regimen (more workouts, more healthy food) your body will need even more time to rest and recover. Aim for between 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night which will help your muscles repair and recover but it will also help you eat healthier. A study by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that those who didn’t get enough sleep were found to eat on average 1610kJ more than their counterparts who enjoyed a blissful nine hours of sleep2.


  1. Hiccups happen

Falling off the wagon happens to the best of us, don’t let one little slip send you into a downward spiral. When you're attempting to change any kind of behaviour, “falling off the wagon” happens to the best of us. If you do slip off, Nicole says not to “beat yourself up about it. Accept that you didn’t have your best day and simply go back to your healthy habits. Avoid the all or nothing mentality.” Consider this little slip up as a speed hump in the road and get straight back on the road to your healthy behaviours.

You may also be interested in the following articles:

1. Vegetable consumption helps with reducing the risk of cancer

2. THE CSIRO Healthy Diet Report shows Australians have room for improvement

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