Perhaps it should be less surprising that our determination to turn over a new leaf in the New Year is fuelled so powerfully given the excess that preceded it. A time when we are as replete with resolutions as with turkey, booze, chocolates and guilt – the latter being a factor, of course, of the former. Yet resolve we do, with steely determination and the wide, gleaming eyes of the newly converted. This year, goes the dogma, will be the one.
For all those good intentions, only 20% of resolutions make it to the end of January. But if you are depressed by this doom mongering statistic, don’t be. Rather than declaring that in 2013 the plan is to drop to a size zero, run the marathon and swim the English Channel, try to get to the heart of what is really needed by setting bite-sized, realistic and achievable goals.
Health and nutritional aims commonly feature on the resolution list so here are a few starting suggestions that might help to achieve a shinier, happier, healthier you in 2013.
If it’s the sweet tooth you are trying to beat, look for alternative treats such as a couple of squares of good quality 70% dark chocolate. The flavour is so intense even the most avid chocolate lover would struggle to finish a bar. Sweet tropical fruits (mango, pineapple, papaya) provide a healthier sweet fix at the end of a meal. Or try medjool dates which have a fudgy, caramelly sweetness about them that might just hit the spot.
Where caffeine is key, or indeed a crutch, start by gradually cutting back as going cold turkey can actually lead to symptoms of withdrawal. Alternating between full strength and decaf/herbal varieties may also be helpful.
Skipping breakfast entirely leaves the body open to a blood sugar imbalance that leads to the sweetie drawer before you can say ‘sugar rush’. However, be sure to avoid cereals where sugar is listed as one of the first few ingredients. Instead choose a sugar-free muesli or porridge sweetened with a little honey, fresh or dried fruit. Equally, try adding a handful of nuts or seeds to cereal or opt for yoghurt or eggs with wholemeal toast – protein makes us feel fuller for longer and therefore less likely to snack.
Instead of giving up carbohydrates altogether, how about making the change from white to brown pastas, bread, cereals and grains? Brown varieties have higher fibre content (keeping us fuller for longer) and release glucose more slowly into the bloodstream, staving off sugar cravings.
Of course, resolutions don’t have to be about giving things up from your diet. How about introducing different foods, hobbies or exercise? Try a new recipe each week to increase confidence in the kitchen or even better take a healthy eating cookery class or cook and eat course.
For a fresh interest, an evening class at City Lit may give you a new lease of life.
Don’t be put off if, by the middle of January, said resolutions already seem like a distant memory. Acknowledge the setback and start again. Then, once January is over, set some new goals for the following months. There are eleven of them before the excess begins again, after all.
Image by danboarder courtesy of Flickr