The current weather feels like Summer is nearly here, and whilst we are in lock-down it can be easy to stay out in the garden, catching the rays and stocking up on vitamin D, and whilst we may remember to slap on the sunscreen to stop us from going crispy on the outside, it's important to remember to drink plenty of water to keep us from going crispy on the inside too.
Staying hydrated is key to staying healthy, ideally we should drink 6-8 glasses of water a day. The reason for this is simple, you need to stay hydrated to replace your water loss throughout the day, the health benefits of staying hydrated are mentioned below.
Benefits include (but are not limited to)…
· Promoting cardiovascular health (keeping your heart healthy)
· Helping your muscles and joints contract and work better
· Cleanses your body
· Helps prevent dry mouth, bad breath and potential cavities
All of the benefits sound great right? But how can we go about implementing this change? Follow these next few small steps to make small, but significant, changes to your lifestyle and water intake.
One of the key ways is to look at your water intake and nutrition as being all a part of the same thing, not separate.
Step 1 - Make yourself aware of what your body needs more of (probably water) and what it doesn’t need as much. We’re not saying don’t ever treat yourself, but try to cut down on the unhealthy snacks like chocolate bars and foods high in sugar and fat that don’t have much nutritional value, can you have a chocolate bar once a week or every few days and replace it with a piece of fruit each day instead? Go for foods that are high in nutrition and low in calories –Vegetables are top of the list for sure!
Step 2 – Consider your portion sizes, eating too much or not enough of certain food groups can have a negative impact on your health. Refer to the eat well guide, use a smaller plate, don’t pile up or overlap food and if you’re full save the rest of the food for later on or another day. As a basic guide, for pasta think of a handful as a portion, and for chicken, about a fist size, likewise for your vegetable portions. Water can also help here - drink a large glass before every meal, half of our hunger cravings come from actually being thirsty. Having a drink with every meal ensures we are staying topped up.
Step 3 – Plan your meals in advance, if you have healthy cooked meals ready to go, that should help you resist the urge to nip out on your lunch break to buy that meal deal or lunchtime treat. Make a clear shopping list and stick to it, see some of the healthy recipes below for some ideas and how you can plan ahead and what types of foods and food groups you will need as part of your balanced diet. In the same way you can plan your hydration - set timers in advance so you know when you should have another glass to get you in the habit of drinking water regularly, invest in a large water bottle that holds your water consumption for the day, or fill a jug and place in the fridge ready for when you need it.
Step 4 – Keep a food and water diary or tracker, write it down manually each day or find a useful app on your phone to keep an ongoing record at the touch of a button or two.
Step 5 – Consume more healthy drinks. Like we said above, buy a water bottle, day to day we get so busy that we often find ourselves buying meal deals and having a fizzy drink as it’s convenient, go out and buy your own water bottle. It takes 10 seconds to fill up each evening and put in your bag for the day. This will help you feel fuller for longer and unlike a bottle of fizzy drink, it won’t have a negative effect on your blood sugar levels and leave you feeling hungry, low on energy not long after drinking it or needing to snack again and again because it hasn’t provided your body with enough nutritional value.
Step 6 – Treat yourself! Don’t go overboard but do still eat some of those less healthier foods, just not as often. Enjoy your morning cup of coffee but have a glass of water as well. Have the odd takeaway, go out to that fancy restaurant, eat the odd ice cream, have that pudding. Try setting yourself targets and having a treat to look forward to can help you stay on track and motivated with your healthy eating, just think with all the healthier foods and fluids you are consuming, you have earned it!
Exercise, Nutrition and Hydration
Sorry, I couldn’t resist, I had to find a way to mention exercise at some point, so here it is. When looking at losing weight, it’s all about energy expenditure, it’s about burning or using more energy than you take in and exercise is the only way to achieve it. Furthermore, exercise will lead to a healthier heart, better cholesterol, a strengthened immune system, less stress, improved sleep, improve confidence, better mood and better sexual function (these two may or may not be linked, cheeky!)
So, what next?
Set yourself a SMART goal, make it specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound, based on the next steps mentioned previously. For example,
Specific – To eat 3 regular healthy meals a day from now.
Measurable – I will record what I eat using my food diary and the eat well guide will help me choose my meal content.
Achievable – I have been eating 4 meals a day so I only need to cut 1 meal out, and eating healthier foods will leave me feeling fuller for longer.
Realistic – This is a small change of only cutting out 1 meal a day.
Time Bound – I will achieve this within the next 7 days.
For more support and to register for our Eat Well, Lose Weight pathway check out your eligibility on our Lincolnshire Residents page.