The thought of changing what and how you eat can feel really overwhelming, particularly when you’ve got a million other things on your plate to deal with.
And when we come up against strong resistance from ourselves, it can be easy to give up and stick with the routine we’re in, even if it makes us feel guilty and not our best.
You might also feel some resistance around the idea of prioritising yourself in this way, when you have a family to take care of or work commitments. This is really common for women, but really, you are entirely worthy of making positive changes to help yourself feel better. And when we look after ourselves, we have more head space and energy for others.
When it comes to making dietary changes, you don’t need to go the whole hog at once. Making small but consistent changes leads to great benefits for your health.
Here are three really easy steps you can take to improve your diet (think more nutritious whole foods, and less sugar) so you can boost your energy levels and feel great in your body. Start with one, and see the difference it makes.
Eating well doesn't need to be complicated: Try these steps
Subscribe to a vegetable box
I love getting my veg box each week. When I spot it on my doorstep I suddenly remember that I don’t need to go food shopping, and that novelty does not wear off.
When your box arrives, make a mental note of what’s in it, how you can add veg to your meals throughout the week and what needs to be used up quickest. Getting the family on board is so important to keeping your healthy eating goal a priority, so get kids involved with this bit and ask them to help go through the box with you.
There are lots of good options for boxes. I use Abel and Cole for organic vegetables, or Odd Box which is a London and South East focused company that reduces food waste by saving slightly “wonky” veg from the bin – the majority of the produce isn’t organic but because of that it’s a cheaper option, and it’s very good quality.
Get energy boosting snacks in
I’m a strong believer in “crowding out” sugary and processed foods from your diet, rather than restriction, because this works long term. Having healthier snacks in the house to reach for when sugar cravings hit will help you make better choices in the heat of the moment. As humans, we go for what’s easy. So make it easy for yourself by buying them in ahead of time.
Some delicious options are Naked bars (they’re naturally sweetened with dates), Deliciously Ella snacks, avocado on wholewheat toast, or keep it simple with fruit and nuts.
There are lots of different reasons we have cravings, but one of them is literally habit. We crave what we have recently eaten. Knowing this can help in the initial change to healthier snacks where cravings are likely to be stronger. Find out more about sweet cravings and how to reduce them in this post.
I did not used to do this. I’d grab a Pret coffee on the way into work and normally subsist on that until lunchtime when I could break away from my emails. But I ended up feeling exhausted and anxious in the afternoons. Now I have porridge every day, and it’s worked wonders in terms of boosting my energy levels and concentration.
When we wake up, the blood sugar our body and brain needs to repair and work properly is usually low, and when we don’t replenish it, you’re more likely to feel tired later in the day or reach for high sugar and high fat foods.
Swapping breakfast for coffee also increases our stress levels, so you could feel wired and more anxious.
Everyone is different, and if the idea of breakfast makes you feel a bit queasy, wait a while after waking before eating and start with something small like a yoghurt, or a small portion of porridge. This chia pudding recipe is a delicious and energising option that takes minutes to throw together the night before.
Changing eating habits is about mindset
Remember that when you make changes to your eating habits, you will have some setbacks, and that's okay. It’s part of the process. Think how long you've been eating the way you have. I bet it's quite a while, and habits take time to unpick before we can embed new, healthier ones.
The important bit is to spot when this is instilling self-limiting beliefs that you have failed, or you “aren’t capable” of doing it at all. You are very capable and worthy of making positive changes to help you feel your best, and any setbacks will help you to grow and learn.
Start small and choose an achievable goal. Pick one of the above steps (or something different that feels right to you) and commit to giving it a go over the course of a few weeks.
Once you’ve chosen your step, ask yourself a few questions:
Why do I want to make this change?
What will the benefits be, and what could be the drawbacks?
What might sabotage me?
Can I do anything about this now to support myself to reach my goal?
Write a few notes and keep it somewhere you can come back to regularly when you need a boost of motivation. It will help you maintain a focused mindset when things feel tougher.
If you’re looking for support to get into a healthy eating routine and improve your energy levels, to feel more productive at work and really enjoy your downtime, find out more about my 3-Month Health Coaching Programme.