So you’ve made your resolutions and penned down all your goals for the year, but how do you ensure that you are able to sustain these until the end of the year and beyond?

The goal of improving your diet and living a healthy life is very popular, but can be a tricky one to maintain over a long period of time. So we spoke to Rosanne Lombard, a registered dietician at Nutritional Solutions, about the different ways you can implement and sustain a healthy lifestyle.

READ MORE: This is why ‘comfort eating’ is a bad idea for your mental health

Take note of our five suggestions and Rosanne’s tips below:

1. Limit your salt intake

Salt is not your friend. Managing the amount of salt in your foods is not only beneficial, but very important too, as consuming a lot of salt can increase your blood pressure (hypertension). 

“A diet high in salt can also worsen existing hypertension. Therefore, an effort should be made to reduce the amount of salt that we cook with, add to foods and the salt found in convenience foods. 

“One should be limiting salt intake to 5g per day per person, which is approximately one level teaspoon of salt,” says Rosanne.

2. Have healthy filling meals

To assist binge eating, it might be useful to make your healthy meals filling in order to avoid getting tempted by convenience food, which tends to be unhealthy. 

Rosanne says vegetables are a great food to bulk up on in the diet and adding proteins to your meal can also help with satiety (that feeling of satisfaction that you feel after a meal) to keep you full until the next meal.

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“Vegetables are sources of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and importantly, fibre. Fibre is essential for gut health, controlled blood sugar levels and adding bulk to a meal. Vegetables are low in kilojoules as well, this means that you could eat a lot of vegetables but it wouldn’t have a significant impact on your energy intake,” adds Rosanne.

Examples of great vegetables are lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, broccoli, carrots, peppers, mushrooms, cauliflower and baby spinach among others. 

Lean protein sources you can aim to include in your diet include grilled fish, legumes or skinlesss chicken.

3. Cook your own food 

Cooking at home helps with healthy eating because you can never be too sure what is included in takeout meals.  

Rosanne says, “When one buys or eats from restaurants and stores there is often added sugar, salts and unhealthy fats that are in the meals in order to add flavour or for preserving of foods. At home you are able to have better control of the ingredients that you choose, as well as more portion control of what you are eating.”

READ MORE: Healthy smoothie recipes to try out

Tips from Rosanne:

• Taste food before you add salt.

• Use of fresh herbs, spices and seasoning instead of stock cubes or soup powders.

• Get creative with ingredients (healthy doesn’t need to be boring).

• Try to eat the rainbow to increase your variety of nutrients that you are exposed to. The more colour on the plate, the better (especially in terms of vegetables).

• A simple guideline when cooking with oil is one teaspoon of olive oil added to the pan per person that you are cooking for.

• Add plenty of vegetables to dishes. For example when cooking with mince, add onions, mushrooms, grated carrots, frozen peas and baby spinach to increase the nutrient profile of the meal.

4. Keep healthy snacks in close proximity

When hunger strikes it’s common to reach for whatever is convenient, so if you have healthy snacks around, chances are you have that rather than travelling or cooking something less healthy.

Examples of healthy snacks to keep around the house includes popcorn kernels, biltong sticks, seasonal fruits, reduced fat hummus (homemade is even better), vegetable sticks, plain yoghurt (low fat/fat free cottage cheese). 

READ MORE: A local dietician’s guide to healthy eating for diabetics

“Making at home is often better (as mentioned earlier) but these days some shops do sell hummus and veggie sticks in snack-sized containers. Fresh fruit is also often available at stores so you could opt for those. 

“Bars and energy/date balls can often have healthy ingredients, but not often in portion-controlled amounts, therefore eating what seems like a small snack can have more kilojoules that are necessary,” says Rosanne. 

5. As usual, drink plenty of water

Drinking enough water is one of the most emphasised aspects of healthy living, it’s really a given at this point. 

Rosanne gives the following rough guideline for healthy consumption of water: for every 10kgs of body weight that you weigh you should be consuming 250ml of water, for example if you weigh 80kg you should be consuming 2L of water per day (more if exercising). 

Rosanne says, “some fruit does contain more water than other fruits and is healthy for you, but drinking fresh water is a better option than relying on the water content in fruit to meet your daily water target.”

Have you tried any health hacks that have worked for you? Chat to us here.

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