Fulfilling New Year health resolutions needn't cost the earth

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
Starting off the new year is usually about making fresh starts. It can also be a time when the bank account is dismal due to the Christmas blowout, says Deanna Copland.

Deanna Copland
Deanna Copland

What can we do to keep the costs down but New Year's resolutions on track? As the most common resolutions are about weight loss and saving money, today Dee Copland will focus on a few options to combat these.

Exercise

Fortunately, the warmer weather is conducive to exercising outdoors. We can get all those metabolic and mental health benefits from a walk in the fresh air, as well as vitamin D exposure rather than needing a gym membership just now.

A range of physical activity is worthwhile, from skipping, beach walks and lifting hand weights, to improve strength and energy expenditure.

Research has discovered that osteocytes in leg bones communicate with the brain to regulate satiety (that satisfied feeling after a meal) and appetite, and thus fat mass, so keeping active is an important aspect for reducing your body's natural ''set-point'' and enhancing fat loss.

Fresh produce

Right now, we are offered an abundance of fresh produce such as corn, capsicum and spectacular Central Otago berries and stone fruit so buying what is in season generally keeps the cost down.

The late frosts in 2018 have meant less cherries and stone fruit is available this year so do cherish what is available.

Carrots are always cheap, so you could cut some into thin sticks and cover with water in a sealed container in the fridge for a healthy snack.

Cold potatoes have resistant starch, so a few boiled potatoes which have been cooled and stored in the fridge on the side of a meal is a cheap and healthy filler. Resistant starch essentially means that your body doesn't break it down. Once the resistant starch arrives in the colon, your good bacteria feeds on the starch, producing something called butyrate which is a short-chain fatty acid that strengthens your brain and your gut. Select greener bananas over ripe ones for this same effect.

There you have it: spuds and bananas are not bad for you like you may have thought - they are both affordable and nutritious.

Vegetables are growing well so it could also be a great time to plant a punnet of lettuces or mesculin leaves to add to fresh salads. You don't need a large space, a wide bucket or trough can be enough and can be useful for moving out of the intense afternoon sun which can turn lettuces bitter.

Healthy grains

Oats are a nourishing breakfast and are very well-priced at around $1.90 for 750g. Look for the whole oats rather than ground instant varieties which can cause blood sugar levels to rise and then plummet leaving you hungry soon after.

If you don't feel like porridge, overnight oats are great in warmer months. Simply pop some oats into a container like a glass Pyrex which has a lid (this is an eco-friendly option), add 1-2 teaspoons of seeds such as sunflower and chia, a sprinkle of ground cinnamon/all spice then stir and cover with a generous amount of almond or coconut milk as the oats will absorb it. Leave in the fridge overnight, and in the morning add half a grated apple/pear or fresh berries and fold through the thick oats and top with dollop of yoghurt to serve.

Can canned drinks

Another money-saving and health-promoting tip is to can the canned/bottled drinks. These are often high in calories, and even diet varieties have now been proven to be detrimental as the artificial sweet taste activates your sweet receptors and encourages insulin to be released. They are also not an eco-friendly option. Stick to water. Your body and the environment will thank you.

Plan ahead

Plan meals around what you do have in your cupboards and do your shopping online.

Click and collect is a great service which means you avoid supermarket temptations. It is also incredibly helpful when you have busy children to manage.

Sleep

Work with the sun to restore healthy sleep patterns. Good quality sleep improves hormonal signalling, metabolic rate and regulates appetite and it costs nothing. Rise early and get into bed early.

The most influential and productive people, including Sir Richard Branson, Barrack Obama and Oprah, are all early risers.

If you struggle to get up to an alarm, try using the five-second rule - if you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must physically move within five seconds or your brain will stop it.

When you feel yourself hesitate before doing something that you know you should do, count 5-4-3-2-1-Go and move towards action.

Mel Robbin says that if you do not act on your instinct to change, you will stay stagnant.

Wishing you a very happy and healthy year.

- The advice contained in this column is not intended to be a substitute for direct, personalised advice from a health professional.

 

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