7 nutrition hacks that work immediately

We all know we should eat healthily. In fact, a study conducted in 2016 found that 72% of UK shoppers are committed to buying healthy food, with almost half willing to spend extra on organic options [1].

And yet, other studies show a slightly more worrying trend. According to the latest NHS figures, 26% of all UK adults are obese. What’s more, obesity is implicated in over 600,000 hospital admissions each year [2].

Of course, there’s far more to our health than what we weigh. But these figures do provide some insight into our behaviour. Most people have good intentions when it comes to eating well—even spending more when necessary—but we don’t always know how to sustain healthy habits.

A huge part of this is that good nutrition doesn’t lead to overnight changes. There are some instances in which a simple action can yield dramatic results (such as cutting out a food to which we’re sensitive), but generally it’s the slow-and-steady approach that wins the race.

Sometimes, though, we just need to motivation to continue making healthy choices. A lifelong commitment to eating well pays dividends—but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the quick wins.

From chewing to chocolate, here are the nutrition hacks that will have you feeling better immediately. Use their feel-good factor to inspire you to make the next healthy choice!

 

1. Eat slowly

This is simple yet essential. When we eat quickly we a) don’t register how full we are until it’s too late and b) put strain on our digestion because food isn’t properly chewed. Tellingly, one study revealed that eating slowly may be linked to increased weight loss [3].

You don’t have to chew every bite laboriously. Instead, take five deep breaths before you start any meal. Put your cutlery down between each mouthful, and aim to make the meal last 20 minutes. In the short term, your digestion will feel smoother—and in the long term, it could even enhance your figure.

 

2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Another beautifully simple point, but one that’s worth remembering. At just 1% loss of your body’s water volume, you begin to feel thirsty. You can also feel tired, unable to concentrate and prone to irritation [4].

Think of water as liquid energy. When you feel hungry or fatigued, drink a large glass. Most people find they feel instantly better (and not so desperate for a snack after all). To tempt you to keep your body topped up, infuse a jug of water with fresh fruit and keep it within arm’s reach.

 

3. Eat protein for breakfast

If you were to eat healthily for just meal each day, breakfast would be a good choice. This meal has a huge impact on the hormones that regulate appetite, meaning it has a knock-on effect on what and how much you eat for the rest of the day.

The secret to a stable appetite is balancing your blood sugar. Protein is key for this: one study found that those who eat protein for breakfast naturally consume fewer calories during the rest of the day [5]. Opt for protein-rich eggs, Greek yoghurt or chia seeds for breakfast, and you can say goodbye to that ‘hangry’ feeling for good.

 

4. Fill half your plate with vegetables

This is another easy habit that pays off both now and in the future. Like protein, vegetables are especially effective at satisfying hunger. This is in part because of their fibre content, but also because a delicious mound of vegetables satisfies visual cues and makes us feel well-fed [6].

Further to this, the phytonutrients in colourful vegetables have been found to have a host of health benefits. By eating a wide variety on a regular basis, you’ll help to combat inflammation, regulate your hormones and even boost your mood [7].

 

5. Say goodbye to diet drinks

The concept of positive nutrition means which should pay more attention to what we’re adding in, rather than what we’re taking away. However, sometimes there is good reason to reduce or eliminate our intake of certain food products.

The artificial sweetness of diet drinks has been shown to rev appetite. Not only that, but initial studies have also shown that synthetic sweeteners may have a detrimental effect on our gut bacteria [8].

For reduced cravings and enhanced digestion, it’s wise to slowly reduce your diet drink intake. For a fizzy drink that promotes gut health, choose kombucha instead.

 

6. Enjoy dark chocolate

Can chocolate really be healthy? Science seems to think so. Studies show that eating chocolate stimulates the release of endorphins—hormones that quickly make you feel good.

The trick here is to choose chocolate that’s 70% cocoa solids and above. Not only does this type of chocolate contains less health-zapping sugar, but the high concentration of flavanols in the cocoa has also been found to have a positive impact on BMI over time [9].

 

7. Go to bed an hour earlier

While this isn’t strictly a nutrition habit, it can influence the way we eat. Simply put, people who have less sleep crave more high-calorie foods [10].

This means that getting that extra hour of sleep can transform your appetite overnight. Celebrate bedtime with a wind-down routine: enjoy a warm bath, dip into your favourite novel and sip a soothing cup of valerian tea.

After a restorative slumber, you’ll feel motivated to employ the healthy hacks above. These will leave you feel revitalised in the short term—and glowing with health going forward.

 

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