The British Heart Foundation By Published:

December is often a month of over indulging, particularly on food and alcohol, and so people often ask how they can cut back on these in the New Year. It is therefore not surprising that when surveying our patients about their health goals for 2021, ‘losing weight’ was the most popular answer, with 28% of people choosing this as one of their health goals for this year. So to help people who want to cut back on unhealthy foods and alcohol, we’re sharing with you some helpful advice from our partner, the British Heart Foundation on the best ways to achieve this. 

Dietician, Victoria Taylor: “Many people feel this way after the festive period, so January tends to be the month of extreme diets and quick fixes. However, making small changes to your diet is a more sustainable approach that will lead to longer-lasting results and ensure you don’t miss out on essential nutrients.

Even if you’re trying to eat less, it’s important that your diet is balanced and contains plenty of fruits, vegetables, wholegrain bread, pasta and rice, and potatoes. Some low-fat milk and dairy foods, lean meat, fish, eggs and beans are also important parts of a healthy diet.

“If you swap alcoholic for non-alcoholic drinks, watch out for sugar content”

Small amounts of high-fat and sugary foods and drinks are still fine too, but this will probably be where you need to cut back, especially after Christmas overindulgence.

Where possible, choose foods that are lower in saturated fat, salt and sugar. Swapping red meat for fish or leaner meats such as chicken and turkey will lower your saturated fat and energy intake. Swapping high-energy snacks for fruits and vegetables will help you to reach the recommended 5-a-day of fruit and vegetables.

After the Christmas period, many of us aim to cut back on alcohol. Alcohol is high in sugar and calories, and drinking more than the recommended amount can have a harmful effect on your heart and general health.

Total abstinence works for some, but reducing the number of days a week on which you consume alcohol could be a more realistic long term option. If you swap alcoholic for non-alcoholic drinks, watch out for the sugar content – even in fruit juices. You can get sugar-free versions of squashes and fizzy drinks to cut calories, but water is the best option. Make it more appealing with a slice of cucumber or lemon, a sprig of mint or some ice cubes.

Keeping a diary of all the foods and drinks you consume each day will make you aware of what you are eating and will help identify where changes can be made.

Planning your meals and snacks in advance and writing lists before you go food shopping will help keep you focused on eating healthily, while saving time and money. Eating at regular meal times will help you to adopt good habits and avoid extra snacks too.”

If you’re considering a vegan diet or would like to try this lifestyle permanently, you can find more information from the British Heart Foundation here.

Making small swaps and gradually changing your eating and drinking behaviours allows you to adopt this lifestyle much easier than completely removing all unhealthy foods and alcohol from your diet in one go. This will ultimately provide you with the best chance to succeed and sustain these healthy changes to your diet and lifestyle.  Keep these changes up and the positive effects should give you even more motivation to continue with them.

Content originally posted on the British Heart Foundation website, full information can be viewed here.