Post-holiday foods to get your healthy lifestyle back on track – Food For Mzansi

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After the holidays, it is normal to feel like you need to get back on track with your health goals. With family gatherings and the abundance of food behind us, it can be challenging to get back into your usual routine. However, we’ve got some tips to help you do this without causing too much stress.

With a little bit of planning and effort, you can make this transition easier on yourself.

Ncumisa Ncetani of Wesbank, Cape Town states she grew up as an only child and had everything she desired, which contributed to her physical round form in addition to family genes.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle

She had an unhealthy lifestyle until Covid-19 and the harsh lockdown in 2020. Ncetani adds that it was difficult for her to maintain consistency initially, but it ultimately worked, and she has never looked back.

“The main thing that keeps me going is the fear of having to fight against heart conditions, which are often linked to eating poorly and are the primary cause of obesity and other related health problems.”

Additionally, she suggests that in the event of deviating from a healthy lifestyle, it is essential to counterbalance it by engaging in exercise.

“Take a skipping rope and aim for at least 200 skips every session, even if it’s only a few times a day,” advises Ncetani.

Picking up the pieces is doable

Kwakhanya Sotomela from Strand near Cape Town believes that maintaining a healthy lifestyle requires discipline, even though it’s not easy. During the December holidays, she sometimes indulges in treats but gets back on track in January.

She focuses on nutritious foods like cabbage, spinach, baby marrow, cucumbers, squash, celery, kale, and green beans, along with lentils, beans, eggs, and meat for a balanced diet. She also sticks to a gym routine.

“Recognising the difference in your body motivates you to keep going once you maintain healthy living,” Sotomela says.

She also mentions that, despite her busy schedule, she tries to exercise at least three times a week.

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Focus on the basics

Pretoria-based dietitian Jason van Heerden says getting back to a healthy lifestyle does not have to be complicated. The key is to focus on the basics: eating plenty of fibre-rich foods, quality proteins, and vegetables.

People often think that detoxes and fasting are the only way to reset their diets, but this is not the case. A balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle can make all the difference, he adds.

“It really comes down to the basics of; have your fruit and vegetables, have your lean proteins, have fibre options, have less sugar in the house. If you have sweets, get healthier alternatives, get back into exercise,” Van Heerden advises.

Take advantage of the great outdoors and go for long walks or jogs on the farm. You do not need a gym when you can use rocks as weights or climb the nearest hill.

There is no shortcut

Hayley Cimring, registered dietitian and nutrition team leader at the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa, says most people embark on detox liquid diets following the holiday season in the hopes of reducing any excess weight gained from indulging in their favourite meals and beverages.

She points out that liquid diets often contain excessive amounts of added sugars, or the amount of fruit used to make them exceeds the recommended daily intake.

“Now there’s no harm in making yourself a smoothie at home should you wish to or are in a rush to work and need a quick breakfast.”

The Heart and Stroke Foundation (HSFSA) supports adhering to a diet which involves including all food groups, throughout the year, allowing one to enjoy healthy foods and not-so-healthy foods, all in moderation.

Cimring recommends two important factors to consider when making a smoothie:

  • Make sure it contains all food groups.
  • See that it does not contain too much sugar (be it normally added sugar or too much fruit).

She also suggests that everyone should attempt to portion their plate according to the ‘plate model,’ which involves:

  • ½ of your plate consists of non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes, cucumber, carrots etc.
  • ¼ of your plate consists of high-fibre starches such as brown rice, whole wheat pasta, sweet potato, and butternut.
  • ¼ of your plate consists of lean protein such as grilled skinless chicken, fish and lean mince.

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