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Making Good Habits Routine

By Performance Champion and Nutritionist James Hudson
My colleagues James and Jake have eloquently covered some great tips at the start of this year. If you followed them and set reasonable targets, making incremental changes to your nutrition you will hopefully be seeing the fruits of your labour now as we enter the third month of the year. If, however you plumped for one of the myriad different diets you will have been bombarded with on your social media feed as the new year began, it may be about now when you have well and truly fallen out with the restrictive eating which often accompanies these. Do not panic, you are not alone, there are many people feeling the same.
There is no perfect diet, despite what twitter may tell you. The only diet which works is the one you can stick to, and to achieve a permanent change we need to address both your food choices and your habits which create these choices. Here are three of the habits I have valued the most since hanging up my boots and learning how to combine a ‘real job’ with busy family life and still getting some training done.

Shop with a list
We all know the scenario. The realisation there is nothing in the fridge for dinner, it’s been a long day at work and that trip to the supermarket becomes a wander through the aisles picking up the best of products on offer and those that appeal to our tired hungry brain. The result is a bit like an episode of supermarket sweep with no clear menu at the end! Shopping with a predetermined list has been shown to aid weight loss and be more cost effective1. Planning your meals out through the week reduces the chance of making poor convenient choices and reaching for the phone at dinner time rather than getting in the kitchen.
Get online
An even easier way of removing yourself from temptation in the aisles is doing your shopping online. Using an online shopping platform makes it easier every time you shop as your favourites that make up the bulk of your weekly shop can be accessed quickly. An eight-week long study where participants received nutrition advice and support, but then half of them also had their shopping delivered, revealed some very positive results. Those that received home deliveries reported finding the process much easier than expected, that it reduced impulse purchases, and importantly reduced the number of very high calorie foods in the cupboards at home. The result was a home environment which promoted healthier eating and supported their weight loss goals2. The other win from planning your meals and shopping accordingly is reducing food waste. For those with an environmental conscious it’s another impactful reason to consider this change.
Widen your repertoires
Cooking is the overarching skill which often determines whether someone can execute any nutrition plan. In my work with athletes the time spent teaching basic skills in the kitchen pays dividends especially with our academy players. Don’t be concerned with your first few attempts it is a rapid learning curve and not every plate has to be ‘Instagram worthy’ straight away! Get in there and give it a go. Once you have built some confidence keep exploring new tastes and cuisines. Use the support networks around you whether that is family, friends, or work colleagues to challenge each other. A ‘come dine with me’ style lunch competition can be great fun. 

These skills might not be talking about specific foods but trust me they are habits which will influence your weekly food intake positively. Like anything the first time you do it may require a bit more thought but once you get going, a quick 10-15-minute plan each Sunday evening means a planned shop will arrive at your door. Your bank balance will thank you, and as the evenings keep getting lighter the time you might have spent trawling the supermarket shelves can be spent out doing the activities you enjoy throughout the Spring. Good luck and keep going!

1. Au, N., et al., The cost-effectiveness of shopping to a predetermined grocery list to reduce overweight and obesity. Nutr Diabetes, 2013. 3: p. e77.
2. Gorin, A.A., et al., Home grocery delivery improves the household food environments of behavioural weight loss participants: results of an 8-week pilot study. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act, 2007. 4: p. 58.