As a Dietitian I am often asked “is this what I should be eating?” by both my patients and many friends and acquaintances. And what I generally say is “it depends on what you are trying to achieve”.

Food is Fuel for your body. Think of your body as a car. When we put fuel into our cars we pay close attention to the manufacturer’s instructions. We don’t let our cars get too low in fuel and if we do the red light comes on and eventually our car will stop. And if we put the wrong fuel in our cars then we really are in trouble!

So when it comes to our diet – the food (or fuel) we put in our body – why do we ignore our bodies warning signs? Why do we eat when we aren’t hungry? Why, when we are trying to lose weight, do we ignore our bodies hunger cues? Why, if we have been advised to avoid certain foods for health reasons, do we want those foods more? Most of this comes down to our thoughts, our beliefs and our behaviours.

Dietitians work with each person and tailor nutritional advice to their needs, their lifestyle and what is realistic for them. There is certainly no one diet that is perfect for everyone.

As it’s the New Year there are lots of ‘diets’ out there to help you lose weight or become a healthier you in 2019. If you would like to make some changes to your diet to improve your health I would recommend small, specific and sustainable changes, here are my 5 top tips:

1. Reduce sugar gradually – don’t go from 2 teaspoons in your cup of tea to none! Try stepping down to 1 ½ then 1 and see how you go. Some people find swapping to a sweetener makes the process a bit easier.

2. Increase fruit and vegetables – we all know fruit and vegetables are a healthy choice but simply saying “I need to eat more” will not make you do it. Think about when e.g. putting some fruit on your breakfast cereal in the morning or taking a piece of fruit to eat as a snack mid-morning.

3. Drink less alcohol – alcohol in moderation can be part of healthy balanced diet. Alcohol contains calories and so for those people trying to lose weight cutting down on alcohol is a good idea. Why not try saving it for the weekends as a good starting point.

4. Eat Mindfully – turn off the television and take your time to taste and appreciate your food. Try sitting at a table if you can and enjoying a meal with your family. It is known that those people who eat more slowly eat less food overall.

5. Put together a meal plan and shopping list for the week – this is certainly not an easy task but it is one worth doing to help you and your household enjoy home cooked meals and save a few pennies along the way too!

I hope these suggestions will help improve the quality of the food you are eating which with time can help improve the way you feel both inside and out, and perhaps help with some weight loss too.