The clocks are about to change, the days become shorter and the dark evenings longer! The warming soups and stews are cooking and the puddings with custard serve to make us feel warm and provide the ultimate comfort. Here we discuss some top tips to help you eat well and stay well during this Autumn.
It’s boring but ‘balance’ is the name of the game. It’s not a time to be starting restrictive diets that eliminate entire food groups. This just leaves us feeling hungry and deprived and can set up negative thought patterns and behaviours that can lead to overeating. Foods should not be labelled ‘good’ or ‘bad’! Nourishing yourself properly with regular meals that provide complex, wholegrain carbohydrates such as potatoes, bread, rice, pasta, and oats to sustain energy levels throughout the day; a protein source such as meat, fish, beans or pulses, plenty of fruit, salad or vegetables and a dairy source will give a good balance of nutrients to support your overall health. Snacks are allowed but the key is to plan them! Unplanned snacking can result from skipping meals and over-restrictive diets and then the foods chosen are often high in fat and sugar and over consumed. This can cause feelings of guilt and fuels a negative thought process impacting on our relationship with food. Build the foods you love into your diet and enjoy them in moderation and guilt free.
The Autumn months can see an increase in depression and if you already struggle with depression it can worsen symptoms. Eating well when you are struggling mentally can be extremely difficult. Feelings of guilt and shame if you’re unable to prepare meals will make things worse so it’s important to show yourself compassion and kindness during these times. Planning ahead for this by having good store cupboard and freezer supplies can help you grab a healthy snack or meal when the going gets tough.
Food is a very useful way to interact with others and help keep a good relationship with food. If you are struggling with depression the thought of socialising can be very difficult but those cosy Autumn evenings can be the perfect time to socialise with friends and family over a meal and a drink, or meeting a friend for lunch can boost your mood on a gloomy day. Missing a friend’s party because you’re too anxious will always be worse for your health than any food you would have eaten. Food is so much more than just nutrients!
Colder days mean we don’t feel as thirsty and can often forget to drink. Dehydration can leave us feeling tired, sluggish, irritable and light-headed. Remember to drink regularly, at least 6-8 glasses, throughout the day and more if you’re exercising.
We all know exercise is good for us but fitting it in when the days are short can be challenging. Every little helps! It is recommended that adults should have a mix of aerobic and strength based exercise every week (see https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/ for actual guidelines). The benefits of physical activity are cumulative so if you aren’t meeting current guidelines then build up gradually in 10-15 minute blocks. It’ll boost your physical and mental wellbeing.
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