New study explores the pressures of healthy eating in January leading to annual ditching of diets

Almost one third (30 per cent) of people in Scotland confess to having both tried and failed healthy eating plans time and again at the beginning of each year and 49 per cent of people are putting pressure on themselves to battle the bulge left by Christmas calories, according to new research.

With people in Scotland having pledged to be healthier this January – one quarter (25 per cent) concentrating on eating more healthily and just over one quarter (26 per cent) of people committing to being more active – it’s clear to see the public start off the year with strong intentions.

However, often the resolutions are doomed to fail as almost 19% believe healthy foods don’t taste as good as less healthy foods and one in ten (10 per cent) eat foods they don’t enjoy in a quest to stick to their health kick.

The findings in a poll of 2,000 people, from the Potatoes: More Than A Bit On The Side campaign, reveal that individuals putting the pressure on themselves, are in fact not helping themselves.

Although one third (33 per cent) of people in Scotland understand that they require all food groups to live a healthy lifestyle, nearly one quarter (23 per cent) of them are cutting out particular foods that they believe will help them shift the extra pounds and be healthier.

Sugar is the number one food group many people (22 per cent) from Scotland decided to sacrifice this January, followed by booze (19 per cent), fats (14 per cent) and 6 per cent committed to cutting out carbs. Instead, replacement foods include spinach and kale as those in Scotland make their annual flock to ‘green foods’ with 19 per cent believing these to be better for them than other food types.

Respected dietician, Sian Porter, comments: “People deep down know what makes sense, but this doesn’t stop many setting themselves up to fail year after year. January, like Monday morning, is a time people tell themselves that being healthy will be easier as it’s a fresh start, and because of this try to do everything at once. For example, people try to eat less, change what, when and how they eat, plan to exercise more, give up alcohol, go to bed earlier, declutter their homes, get their finances in order, the list is endless – is it any wonder they fail?

“When unrealistic New Year resolutions meets the reality of restriction and deprivation that leads to cravings, guilt and disappointment, they pack it in for another year or turn to another quick fix to solve the problem. Basically, if you do things the same, you’re going to get the same result.

“Instead, people should take control and aim for a healthier balanced diet across 12 months, with small sustainable changes, regular physical activity and targets spread over a realistic time period, rather than following the fads.

“For example, people should aim to eat a variety of foods from all the main food groups (plenty of fruit and veg, potatoes with skins, wholegrain bread, rice, pasta and other wholegrain starchy foods, some meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein like nuts and seeds and some milk and dairy foods), choose the healthiest foods in those groups and eat the right amount of them. It is great that so many people have an ambition to be healthier – we need to support each other to do it and avoid the common failures.”

Worryingly, 8 per cent of people in Scotland admitted to skipping meals as part of a January detox and 3 per cent replace a meal with a smoothie, juice or shake, as part of their healthy eating resolutions.

The Public Health England’s ‘Eat Well’ plate* recommends plenty of starchy carbohydrates and fruit and vegetables, along with smaller amounts of protein, and dairy, in order to maintain a healthy, balanced diet – further highlighting the dangers of cutting out whole food groups.

Kate Cox, Marketing Manager from AHDB Potatoes, said: “The report shows us that cutting out foods is leading to dieting failures in Scotland and instead, we need to balance our daily meals. Potatoes, that are fat-free, gluten-free and a great source of nutrition, could be the answer to our January eating woes. Cooked in the right way and with the right ingredients, they can be a quick and healthy option to help people succeed with more sensible eating plans this year.”

• For more information on the campaign and lots of tasty recipe ideas visit: www.lovepotatoes.co.uk / www.potato.ie.

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