Bowl of salad

4 Tips on How to Start a Healthy Diet and Stick to it

When it comes to proving that fancy food can be good for you, few have as much experience in healthy yet opulent dining as Richard Kerrigan. From his time as a teen working at Buckingham Palace, to the kitchens of Europe’s aristocracy, to his current role as one of Australia’s foremost personal trainers and nutrition coaches, Kerrigan has spent his entire career finding ways to make delicious and healthy food a cornerstone of a great health plan, as opposed to its antithesis.

Here’s Richard’s best advice on how to maintain a healthy diet without sacrificing flavour and overall enjoyment.

With so many different diets out there, it can be a minefield knowing which is the best one to choose. In my opinion, there is no such thing as the perfect diet, rather the one that works best for you. 

Choose a diet that fits into your lifestyle and that you can sustainable long-term, too much cutting back or restricting yourself from certain foods will only end in disaster. Building a healthy relationship with food is a far better way to live. 

To have the most success, it’s important to identify what you are fueling your body for. Is it weight-loss, weight gain or maintenance or for an endurance event? 

If you are just starting out and looking to improve your health then keep it simple and begin by building your plate with a good quality source of protein for rebuilding muscle, some wholegrain fibrous carbohydrates for energy, along with a healthy source of fat to help keep you full. 

A few simple steps you can take to ensure you are doing all you can to give your body the best chance to perform at an optimal level include:

1. Eat for your goal

If you’re looking to lose weight or burn body fat you need to be in a calorie deficit, likewise, if you’re looking to put on a little bit of weight you need to be in a calorie surplus. 

2. Cook your own food

Cooking your own food allows you to control what goes into it, limiting the amount of salt, sugar and highly processed ingredients. 

3. Add before removing

Before cutting out all the foods you overindulge in try adding some nutrient-dense foods first like colourful vegetables, whole grains and fibrous fruits. The chances are the processed foods will start to disappear naturally anyway. 

4. Fill up on your greens first

You really can’t eat enough of the superfoods such as spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and peas, they are packed with calcium and vitamin C and are generally pretty low in calories.

Other things to remember

Eating properly is fundamental not only for good physical health but also for mental health and overall wellbeing. Food should make you feel good, not depressed or guilty because you’ve eaten the wrong thing. Allow yourself to have the treats just make sure they’re in moderation, and if you do find yourself having a big weekend where you have overindulged, don’t panic just hit the reset button and get back into your routine as soon as you can. You won’t get results from a few ‘good days’ of eating likewise you won’t lose your results from a few ‘bad days’ so relax!

One of the simplest pieces of advice I can give above all else is to ‘just eat real food’, and you really can’t go wrong. 

Play the long game of health and choose exercises that will make you fit for life rather than for aesthetic reasons or because everyone else is doing it. Just like food, it’s important to find something you enjoy doing, that makes you feel good and that you can sustain. 

Don’t forget to include some lower intensity sessions where you just take a little time out for yourself, which will really help strengthen your mental health. Little and often here is my advice. Listening to a podcast and going for a walk or getting in the ocean for a swim are my favourite forms of zone out activities. I like to follow a ‘prevention is better than cure approach’ when looking after my mental health.   

Remember a healthy lifestyle is a combination of food, exercise and mindset combined!

Richard Kerrigan is a Sydney-based chef, nutrition coach and personal trainer, who has worked at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle for the British Royal Family, all over Europe, and now calls Australia home. You can find out more about his work here, or on his Instagram