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With 2020 behind us, it seems the whole country – if not the world – is unified in wanting a fresh start. For many of us, the arrival of a New Year is the motivation we need to make positive lifestyle changes, whether that’s getting fitter, eating healthier or shedding some pounds. Our Executive Head Chef Paul O'Brien provides some ideas for the months ahead.

About Paul O'Brien

Paul is from a Michelin-starred restaurant background and joined The London Clinic in 2017. As Executive Head Chef, he listens to patients' requirements, taking into account dietary needs while working closely with our dietitians to perfect the ideal menu for recovery.
View Paul O'Brien’s full profile

With the UK plunged into another lockdown, it seems unrealistic to burden ourselves with the same resolutions of yesteryear.

After all, we have no access to gyms, we’re limited to one session of exercise outside per day, not to mention the damage the pandemic is doing to our mental health and sense of self. That’s why I’d argue that this January is about subtle changes – and making sure we reward ourselves for every victory, however modest!

Here, I share some ideas…

New doesn’t mean complicated

Working as Executive Head Chef at The London Clinic is an incredibly creative, inventive role – with even the simplest ingredients you can whip up a real masterpiece. 

Often, people think trying different types of cooking or cuisines will end up being very complicated, but that couldn’t be further from the case. What’s more, cooking your own fresh food can mean much healthier meals on the table, with less sugar, fat and salt than you’d find in foods ready prepared.

Take our Sunday Brunches, for example. Throughout November and December, every Sunday morning our kitchen hosted live virtual cook-alongs for our staff and their families. The idea behind this was to engage with our people at home while also showing that delicious, healthy food needn’t be difficult. 

You can usually find the ingredients you need in your local stores, whether you’re cooking up chicken breast with salmon and avocado, miso hake, or orange and cardamom crème brûlée.

Our teams loved trying out new things – so I implore you to get googling, flick through those recipe books, and try out some new dishes this January!

Involve your community

Whatever your goal is, involving your family, friends and even your colleague in your journey can be very motivating.

For me, it was about monitoring more closely what I was eating. From past experiences, I knew that January is a demotivating time for counting calories – the month is grey enough as it is!

Instead, in the six weeks leading up to Christmas, I conducted an experiment whereby I looped in our Head of Hotel Services and kept them informed week-by-week of how my mission was going.

I confessed to being bored at the local food store passing by the cake and biscuit aisle with sugary treats all waving at me, while the fizzy drinks were whispering to just add alcohol.

But I also shared the gains of better sleep and mood, money saved, enjoying cooking healthy meals for the family, and even a bonus 15kg weight loss!

As well as keeping me on track and accountable, involving a friend meant that I had someone to share my achievements with – and I might even have inspired their own journey.

Shop local

Now we have transitioned into 2021 – and out of the EU – we must prepare ourselves for both some positive and worrying trends emerging over the coming months when it comes to fresh produce.

Needless to say, British famers and our UK fisheries have a lot to think about, not helped by the new lockdown and losing EU subsidies. Meanwhile, we will see a price increase in produce like tropical fruit, with a potential reduction of quality.

Therefore, for shoppers like us we have to focus on the opportunities – now is the right time to support your local farm shops and growers.

Whether you are a family shopping on a budget or a big organisation like The London Clinic, sharing this standpoint will ensure we are supporting and securing the futures of workers within our food industry.

At The London Clinic, we only use suppliers that share our food vision. We are committed to responsibly sourcing some of the best market-fresh produce available, while maintaining UK and international regulatory guidelines. 

We insist on the highest accreditation and we maintain a close working relationship with our suppliers. The end result is that we serve the finest ingredients (and we’re proud to say that the evidence is there with our patient and customer feedback).

Ultimately, this January, rather than being really hard on ourselves, it’s about taking a step back and seeing where subtle changes can lead to big gains. 

With the pandemic and Brexit, there’s a bumpy road ahead. The best thing we can do is be kind to ourselves.

Further information

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Digestive Health

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