Michael van Straten
Michael van Straten

Now Is The Best Time To Change Some Bad Habits

Don’t be angry with yourself if all those good intentions that seemed great ideas on New Year’s Eve have fallen by the wayside. Worrying about them will only lower your self-esteem by making you feel a failure.

New Year’s Day has never been the ideal time to make drastic changes to your way of but if you make just one resolution now, and stick to it, by February 14 you can look in the mirror and say; “ I like myself more than I did when I started.”

Make a plan, stick to it and Valentine’s Day will be the best you’ve ever had. Here are a few ideas.


Starting this minute, simply change your smoking habits. Don’t light up whenever you’re on the phone or you answer the door. Drink less tea and coffee - they just beg for a fag to go with them. Fruit juice, on the other hand, doesn’t.

Stay off the pavements and inside the no smoking places. The aim is to stop you from lighting up out of nothing more than habit.

For some smokers the best method is cold turkey and just stop, for others it’s a gradual reduction. If you smoke 30 cigarettes a day, you need to cut down by ten a day for three days; another 15 for three days and on the seventh day YOU QUIT. Come Valentine’s, you’ll have kisses sweeter than wine.


If you are seriously overweight, this is the time you should resolve to lose weight by V-day. In the three days keep a diary of everything you eat and drink.

Do not change your eating habits and do not cheat - you’ll only be fooling yourself - then look at your consumption.

You won’t believe how much food you’ve tucked away. If you are anything like most of my patients, you will be horrified.

Go through the diary and cross out all those extras which are full of fats and sugar - sweets, biscuits, cakes, crisps, salted nuts and fizzy drinks. Now start on your new regime. Eat a healthy breakfast of porridge, shredded wheat or sugar-free muesli, wholemeal toast, live yoghurt, fresh fruit, a boiled egg or baked beans.

Never skip lunch, and avoid eating your evening meal too late, as you will not use up the calories while asleep.

Potatoes, wholemeal bread, rice, beans and pasta are all good foods. It’s what you put on them that often isn’t.

Stick to vegetable sauces and keep off the creamy ones. Use little butter, or better still use virgin olive oil. Have plenty of fish and chicken but few other meats and avoid all processed meats like sausages, salami, ham, bacon, pate, meat pies, burgers, pasties and Scotch eggs.

After two weeks, have one day a week when you eat only raw vegetables and fresh fruits, and drink at least three pints of water.

For the rest of the time, eat regular small meals rather than one big one.

Make plenty of vegetable soups and take some with you to work in a thermos.

You should aim to lose one kilo – 2 to 3 lb. each week for the next four – six weeks.


No matter how tired you feel at the end of a day’s work, exercise will make you feel better. Start with a 20 minute walk every day, then gradually quicken your stride and increase the time. Get a skipping rope and skip for one minute a day - without stopping!

Try some sport, swimming, tennis, yoga, badminton, squash, ping pong; whatever you like, but darts and snooker do not count! This may all sound like hard work, but it’ll be worth it.


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