We all talk about it, but what exactly is ‘healthy eating’? I cringe when I hear the words ‘I’m going on a diet’ because what this normally means is that the ‘diet’ has a start and finish; people are either on a diet, or off it. This is why ‘diets’ don’t work in the long-term and why some people simply ‘yo yo’ with their weight over the years.
Instead of putting pressure on yourself trying to stick to a ridged ‘diet’, why not try these simple steps to a healthier lifestyle and ultimately healthier you. It’s all about making small changes that you are willing to keep up all year round. After all, if we’re going to stick to the ‘80:20 rule’ then we may as well get the 80% bit right so we can enjoy the other 20%!
Simple Healthy Eating Tips…
1) Have Regular Meals
Having regular meals will help to sustain energy levels, blood sugar levels and concentration levels throughout your day. They will also help to control hunger levels, leaving you more in control over food choices later on. If you’re not a fan of breakfast try having some fruit and yoghurt mid morning; it’s a way of getting in one of your 5 a day as well as some protein before the vending machine starts calling to you!
2) Drink Plenty of Water
The body is clever, but it’s not that clever. Unfortunately, hunger and thirst can get ‘confused’ so when we are feeling hunger it may be because we are dehydrated. Keep hydrated with at least 6-8 x 200ml glasses (1.2-1.6 L) of fluid a day in order to keep your hunger and thirst signals in check. A good tip it to keep a 500ml bottle of water with you and to keep sipping it throughout the day – you should be able to get through 3-4 of these a day (build up to this if possible).
3) Include Fruit, Salad or Vegetables at every Meal
Fruits and vegetables are fantastic as they are highly nutritious as well being low in calories. To get the recommended 5 x 80g serving a day you could have fruit with your breakfast (banana on porridge), salad with your lunch (in a sandwich) and then two portions of vegetables (they can be frozen!) with your evening meal or in a stir-fry. Snacking on fresh or dried fruit is another good way to increase intake, or having vegetable crudités with hummus/salsa. Yum.
4) Don’t be afraid of Carbs
Your main meals should include a fist-sized serving or wholegrain or low GI (slow releasing) starchy carbohydrates such as granary bread, wholemeal pasta, basmati rice, oats or sweet potatoes. These foods are not only a good source of energy but contain fibre, calcium, iron and B vitamins. Choosing wholegrain carbohydrates (as opposed to the white varieties) will also help you to feel fuller for longer (if you really can’t stomach wholemeal bread why not try the 50:50 or Best of Both varieties?). For more information about carbohydrates check out [this] blog post.
5) Cut down on Trans Fat and replace it with Monounsaturated Fats.
Trans fats are found in processed or fried foods and on the label the ingredients list may include ‘hydrogenated vegetable oil’ – these are the worst types of fats for your diet and should be eliminated. You should replace trans fats with healthy monounsaturated fats found in olive oil, rapeseed oil, avocados, nuts and seeds.
So there you have it, my top 5 tips on how to get started with healthy eating.. it’s not rocket science but it is about putting knowledge into practice and developing healthy eating habits for the future.
A quick word on Salt & Alcohol – try to cut down on these. The majority of salt that we eat is found in foods such as crisps, bacon, soups and ready meals; try to eat these foods in moderation as well as cutting down on the salt added in cooking or at the table; your taste buds will adapt I assure you! Aim to have at least two alcohol free days a week and avoid binge drinking (saving up your daily unit allowances). Alcohol is extremely high in calories.. for example a 175ml glass of wine is the equivalent to a packet of crisps, a pint of beer is the equivalent of a sausage roll and 25ml of spirit is the equivalent to a biscuit or 25ml of cream. If you do drink alcohol alternate with a non-alcohol drink to keep you hydrated (and full too!).