Eating more healthily isn’t necessarily about losing weight, although that can be a nice by-product, it’s about nourishing your body and giving yourself the best chance possible to ward off ill-health. Therefore, when you decide to overhaul your diet don’t think of it as a punishing regime, instead anticipate the extra vitally it’s going to bring into your life and welcome how great it’s going to make you feel.
Even small changes add up over time, so while you don’t need to tackle everything in this list at once, adding in one new approach every few weeks, will have you looking and feeling like a new person by the end of the year.
Get Back To Basics
You don’t need to be a whizz in the kitchen, but creating even simple meals from scratch will be a big step forward. Processed and ready-meals include more fat, salt and sugar than you would add yourself whilst cooking. Plus, many of them have preservatives, flavorings and additives in the ingredient list that your body would be better off without.
Preparing your own meals means the ingredients will be fresh and you will know exactly what is going in to every meal. A bonus is that cooking from scratch is a much cheaper option than buying ready-made meals.
When it comes to eating, it really is the slower the better. Take a leaf out of the book of those who champion mindful eating and enjoy every bite. When you slow down you taste everything more acutely; your digestion works better; and your stomach has time to signify that you are getting full so you stop before the point of overeating.
A meal is something to be savored, so whenever possible sit down at a table to enjoy your breakfast, lunch or dinner and don’t be distracted by the TV or a book. Instead chat to those around you, or if you are alone really focus on enjoying your food. It’s only a short time out of your day so make it a stress-free break for you.
Start the Day Right
Growing up we have all been told by our parents that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it’s definitely true. Breakfast starts up your metabolism after a night of fasting and can be a valuable source of nutrients. It also gives you the energy and alertness to perform well during your working day and leisure time.
Choose a healthy breakfast which includes protein as this will keep you full for longer without having to resort to sugary snacks mid-morning.
Make Easy Switches
One of the easiest ways to cut calories is to make ingredient switches. No I’m not talking about half fat versions of products, as those are often packed full of sugar, I’m talking about sneaking in more vegetables where carbs would have featured more heavily previously.
A great way to do this is to replace the pasta in meals with spiralized ‘spaghetti’ made from zucchini, butternut squash, carrot or your own favorite vegetable. Not only are you increasing your nutrient intake but the meal overall will be much lower in calories.
Up Your Antioxidants
We all know to eat at least 5 servings of fruit or vegetables per day; but sometimes this is harder than we expect it to be. A perfect way to increase your intake, along with all those wonderful antioxidants which keep you healthy, is to drink instead of eat fresh produce. Juices and smoothies are healthy and delicious and you only have to browse your local bookstore to marvel at the range of recipe books on display.
Create a base of green vegetables in your juice, which is then sweetened with carrot or fruit, as this provides the perfect balance. Low on sugar and high in vitamins and minerals you can even take your creation and head out the door on those days when work comes first.
Consume Less Oil
We have become very afraid of fat in our diets, whereas in fact good omega rich oils are a vital component of our nutritional intake. The problem arises when we cook too frequently in oils and at very high temperatures.
There’s no denying though that fried food is tasty and that said there’s no need to deprive yourself completely. Air fryers are a great alternative to deep frying as they use up to 80% less oil, working instead by circulating super-hot air to cook the food. Instead of heading to the local fast food restaurant, cook up your favorite treats at home which will be both healthier and cheaper than take-out.
Don’t Stop Partying
On the topic of water one of the most important steps you can take for your health is to drink enough H2O. Water is vital for many processes in the body including digestion. It will also make you feel fuller so you are less likely to turn to unhealthy snacks. Plus, even being slightly dehydrated can make you feel tired and lethargic and therefore less likely to get out there and stay active.
Depending what the climate is like, plus how active you are, it’s advised that we should drink between 1 to 2 liters per day, spaced out at regular intervals. If you really aren’t keen on the tastelessness of water then flavor it with some lemon, mint or cucumber. If you prepare a jug of water in the morning you can head to the refrigerator whenever you get thirsty.
Eating healthily really can be a joy rather than a chore. Delicious, healthy meals are just a recipe away and cooking can become a relaxing part of your day when you de-stress after work. What’s more, after making these changes to your diet you should start to feel more energized and perhaps have to deal less often with some of those digestive issues which niggle when we are eating a diet which is less than ideal. Enjoy your path to better health and remember to savor every bite along the way.