Every day, we make choices about the food we eat and the lifestyle we lead. We can make choices for ourselves and our families that make a real difference to our ability to remain healthy and active now and enjoy life to its fullest in the future.
The food you eat can affect your health and your risk for certain diseases. To eat healthier food, you may need to change some of your daily habits.
You don’t however, always need to make huge changes to eat healthier. Moreover, you don’t have to change your habits all at the same time. It’s best to set small goals and get constant mini ‘wins’ and change your habits a little bit at a time. Over time, small changes can make a big difference in your health.
Pay attention to your food
Mindful eating is the act of paying more attention to how you eat, being more present to make better food choices. If you get down to mindful eating, you will have an easier time creating new habits. Stop eating in front of the TV or computer, put down all distractions, and actually pay attention to what you’re putting on your plate and in your mouth. You’ll feel more satisfied, stop eating when you’re truly full, and ultimately make healthier choices.
Plan your healthy shopping
It’s too easy to eat takeaway if there’s nothing in the fridge or put together something naughty when it’s filled with unhealthy foods. But if your fridge and pantry are stocked with healthy options you’ll be able to make better choices when you’re hungry.
The secret to healthy shopping is to plan ahead. Also, never shop when hungry/on an empty stomach.
Try this: Set aside a regular time to create a shopping list based on healthy options for each of your meals and snacks during the week, and then set aside a regular time to shop.
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Eat healthy unprocessed food
Many of the packaged foods we buy today are aimed at convenience and involve minimum preparation time on our part – but they’re not healthy. They often contain high amounts of preservatives, man-made colourings and other added chemicals, which can cause harm when eaten with enough quantity. Packaged foods tend to be higher in fat, salt and sugar than foods cooked from scratch while they also lack nutrients and fibre. Get into the habit of preparing meals from unprocessed foods and you will reap the health benefits. This means cooking with fresh vegetables, millets and eating plenty of fruit, nuts and legumes. Meat?
Change to healthy cooking methods
The more you “do” to your food, the less it does for you. So avoid things like deep-frying, which drenches your food in unnecessary calories, and boiling vegetables until they’re drained of colour, as this will sap The nutrients out of them.
Grill or barbecue your vegetables.
Stir-fry vegetables, using just a little olive oil or a light spray of cooking oil.
Steam vegetables until they’re lightly crunchy.
Use herbs, spices and ground pepper instead of salt.
Use balsamic vinegar or lemon juice instead of salad dressing.
Make your own sauces rather than using bottled or sachet versions – for example, using fresh tomatoes as your base combined with herbs and spices.
Eat healthy portion size
In today’s supersized world, it can be hard to know what a healthy portion looks like. All the advertising we see seems to be aimed at encouraging us to eat and drink a lot. Plate sizes in restaurants get bigger and bigger, as do the servings themselves. So it’s no wonder that many of us consume more than we need on a daily basis, as our eating habits have changed without us even realising it.
Try this: Imagine a plate on the table in front of you. For the ideal lunch, a quarter of the plate would be taken up by lean protein, another quarter would be filled with low-GI or whole-grain carbs, and the remaining half would be filled with salad or vegetables. For dinner, eat a little less than at lunch.
Water: Nature’s healthy drink
Water is essential for life – it’s required for digestion, absorption and transportation of nutrients, for the elimination of waste and to regulate body temperature. A healthy amount for men to drink is 2.6 litres per day and women should have 2.1 litres (or 8 to 10 cups per day).
Try this: Ditch sugar-packed soft drinks. Instead, buy yourself an aluminium drink bottle and keep it on hand, filled with water, to sip on all day. Did you know that just adding ingredients to your water can be the key on how to improve your digestion which is great not only for your body but also your mind? Like lemon wedges or cucumber slices.
Learn to cook
The best way to know what’s in your food? By making it yourself. You can also better control your portion sizes- If you serve yourself, you tend to eat less. As a chef, my suggestion is by learning and developing your cooking or culinary skills, you can actually be the long term, as it improves your eating habits, ingredients choice, various cooking styles, knowledge of food nutrition /adulteration etc.
Eat slower – link to your mindful eating earlier
“Pause before taking a bite, and chew slowly and intentionally,” This will help you bring your focus back to the task at hand (eating) and keep you from mindlessly consuming more than your body really wants or needs.
Eat veggies first
I try to get my clients to start with salad or veggies when they sit down for lunch or dinner and then dig into the rest. Taking the time to chew lettuce and veggies pulls you into the moment so you’re not mindlessly eating. Plus, it’s always a good idea to fill up on the most nutritious foods first.
Last but not least -fruits
Every fruit and vegetable has different colours based on the different minerals, vitamins, phytochemicals, and antioxidants it contains. The more colours you paint your plate with, the more variation you’re getting nutrient-wise. Plus, it keeps things interesting so you don’t get bored.
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