With so many different diets and contradicting nutritional information in the media, it can be very confusing to decide what food to eat. Should you eat more kale, go organic, is paleo diet the way to go, or is a vegan lifestyle healthier?
Then we have the sugar-free, gluten-free, or fat-free diets craze. But with our busy schedules, it is sometimes easier just to give up and eat whatever is the most convenient.
Well, today I have good news for you: common sense is still your best guide when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle and healthy eating. Unless you are diagnosed with a specific medical condition the basic rules of healthy eating still apply and you don’t need super expensive “superfoods” to be healthy.
A healthy lifestyle is exactly what it says: A way of living to help you be healthier. By living healthy you reduce your risk for certain lifestyle diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers, and much more. Health is more than being a perfect size, losing weight, looking good or not being sick. Health includes physical, mental, and social well-being. A healthy lifestyle should be sustainable in the long term therefore, it is important to be realistic, even making small changes to your current diet can make a big difference in the long run.
1) GENERAL TIPS FOR HEALTHY EATING
- Start your day with breakfast. Do not skip breakfast as it is the most important meal of the day and it helps to start your metabolism after a night of fasting. Choose something healthy and filling to keep you for the morning. Avoid sweetened cereals for breakfast.
- Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day to keep your blood glucose levels stable and for sustainable energy. Eat your breakfast, lunch, and supper and you can even add 2-3 healthy snacks during the day if you like to snack. Do not skip meals. This will lead to overeating later in the day and decrease your metabolism.
- Use a smaller serving dish/ plate to eat your meals out. With our ever-increasing portion sizes, it is easy to overeat even on healthy food. Using a smaller plate is a great way to control your portion sizes and you will still feel satisfied after the meal. This works by tricking your mind to think you are eating a full plate of food.
- Planning, planning, and planning! The truth is we are busy and when you get hungry it is easy to buy something unhealthy. The best way to ensure you sustain a healthy lifestyle is by being prepared and packing meals, snacks, and drinks. Home-made meals are usually much more nutritious than takeaways and you can control the amount of fat added to it.
If you are lazy to read, you can watch this video instead: I share with you how to prepare balanced meals (just click on the video below)
2) EAT PLENTY OF FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
- The recommended intake is 5-7 portions of fruits and vegetables daily. Fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants to keep our bodies healthy. Fresh fruit and vegetables are the perfect snacks as it is low in calories, fat-free, and low in sugar.
If you need help eating more fruits and vegetables you can take a look at my recipe books below to find inspiration.
If you need help to prepare healthy and delicious recipes, look no further..
I have 4 great recipe books to make sure your family enjoy the most delicious meals.
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3) HEALTH FOOD PREPARATION FOR HEALTHY EATING
Healthy ingredients can quickly be turned into an unhealthy meal if you add a lot of fat such as mayonnaise, cream or butter if you deep fry the food or add a lot of sugar to it. When preparing your food rather cook, boil, bake or steam it and stay away from anything that is deep-fried. Try to add as little salt as possible when preparing food, rather cook with herbs.
4) CHOOSE LEAN MEAT
Protein is very important to our bodies, but meat can be high in saturated fat and can increase our risk for chronic diseases. Fish is very beneficial to our bodies as it is rich in omegas and should be eaten as often as possible (recommendation is 3 portions of fatty fish a week) and join the meat-free Monday movement. Remove all visible fat from meat before cooking and remove the skin of a chicken before cooking or rather buy lean meat. Limit red meat to 3 portions per week. Do not eat processed meat like bacon, ham, and sausages, as it is very high in saturated fats.
5) CHOOSE WHOLE GRAIN CARBOHYDRATES
Carbs are needed in the body to provide energy and fiber. You don’t need to avoid all carbs, but it is best to limit refined carbs such as cakes, muffins, and cookies. Choose brown or high fiber starch instead of white and refined starch, brown rice or whole-grain bread will be better options than white bread and rice. Reduce your starch sizes – make only a quarter of the plate starchy food or limit it to a fist size of rice/ porridge/pasta. Choose carbs with a Low Glycemic Index (low GI) to keep you fuller for longer and for a more sustainable release of energy.
6) DON’T DRINK YOUR CALORIES
Cool drinks are very high in sugar and just drinking one sugary drink a day can increase your likelihood of being overweight with 27 % and increase your risk of dying from a heart attack with 29 %. Drinking two sugary drinks daily can increase your risk of developing diabetes with 24 %. Water is your safest bet and 6-8 glasses of water daily is recommended. Read Tips to drink more water if you struggle to drink enough water. You should limit your intake of fizzy drinks and reduce the number of spoons of sugar used in tea/coffee. Fruit juice is just as high in sugar and should be limited.
7) REDUCE YOUR ALCOHOL INTAKE
Alcohol can be enjoyed socially, and small amounts of alcohol might keep your heart health, but alcohol does contain a lot of calories and consuming too much alcohol will be detrimental to your health. The current recommendation for women is 1 standard drink not more than 5 days a week and for men not more than 2 standard drinks 5 days a week. Drinking more than this increases your blood pressure, risk of stroke, certain cancers, hepatitis and may lead to weight gain
- One standard drink equals:
- 1 glass wine (120 ml)
- 1 tot hard liquor (25 ml)
- Half can beer
8) CHOOSE WHOLESOME SNACKS
Ideas for healthy snacks: Low-fat yogurt, fresh fruit, and vegetables, homemade popcorn, provitas/ rice cakes/ crackers with cheese. Do not snack on: chips, sweets, chocolates, pies, pastries. If you crave something sweet, sit back relax and enjoy the taste of it. Take small bites and chew slowly to savor the taste. Do not snack mindlessly while watching tv or doing something else. For more snack ideas you can click here.
9) ENJOY EXERCISE
Exercise is a great way to take care of your physical and emotional health. It basically makes you feel good, more confident, lives longer, performs better mentally and physically, helps you to manage stress, sleep better, and save tons of money on medical costs. You will need about 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week. If you are inactive at the moment start slow and increase gradually. Remember any exercise is better than nothing. Click here to find some tips on how to get moving.
10) DON’T SMOKE
The best way to improve your health is to quit smoking if you are a smoker. Potential benefits of quitting: less respiratory illness and better breathing, reduced risk for cancers, healthier heart, saving money, and better overall health and well-being.
11) MAKE TIME TO RELAX
Mental wellness is part of being healthy and relaxation is essential for stress management. It is crucial to set a few minutes a day out for yourself. There are many stress-relieving activities to choose from including meditation, exercise, taking a relaxing bath, walking, petting your pets, reading a book, taking deep breaths, reach out to people and spending time with friends, listening to music or dancing or keeping a journal.
There is no diet that can do what healthy eating does. Start today to make small changes to your lifestyle and you will reap the benefits in the years to come.