You’ve wanted to start eating healthier for a while. Maybe you want to lose weight, maybe you want to have more energy, or maybe you just want to feel better. You understand the benefits of eating healthy, but with all the information out there, things can easily get complicated. There’s talk of protein shakes, chia seeds, organic produce, supplements, aloe vera juice… where do you even start?
We know how you’re feeling and we’re here to help. In this Ultimate Guide: Eating Healthy, we’ll give you 10 simple, effective tips for eating healthy that will get you well on your way (no weird food and drink necessary).
Why eat healthy?
It’s kind of a no brainer. A poor diet containing large amounts of sugar, salt and fat can lead to serious diseases including obesity, diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. Eating healthy can help to reduce the risk of disease and help you to have a better family life too. What’s not to like?
Our 10 tips for eating healthy
- Eat less sugar. First, get informed. Start reading food labels so you learn how much sugar your food contains then cut down on your sugar intake. You’ll be surprised how much sugar goes into everyday foods like pasta sauces and tins of baked beans. Make small changes first – switch from two sugars to one sugar in your morning coffee, and opt for low salt beans rather than the original version. Be prepared for sugar cravings with substitutes such as fresh fruit, dried fruit or dates. Additional warning: stay away from ‘fat free’ yoghurts and similar products which claim to be a healthier version – they typically contain a lot of sugar, often more than the original.
- Don’t skip breakfast. For some people who don’t feel hungry in the mornings, skipping breakfast works. But for the majority, skipping breakfast leads to more snacking and a high-in-fat and sugar lunch. Eat a nutritious and filling breakfast to start your day off right – oatmeal or eggs is always a good bet.
- Eat lots of colourful fruits and vegetables. At the heart of healthy eating you will find fruits and vegetables. With so much variety out there, you can experiment to see what you enjoy eating. It’s true that people ‘eat with their eyes, not their mouth’ so use colour to make food look more exciting. You’ll be more likely to eat (and of course enjoy) your meal this way. Bon appetit!
- Eat less processed food. Processed food has fewer nutrients and is harder to digest. Check out this infographic to understand more about the difference between real and processed food in more detail. In short: the more natural the food, the better. Get those chicken drumsticks out of the freezer!
- Switch to wholegrain. When it comes to bread, rice and pasta, it’s worth switching to wholegrain. This will reduce the risk of disease, and whole grains contain more vitamins, minerals, and fibre which is essential for a healthy digestive system. As whole grains take longer to digest, they make you feel fuller for longer – great for weight loss.
- Drink more water. As well as helping with weight loss, water helps to deliver oxygen throughout the body, boosts skin health, flushes body waste, and more. You can’t start a healthy eating journey without considering water, so aim for a minimum of 2 litres per day, and more if you exercise.
- Eat less salt. Your body needs some salt every day, but too much can cause raised blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. When you eat less processed food (number 4 above) this will naturally cause levels of salt to decrease. Make sure you refer to food labels when food shopping, and opt for reduced salt versions where possible.
- Eat more protein. Protein has numerous benefits such as reducing hunger, increasing muscle size, helping with weight loss and it’s good for your bones too. It comes from a range of sources including meat, fish, dairy, eggs and beans/legumes. You don’t have to drink protein shakes, as you can get all of your protein from the sources mentioned above. But you need to believe the hype about protein being really important. It is.
- Be sensible with portion sizes. Do you really need to eat that much? Often, we think we need more food than we actually do, which causes us to overeat. Eating from smaller plates can help with this. Also, try standing up when you’ve finished a meal then walking away from the dinner table. Check if you’re still hungry – 9 times out of 10, you’ll realise you don’t need anything else to eat.
- Snack smart. It’s easy to reach for processed foods when you’re feeling peckish, especially if you work in a place that’s constantly surrounded by treats. Instead of grabbing those doughnuts, biscuits, or other processed food, keep some healthy snacks with you for when you get hungry. Examples include: fresh fruit, rice cakes, wholegrain crackers, nuts, dark chocolate, raisins, protein shake, homemade popcorn, boiled eggs, and more.
Changing your diet can be overwhelming. It takes time, but by implementing the steps above such as controlling your portion sizes, making healthier food choices, and by incorporating more fruits and vegetables in your diet, you’ll have a great start. What’s more you’ll begin to feel the benefits of eating healthier, such as an improved mood, more energy and maybe even losing a few pounds. Have fun!
This article was written by Ravi, a qualified personal trainer and fitness blogger, who teaches people how to transform their bodies and lives through fitness and nutrition. He’s also the CEO of Sports Samurai, a store selling high quality gym bags online – you don’t want to miss these, so click the link. Feel free to like them on Facebook here for more articles, tips, and product information.