Healthy Eating Tips To Improve Your Diet
The advice given on healthy eating is often confusing and contradictory, so in these tips I’ve tried to stick to the things that everyone agrees on (mostly everyone).
We are bombarded with health information so rather than rehash the things you already know here is an attempt to help you apply the healthy eating you know you should be doing.
Before we start here’s a quick summary of the principles we will be trying to apply.
Your diet should consist of – in order of amount recommended:
- Vegetables and fruits – aim to make these at least half of your diet, especially important if you are trying to lose weight – these will fill you up, provide nutrients, but without the excess calories of the other food groups.
- Whole grain and full fibre carbohydrates – such as brown rice, brown bread, whole grain pasta, potatoes with the skins left on, whole grain cereal – these will be your main sources of calories (energy) that you need for your physical activities during the day.
- Pulses, beans, nuts, fish, eggs, white meat – these provide many of the nutrients not found in the the above two foods groups, oily fish and nuts in particular are rich in nutrients. Fish and white meat will help to keep you feeling full for longer than carbs so can help reduce your overall calorie intake.
- Dairy, saturated fats and oils, red meat – should be eaten in moderation.
- Crisps, biscuits, sweets, sugary drinks – sorry, not recommended at all in a healthy diet regime.
Vegetable oils such as Olive and Canola oil are now considered to be healthy if consumed in sensible quantities both can be used to improve the flavour of bland foods. The Mediterranean diet extensively uses olive oil and is considered to be the healthiest diet in Europe.
Processed carbohydrates such as white bread are digested quickly, will not fill you up so much, and may be associated with weight gain as a result.
So That’s What You Should Be Eating, but How Can You Achieve It?
Try to have at least two vegetables with your evening meal, if you can’t be bothered peeling and cutting, frozen vegetables are quick and easy.
If you get bored of plain boiled veggies then try coating with a small amount of butter. No we haven’t gone crazy recommending butter on a healthy eating page, a small (the size of your fingernail) amount of butter will add negligible calories to a meal while vastly improving the flavour, just make sure it doesn’t become a tablespoon of butter.
Tray-baking Your Veggies – put fresh cut vegetables such as peppers, onions, mushrooms (or any other vegetables) on a baking try, spray with a light baking spray oil and cook in the oven. You can also add flavourings such as balsamic vinegar, black pepper or a sauce of your choice to the tray-bake for extra deliciousness.
Vegetable Soup – another way to get one of your five-a-day is to make vegetable soup, its so easy and delicious. Boil your vegetables as normal, pretty much anything will do but the best flavours usually come from mixing up a variety of vegetables. When they are cooked put them in your food processor or smoothie maker, and give them a blast. Add salt and pepper to taste, and you have a shockingly delicious lunch.
This vegetable soup can also be used as a base for other meals such as sauces, and curries. You might even get the satisfaction of having a child or partner compliment you on a meal when you know it is mostly made from carrots and broccoli !
Curry Once a Week! – as if you need an excuse! Curries are a great way to get your healthy foods, you can add lots of vegetables, mushrooms, even leftovers from last night, and if you use the soup base as suggested above you’ll have a nutrient packed super healthy meal that everyone will love.
Veggie Omelette – chop your vegetables such as peppers, onions, mushrooms or whatever into small one centimetre pieces, fry for a few minutes until soft and then add your whisked eggs. The full recipe can be found here.
Veggie Kebab – chop your vegetables into largish pieces put on a skewer, grill or bake. Onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, courgette, peppers are all good this.
Salad for Lunch – a salad can be both filling and surprisingly tasty. Chop your salad vegetables, lettuce, salad leaves, tomatoes, peppers, onion etc, optionally add chopped ham or cheese or tuna drizzle with olive oil and you have a super healthy lunch.
Baked Chips – a great healthier alternative! Thinly slice and chip your potatoes, coat with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and place on a none stick oven tray at 200c, gas mark 6, until crispy. For extra healthy chips use sweet potatoes instead or normal potatoes, these have a lower GI (Glycemic Index) so will give you less of a glucose spike, and crash that comes after it.
Cauliflower Rice – a healthier lower calorie alternative to rice, you can buy it pre-made from the supermarket or make it yourself by ‘pulsing’ cauliflower florets in a food processor. This is becoming very popular as it’s filling, tasty, nutritious and low calorie.
Consider Buying a Slow Cooker – it can take some of the effort out of eating healthy. A lazy way to make an awesome home-made evening meal is to do the following before you go to work: Throw a bunch of chopped vegetables (or just use the frozen veggies mentioned earlier) , meat, a stock cube, seasoning into your slow cooker, and when you return your casserole will be ready to eat.
Fruits – if you don’t have one, buy a large fruit bowl and keep it stocked up. These are the ‘free’ snacks you can eat as much as you like. The ‘free’ part is free from guilt. Fruits don’t have to be the standard apples, oranges etc there are many other ways to get your daily fruit fix, for example mix in some fruits with your breakfast cereal, these could be blueberries, chopped strawberries, raspberries, chopped banana, chopped kiwi, melon, or raisins. Supermarkets now stock packets of frozen small fruits that can be used if you can’t get fresh fruits easily. You can alter the proportion of fruit to cereal depending on your calorific needs and personal preference.
A great healthy breakfast is low fat yogurt and chopped fruit, this can be made more substantial by adding rolled oats which will keep you feeling full for much of the morning.
Dried fruits can be used as a healthier snack. Raisins, dates, dried apricots, dried bananas can be used in place of sweets, although don’t overdo it, dried fruits are sugar rich and high in calories.
Drink Plenty of Water – Keeping hydrated is healthy in lots of ways, not least of which a large glass of water before you eat will stop you eating quite so much.
There are many ways to improve your diet, some easy – such as eat an apple instead of a packet of crisps, and some require a bit more effort – such as learn how to make fruit granola bars, so choose a path that you are comfortable with and eat yourself healthy!