If your current diet is quite different to the recommendations, try starting with just one or two little changes at a time rather than changing everything at once. Once those first few changes have become the norm, add a couple more. Remember, even a little step towards healthier eating is better than doing nothing at all!
If you’re not sure where to start, you can break it down into two key messages:
Include the five food groups in your diet.
Cut back on ‘occasional’ foods.
The key to a healthy diet is to eat the right amount of calories for how active you are so you balance the energy you consume with the energy you use.
If you eat or drink more than your body needs, you’ll put on weight because the energy you do not use is stored as fat. If you eat and drink too little, you’ll lose weight.
You should also eat a wide range of foods to make sure you’re getting a balanced diet and your body is receiving all the nutrients it needs.
It’s recommended that men have around 2,500 calories a day (10,500 kilojoules). Women should have around 2,000 calories a day (8,400 kilojoules).
- Base your meals on higher fibre starchy carbohydrates
Starchy carbohydrates should make up just over a third of the food you eat. They include potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and cereals.
Choose higher fibre or wholegrain varieties, such as wholewheat pasta, brown rice or potatoes with their skins on.
They contain more fibre than white or refined starchy carbohydrates and can help you feel full for longer.
Try to include at least 1 starchy food with each main meal. Some people think starchy foods are fattening, but gram for gram the carbohydrate they contain provides fewer than half the calories of fat.
Keep an eye on the fats you add when you’re cooking or serving these types of foods because that’s what increases the calorie content – for example, oil on chips, butter on bread and creamy sauces on pasta.
2.Don’t Shop Without a List
There are two important strategies to employ when you go grocery shopping: make your shopping list ahead of time and don’t go to the store hungry.
Not knowing exactly what you need makes room for impulse buying, while hunger can further exacerbate your impulses.
To make sure you don’t give in to your impulses, plan ahead and write down what you need beforehand.
By doing this and sticking to your list, you will not only buy healthier items but also save money and have healthier foods around the house.
3.Say no to sugary drinks.
The average American drinks around 45 gallons of soda each year, according to the Beverage Marketing Corporation. Other than the obvious risk of Type 2 diabetes and obesity, consuming sugary beverages can also cause liver damage, premature aging and anxiety. So, instead of sipping packaged juice or soda, go for unsweetened beverages or infused water.
“It’s so easy to order takeaway or eat out, but it’s when we actually get in the kitchen and cook with food that we really develop a true appreciation for it,” O’Hanlon said.
“How much more rewarding does it feel when you’ve cooked up a meal for your partner or your friends and they tell you how much they enjoy it? I know for me, cooking for others makes me so happy and it’s the best feeling in the world when I get to share food together with loved ones.”
- Cut back on salt
Even if we don’t add extra salt in our food, we should be aware that it is commonly put in processed foods or drinks, and often in high amounts.
Some tips to reduce your salt intake:
When cooking and preparing foods, use salt sparingly and reduce use of salty sauces and condiments (like soy sauce, stock or fish sauce).
Avoid snacks that are high in salt, and try and choose fresh healthy snacks over processed foods.
When using canned or dried vegetables, nuts and fruit, choose varieties without added salt and sugars.
Remove salt and salty condiments from the table and try and avoid adding them out of habit; our tastebuds can quickly adjust and once they do, you are likely to enjoy food with less salt, but more flavor!
Check the labels on food and go for products with lower sodium content.
6.Slow down when you eat
Eating too quickly can lead to poor digestion. Also, if you scarf your food down, it makes it hard to enjoy your meal. It takes the brain about 20 minutes to register that you’re full. If you eat too fast, you will get the hunger satiety signal too late — usually when you’re uncomfortably full.
A few other healthy diet tips:
Avoid processed meats (too much sodium)
Eat breakfast to boost energy
Swap out sugary drinks for herbal tea and fruit water
Eat whole fruits instead of drinking juice
Discover more healthy eating tips by talking with a registered dietitian or your doctor.
Here’s to happy and healthy eating!