Eating a healthy balanced diet plays a key role in protecting our wellness and staying fit. It is not about strict limitations, staying unrealistically thin, and starving yourself of the foods you love. Rather, it is about feeling great, having more energy, improving your health and boosting your mood.
Nourishing our body with the right foods help us live longer, keeps our skin, teeth, and eyes healthy; supports muscles, boosts immunity, strengthens bones, type 2 diabetes, prevents the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
Eating healthy is all about making small changes slowly and trying to build new habits that will last. Everyone has different tastes and lifestyles, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution for eating healthy. That’s why here are 10 simple tips for beginners that can help you make healthier choices without feeling overwhelmed or deprived!
1. Chew your food slowly:
This step is as important as watching what foods you choose to nutrify your body with. The speed at which you eat has an impact on how much you eat, as well as how likely you are to gain weight. By chewing your food longer, your body breaks it down more and more, which helps your stomach digest it better. In addition, when you eat slowly, you give your brain a signal to let your stomach begin he digestion process. So, not only do you feel satiated but your sense of multi-tasking and efficiency increases too!
2. Choose whole foods over processed foods:
Processed foods are foods that are changed from their original food source and have a list of added ingredients. During processing, often important nutrients such as vitamins, minerals antioxidants and fiber are removed while salt, sugar and preservatives are added. Examples of processed food include fast foods, chips, cookies, pizzas and white bread.
Buying processed foods can easily lead us to eating more than the recommended amounts of sugar, salt and fat as we are not aware of how much has been added to the food we are buying and eating. These foods are also higher in calories due to the high amounts of added sugar or fat in them.
So, swap your white breads and instant noodles with fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These are packed with essential nutrients like protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals as opposed to processed foods which contain empty calories.
3. Make water your drink of choice:
Our body is made up of 60% water. This magic drink supports health and promotes hydration without adding calories to the diet. But, unfortunately most people prefer quenching their thirst with soft drinks and sugary sodas.
Energy drinks, fruit drinks, 100% fruit juice, soft drinks and flavored coffees have lots of sugar and little to no nutritional value. Other than the obvious risk of Obesity and Type 2 diabetes, consuming sugary beverages often also lead to liver and kidney damage, premature aging and anxiety. So, instead of sipping packaged juice or soda, carry a reusable water bottle in your bag so you can fill up wherever you are going.
4. Keep healthy snacks handy:
When you get hungry, you’re more likely to eat the first thing you see on the counter or in the cupboard. So, keep healthy food in easily accessible and visible places in your home and workplace. Put some fruits in a basket and place it on the kitchen counter, and stock up your fridge with small batches of cooked whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables. At work, store quick munchies like almonds, pistachios and dried berries in a jar and place it on your desk or in its top drawer.
5. Go nuts for nuts (and seeds):
From healthy fats and proteins to vitamins and minerals, these superfoods are a pack of bursting nutrition. In the same way, seeds like basil, chia, flax and pumpkin seeds are nutritional powerhouses too. They are an excellent source of vitamins, antioxidants, fibre and minerals like calcium, potassium, zinc, and magnesium. You can add them to your delicious baking recipes, sprinkle them over your morning cereal or simply munch on them instead of a candy bar.
6. Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet:
This is one of the most fundamental diet habits. Fruits and vegetables are enriched with nutrients (antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre) and help you maintain a healthy weight by keeping you full for longer. Commit to filling half your plate with vegetables and fruit at every meal and snack.
7. Choose healthier oils:
All cooking oil is 100% fat. So the term healthy cooking oil is very much a misnomer. This is why, like sugar, oil too should be used sparingly.
However, while oil is 100% fat, there are good and bad fats. Good fats refer to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and Bad fats refer to trans and saturated fats, which lowers HDL (good) cholesterol levels and raises LDL levels.
Therefore it is vital that we cook our foods in oils that contain healthy fats. Some excellent options include olive oil, mustard oil, sesame oil, and sunflower oil. These contain various unsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants, and other compounds that help maintain good health.
8. Eat smaller meals more often:
Eat at least three balanced meals a day with light snacks in between. When you wait too long before eating, you are more likely to make unhealthy food choices and eat more than required. So, listen to your body, eat when you physically feel hungry and keep easy-to-eat snacks in your bag for when the hunger pangs hit.
9. Minimise your sugar intake:
Do you consume more than 1 cup of tea/coffee/milk with added sugar? Or do you have a habit of adding too much sugar to your sweet dishes?
Also known as White Poison, sugar is highly processed and has no nutritional value apart from just providing empty calories. Eating too much sugar can result in having too many calories, which can lead to weight gain and obesity. Being overweight increases your risk of health problems like heart disease, gallbladder disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancers. It also increases the risk of other health issues like tooth decay, inflammation, heart problems, fatty liver disease etc.
So, The next time that you want to add a hint of sweetness to your favorite food or drink, you may want to carefully think about the sweetener you use. You can use dates, fruit purées, jaggery, cinnamon, honey, and maple syrup as alternatives to sugar. Apart from providing a sweet taste, these also offer numerous other health benefits.
10. Increase your protein intake
Every cell in the human body contains protein. You need protein in your diet to help your body repair damaged cells and make new ones. Protein helps build and maintain muscles,bones and skin. It is responsible for our total physical growth and development.
Therefore, it is important to eat protein everyday. Ideally, try to fill a quarter of your plate with protein foods. Foods rich in protein include legumes, nuts, seeds, cottage cheese, fish, eggs, poultry, lean red meats, milk and yogurt.
Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.