Why to widen your diet, not narrow it
Simply eating a colourful variety of foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains and lean protein can contribute to weight management as well as our physical and emotional wellbeing. Eating food full of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients can reduce the risk of diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease, while it also boosts our immune system, vitality and energy. It can also enrich our lives, through experimenting with different foods from different cultures and by introducing new ways to prepare food.
Three reasons this January to give real foods a try:
- Reduce cravings – a drop in blood sugar can result in unhealthy food cravings. Complex carbohydrates and lean proteins can help to stabilize blood sugar to prevent these changes. As your diet becomes more balanced with real foods, you will find that cravings for unhealthy food lessen.
- Improve your mood – whole grain foods are associated with increased serotonin, which is a brain chemical linked to improved mood. Foods such as turkey, yogurt and fish can also help, as they contain tryptophan, which the body converts to serotonin.
- Benefit from smarter eating decisions – real food eating requires knowledge. As you learn about real foods, how to pick them and prepare them you will make more informed decisions about what you want to eat. You start to take control of the food rather than the food taking control of you.
Three simple ways to improve healthy eating
- Eat more fish
Aim for at least two portions a week and make one an oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, herring or trout. Fish is a great source of protein vitamins and minerals, while oily fish is an important source of omega-3, important for heart health. Try to include as wide a variety as possible, making it a different fish each time. You can choose from fresh, frozen and canned, but remember that canned and smoked fish can be high in salt.
- Cut down on sugar
Regularly consuming foods and drinks high in sugar increases your risk of obesity and tooth decay. If you eat more sugar than your body needs the rest is stored as excess fat. Always read the food label and look out for added sugars.
Foods to cut down on: sodas, breakfast cereals, pastries, fruit juice, smoothies.
- Stay hydrated
We need 6-8 glasses of fluid a day, on top of the food we eat. All non-alcoholic drinks count, though try to avoid sodas, energy drinks, fancy coffees and juices that are high in sugars or artificial sweeteners. Remember, even unsweetened fruit juices and smoothies contain sugar. Make water your go-to choice instead, adding slices of lime, lemon or cucumber for extra pizzazz.
It’s not just about what you eat
How your food is prepared can be as important as what you eat in the quest for a healthier non-diet diet. People who cook at home more often, rather than eating out, buying takeaways or ordering home deliveries, tend to have healthier overall diets and save money. Time and tiredness are often the culprits for this, but with a little preplanning home cooking can be fast, rewarding and fun.
Three great reasons to encourage a return to the kitchen
- By cooking more often at home, you take control of exactly what you eat. No risk of being exposed to dodgy cooking oils. Take advantage of food deals. Enjoy a better diet for less cost.
- Home cooked meals are associated with diets lower in calories, sugar and fat, because the additives don’t make it in. Spices, herbs, tangy lemons, garlic and exotic chillies all can add amazing flavours, provide health boosts and are a fantastic substitute for sugar, unhealthy fats and too much salt.
- Unsurprisingly households who cook at home more often than eating out are healthier.
Make eating real food Just Routine
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