Want to eat a healthy diet but not quite sure where to start? Here are 5 simple methods to make healthier eating work for you.
1. Follow a meal plan
The simplest way to get started with healthy eating is to have a plan. If you have a plan you’re less likely to choose an unhealthy option and you’ll have way less stress about what your next meal is going to be.
Plus, there’ll be a nice sense of (dare we say smug) self-satisfaction, knowing that you have taken steps to prepare yourself a health, nutritious and delicious meal.
2. Shop in advance
Planning a week’s worth of meals in advance and shopping once for the week ensures your fridge and pantry are fully-stocked with the key ingredients to cook healthy meals.
Plus, not only will you be more organised when it comes to your cooking, but by spending less time wandering down supermarket aisles, you’ll also have more time to spend on doing things you enjoy!
If you’re not following a specific plan, aim to spend about 60% of your shopping budget on “eat most” foods, like fruits and vegetables, cereals and legumes - and 30% on “eat moderately foods”, like dairy, meat, eggs and nuts. Try spending no more than 10% on “eat in small amounts” foods such as oils and processed snacks.
3. Adapt your favourite dishes
A lot of your favourite meals can be adapted, not abandoned, if you think creatively. If you love lasagne, for example, substitute mincemeat for lentils and mixed vegetables. If you’re a potato fiend, combine cauliflower with your potato puree - you won’t even taste the difference!
Sensible substitution has numerous health benefits: It helps you cut down on saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol - and you’ll notice little, if any, difference in taste.
4. Reduce your portion sizes
Perhaps it’s not what you’re eating but the amount you’re eating that’s problematic.
Portion sizes have been getting larger for some time - so review the portions in your diet. Reduce the amount of large-sized foods and drinks (coffee, juices) and stick to palm-sized portions of meat, chicken and fish.
The World Health Organisation have pointed out that portion size plays an important role in moderating dietary intake because, as children age, internal hunger and feelings of fullness might be less effective at helping to control food intake.
5. Eat your veggies first
Fill up on greens before anything else, and you’ll feel fuller faster - with less room for any potential less healthier options. Research indicates that vegetables can help to make you feel fuller more quickly because their fibre absorbs the liquid in your stomach.
If you eat protein first, your digestive system slows and doesn’t digest other foods properly. Raw veggies are considered the healthiest of healthy veggie options, too.