Top tips for a healthy diet

Author: Naomi Mills

The daily choices you make with your fingers, feet and forks multiply day after day and before you know it there’s your health. If you feel like you don’t have enough knowledge on the subject of nutrition or enough time to commit to choosing and making healthier foods then it can be tempting to delay a change of lifestyle.

Firstly, here are just 3 simple nutrition tips to get you started with your healthier diet:

1. Never skip a meal

You might think, “eating less food means I’ll consume less calories, and that means I’ll lose weight, and the best way to do that is to skip meals.” Whilst consuming less calories than you expend should generally lead to weight loss, skipping meals has its problems. Firstly, skipping meals leaves you hungry, increasing your cravings and making it more likely to snack on unhealthy foods later on. Secondly, if you leave too long a gap between eating this causes your metabolism to shut down so that your body preserves as much energy as it can. Eating small amounts regularly throughout the day keeps your metabolism going which helps to burn more calories. Therefore, it is better to reduce the size of your meals rather than skip them entirely.

2. Switch to unrefined carbs

Many diets completely demonise carbohydrates or make absolute statements such as “bread makes you fat!” Whilst eating lots of carbohydrates can lead to an increase in fat stores, depending on your activity levels, they’re not all bad. The important thing is knowing the difference between refined and unrefined carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates include white bread, rice and pasta, cakes, biscuits and pastries. They are high in sugar and normally contain additives, causing your blood sugar levels to spike. Unrefined carbohydrates have a much higher nutritional value. Wholemeal bread, brown pasta and rice, wheat, beans, and even vegetables all contain unrefined carbohydrates. They are high in fibre and a variety of nutrients. They help to control your appetite and also help to keep your blood sugar levels balanced throughout the day, unlike their refined counterparts.

3. Cut down on sugar

Not only does cutting down on sugar help you to lose weight, it also increases your energy levels, helps you to sleep better, improve your skin and decrease your risk of developing diseases such as diabetes. If you follow my last tip and try to avoid refined carbohydrates then that’s a great start! Other ways to cut down your sugar intake are to reduce sugary drinks, sweets, chocolates and cakes. Foods such as tinned beans, tinned soup and microwaveable meals can also be very high in sugars. You don’t have to eliminate these foods from your diet entirely, but gradually reducing the levels of sugar in your diet can have great health benefits.

So, the above tips are brilliant when you are in control of making your own food but what happens when you want to go out for that celebratory meal or treat, how do you incorporate these into a healthier eating plan?

Again, this is all about the choices that you make. Don’t be fooled into thinking that not eating all day so you can eat a massive meal is the best plan, point number 1 above explains why this is a bad idea!

Enclosed are just a few examples of healthier options to choose from when you are eating out:

  • Stick to fish and meat dishes that aren’t fried
  • Choose foods that are tomato based rather than use cream or cheese
  • Pick fresh fruit for dessert or share a more indulgent one
  • Avoid processed or breaded foods and fatty sauces like mayonnaise or hollandaise
  • Pass on the bread and butter and other pre-starter foods or if you’re hungry have olives
  • Don’t be tempted to eat it all. Once you’re full, ask to take the rest home with you
  • Above all, avoid restaurants that don’t cook their food from fresh

Choosing a healthier option on a menu doesn’t mean it won’t be tasty and it could be an exciting experience broadening your pallet and trying something new that you wouldn’t normally have picked.

So now you can see that it doesn’t matter if you are preparing the food yourself or eating out, having a healthy diet is all about the choices that you make!