A new year brings with it great enthusiasm to change our lives in some way for the better. This could be by ditching our boring job for our dream position, replacing TV time in the evening with a hobby we have always wanted to try or to include some more physical activity in our days. For the majority of people, a new year means transforming their body by either getting fit, changing their diet or both.
Unfortunately, 80 percent of new year’s resolutions don’t stand up past the first two months. Why? Because they tend to be overly ambitious or aim to drastically change your habits and lifestyle in such a way you can’t possibly maintain it.
Now, we don’t want to discourage you from setting new year’s resolutions about improving your health (there’s still time if you haven’t yet!) or put you off achieving them, but we do want to help you along the way. So here we want to share with you some simple healthy eating rules that don’t follow a fad diet, a particular trend or demonise certain foods. They’re just logical tips which will help you improve your health, tips that many of us seem to have forgotten or lost along the way.
Get most of your nutrition from consuming a variety of unprocessed foods
Food that hasn’t been heavily processed, packaged, stored and shipped around the world is alive. With life brings nutrients in the form of carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamin and minerals. Wholefoods like fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, poultry and eggs that haven’t been processed in a factory should be your main source of nutrition.
Think apples instead of a glass of apple juice, whole grains over refined grains, fresh tomatoes over canned diced tomatoes or brown rice over white. Shop the perimeter of the supermarket and fill your trolley with foods that haven’t been pre-prepared, cooked or altered any way.
Consume processed food less often
Processed food generally saves time, is convenient and often cheaper than whole, natural foods. But with the processing comes labels with ingredients you can’t pronounce, let alone understand. They are more addictive, lack nutrients and are often associated with negative health outcomes.
It’s important to shift the balance in your consumption of processed foods. If the majority of your diet is made up of whole foods as mentioned above, then there is little room and need for highly processed foods. Reduce your consumption of those lightly processed foods like pasta (let’s be honest, most of us are not going to grind our flour and extract our own oil, making the pasta from scratch) and prepare it in a dish with the majority of ingredients being unprocessed.
Eat the more heavily processed foods like bread, biscuits, chips and cereals even less, reserving them as an occasional treat initially. You’ll find that further down the road you go of limiting processed foods from your diet, the less likely you will want to eat them.
Eat mostly home-cooked food
Cooking for yourself not only means you will avoid ingredients that are not known to nature more easily, but you will have full control of what you’re eating. You’re also less likely to consume large potions that leave you feeling stuffed to the brim or eat those side of fries just because they are there.
Cooking at home allows you to be more control of what you are eating, how it was prepared and how much of it. If you regularly eat out, just remember the is about a change in habit as much as it is a change in your diet. Changing habits and behaviours takes time, so stick with it. For the times you do eat out, try choose a restaurant or café that follow these same simple rules.
Don’t be afraid of salt and fat when cooking
There was a time when fat was one of the most demonised foods around, but evidence now suggests that wasn’t totally warranted. Using fat like butter and oil when cooking shouldn’t be shunned. These along with seasonings like salt are often just what’s need to make our food even more satisfying and tasty.
The key is using these in moderation! Don’t lather your vegetables in a dollop of herb butter or douse your steak with salt. Just use enough to add to your dish, not to be the main hero!
Consider water to be your main fluid intake
Water is the most natural way to hydrate our body and is one of the only beverages with no health ramifications. Sure, there is evidence to suggest coffee and alcohol could be cancer preventative, but there is also evidence that they also contribute to its development. You should also drink all beverages with calories, like your smoothie, glass of milk or coffee, as you would alcohol.
Again, the key is moderation. Have a cup of coffee in the morning because you like it, but don’t consume it as if your body needs it, because the reality is it doesn’t.
Eat with people you love
While food is about providing us with adequate nutrients, it’s also about pleasure. We get pleasure from the flavours, the textures, the colours of our food. What’s more eating our meals surrounded by people we love stimulates pleasure and brings added benefits than just enjoying a good conversation.
You’re more likely to cook and take care of how you prepare your food when you are sharing it with others. You’ll also more likely eat your meal more slowly as you chat away with your dinner guests, improving your digestion of food.
These simple rules are not about jumping on a fad diet or a cleanse to gain immediate weight loss and look like a 20-something year old model with a six pack. They are about getting you more control of what you’re eating, how much food is on your plate and where it came from. More importantly, it’s about enjoying your food and eating a wide variety to nourish your body.