Have you set yourself any New Year's resolutions? Maybe you've joined Veganuary or Dry January or you would like to do something to improve your health in general? The good news is, doing something beneficial for yourself can be very easy! Slight adjustments to your diet and behaviour can significantly improve your health over time.
How to eat better?
Diet is one of the factors that impact both our physical and mental health. Some people say 'what you eat is what you are' and I believe this is true. From my own experience, I know that a good and balanced diet keeps me happier and also healthier.
Eating healthy can also be fun! Here are some tips that work for me:
Eat less fat
Fat is an important part of our nutrition, however extensive consumption of saturated fats often leads to gaining weight and in the long-term can mean severe health problems.
Watch the intake of fat in your food closely. Read the labels where you can and adjust your portions/servings per day accordingly.
- Choose low-fat dairy products. Cheese may be looking like an innocent snack or a sandwich filler, however, if you read the information on the packaging, you'll find that eating one slice per day is ok, but that is often the recommended daily serving.
Luckily, there exist many 'light' versions of popular cheeses - from hard ones to soft (spreadable) ones. There are also various low-fat alternatives of yogurt, cream, mayonnaise and milk. The compromise on taste is often very little, sometimes hardly recognisable at all, so why not swap for one that is better for your body?
- Fatty cuts of meat. Some meats contain more fat than others. Try to reduce your consumption of fat from meat by opting-in for leaner cuts, or cutting away fatty bits and skins.
- Fried food is another source of saturated fats. Try to minimise your intake of fried goods and junk food.
Eat less salt
Eating less salt is beneficial for our heart and cardiovascular system. Use less salt, and choose reduced-salt products over regular ones whenever you can.
- Tip: Herbs and spices will lift and enrich the taste of your food instead.
Eat less sugar
Try to reduce your intake of sugary products. Sweets, cakes, pastries, spreads, but also fizzy drinks, fruit juices, table sauces and alcoholic drinks are typical sources of sugar and so-called 'hidden calories'.
- Choose low-sugar or sugar-free options where you can (also known as low-calorie or diet).
Eat more fruit, veg and pulses
Fruit and vegetables are important sources of vitamins, minerals and fibre. It is recommended to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and veg (inlc. pulses) combined per day.
- Pulses such as lentils, peas and beans are a rich source of proteins, minerals and fibre amongst other valuable nutrients. Eating more of them will improve your gut and blood pressure.
- Salads, but also soups and sauces are great for implementing an increased intake of vegetables and pulses per day.
- A plate full of vibrant colors and shapes of fruit, veg and pulses is like a piece of art. It lifts up your mood, is also more appealing & often super simple to make! Use your creativity in the kitchen and create your own healthier world!
I believe that even the smallest changes to our diet, such as swapping for healthier and lighter alternatives, can lead to great results and overall better health.
Homecooking is a fantastic opportunity to keep an eye on what you eat and gives you control over your fat, sugar and salt intake.
A balanced diet, drinking plenty of water and regular exercise (such as daily walks) are all important parts of a healthy lifestyle.
I hope you find these tips helpful. Let me know in the comments what changes to your cooking you make to cook healthier!
Disclaimer: Please note, that I am not a certified dietitian. All of the recommendations above are based on my personal experience and observation. Everyone is different and therefore you may find some things won't work for you. Always consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions.