10 ways to eat better every day
Finding it difficult to keep up a healthy diet? Try these 10 easy-to-remember hacks to help make healthy eating consistently achievable and fun!
As anyone who's ever tried a diet knows, even the strictest of them won't do any good if you crack after a month and binge-eat everything you feel you missed out on. A more balanced way to eat healthier is to focus on your overall patterns of eating, rather than to demonise and cut out entire foods or food groups.
Known as 'the total diet approach', this idea teaches that all foods can fit into a balanced meal plan if eaten in moderation. Of course, sticking to healthy portion sizes and getting enough physical activity each day are fundamental to the success of this approach. Here are some simple ways to improve your overall eating patterns.
Tips to take up a 'total diet approach'
1. Mix it up
According to dietary guidelines, one of the best ways to achieve nutritional balance is to enjoy a variety of foods. Each basic food group - dairy, grains, fats, protein, vegetables and fruit - supplies different nutrients which are essential for the normal and healthy functioning of our bodies.
2. Bite down on breakfast
No, coffee alone doesn't count! Kick-starting your day with a healthy breakfast (like eggs, mushrooms and tomatoes, or oats with fresh fruit and dairy) will give you the energy to get going. Research shows that eating breakfast every morning can help you control your weight as it can keep blood sugar levels stable and ward off cravings.
3. Chew on a rainbow
Veggies and fruit are filled with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre, so eating your 5-a-day helps ensure you meet your nutritional needs. Try choose ones from each of the five vegetable sub-groups:
- Dark leafy greens (like spinach, turnip greens, kale, beetroot greens, green herbs and romaine lettuce);
- Orange veg (carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut, pumpkin);
- Legumes (beans, lentils, chick peas and split peas);
- Starchy vegetables (mealies, potatoes); and
- Other (tomatoes, cabbage, celery, cucumber, lettuce, onions, peppers).
4. Portion caution
Stick to recommended serving sizes. Using smaller plates, bowls and glasses can help keep your portions under control. Remember to drink water and eat slowly so you don't go back for seconds before you realise you're actually full.
5. Move more
Enough regular exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight. Physical activity is also key to staying healthy because it lowers blood pressure and helps to relieve stress and anxiety. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate to high-intensity exercise most days of the week.
6. Pack snacks
Healthy snacks can keep your energy levels up between meals, and prevent overindulging in the wrong types of food. Try a handful of unsalted nuts, a piece of fresh fruit with plain yoghurt, or a glass of milk.
7. Be a label junkie
Knowing which types of fats should be avoided, and how much sodium or sugar per serving is too much, can help you buy and prepare healthier meals. A dietitian can help you read and understand food labels so you can make smarter choices quickly when you shop for groceries.
8. Brush up on food hygiene
To lower the risk of getting a food-borne illness, always remember to wash your hands properly before preparing and eating food. Make sure your food is properly cooked and refrigerate foods at a suitable temperature to slow bacteria growth.
9. Home bakes
Cooking and eating at home means you know exactly what goes into your food. This way, you can avoid unwittingly consuming too much sugar, salt and unhealthy fats. Plus, research shows that family meals promote healthier eating. So set the table, look away from your screens, and tune into each other.
10. Give yourself a free lunch
Packing your own workday lunches means fewer (unhealthy) impulse purchases, plus it's easier on your pocket. If you're unsure about dietary options, ask an expert - that's what they're there for! A dietitian can help you bring all these tips together and create a personalised and sustainable eating plan for you and your family.
Start with one simple change today to make healthy eating a part of your life forever.