Eating healthy doesn’t have to be hard work, it doesn’t have to be expensive either, but it does improve your health and help you with your fitness/weight loss goals.
For some reason a lot of excuses for unhealthy eating stem from the belief that it is expensive or that people just don’t have the time. If you are serious about your goals you need to find time to exercise, food shopping is something you should do anyway so that should not make any difference to your schedule, unless you eat mostly takeaways which is not a healthy alternative and can end up costing you more money than preparing your own food.
Here are some simple ways to help you eat healthier:
Know what a portion size is, do not judge a portion size by the size of a packet or the size of a meal at a restaurant. Listen to your body and stop eating when you feel full. Eat slowly to allow your body to signal that it is full, if you are a fast eater you don’t have enough time to realise you are full until it is too late. You can eat healthy foods and still gain weight if you eat too much of them so remember everything in moderation.
2. Pre-plan your meals and only buy what you need
Deciding what you are going to eat, for the next few days or a week, whilst you are shopping is not the easiest thing to do and can lead to buying lots of food but those purchases may not be the right kinds of food to go together. Take a look at some healthy meal recipes and plan your week ahead and then go shopping. This way you will save the time and effort each day of deciding what to eat and whether you have the right ingredients, it can help yoto judge the amount of foods you need to buy. It will also help stop you reaching for the fast fixes such as a take away, ready meals or processed foods.
3. Stick to the outer edges of the store
Next time you go to the grocery store have a look at where everything is, you will probably notice that most stores have all the fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, meats, breads, dairy etc on the outer edges and all the aisles in the middle of the store will have the less healthy options. So go shopping and try to stick to the outer edges when buying your food, you will be bypassing any temptations.
4. Fill up on fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. Make your choices colourful, don’t just stick to greens like lettuce and broccoli, make sure you get colour such as carrots, red and orange peppers, cabbage, corn, sweet potatoes, beets, squash etc to get the best of all the nutrients. Make sure you get your 5 a day.
5. Buy store brands
Store brands of products are not necessarily inferior, some of the products are exactly the same it’s just that the more expensive brands have better packaging and advertising. Because of the better packaging and advertising it has made the products more expensive. Don’t be fooled. Check ingredients of store brands versus your favourite brands and see if there is a difference. Eggs, milk, pasta, rice, cottage cheese etc are unlikely to taste differently whether they are store brand or a more expensive brand.
6. Choose different sources of protein
Protein is very important in your diet and for your body but that doesn’t mean you have to always buy the expensive fresh fish or meats, such as salmon, sea bass and steaks, all the time. Protein can come from cheaper sources, chicken, tuna, mackerel, eggs, beans, soy, nuts, seeds, low fat dairy, lentils, whey etc.
7. Healthy fats not unhealthy fats
You need fat in your diet, it is the type of fats that make a difference. Stay away from saturated or trans fats and go for monounsaturated fats so avocadoes, olive oil, hazel nuts, pecan nuts or polyunsaturated fats such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, walnuts etc just remember everything in moderation.
8. Buy in bulk
If you eat wholemeal pasta, brown rice, tuna in a tin, frozen vegetables etc then buy them in bulk when there are offers on. Any of the healthier items that have a long shelf life are the ones to look out for.
9. Fruit and vegetables that are in season
Fruit and vegetables are staples that you need daily but to save yourself some money choose those that are in season. You can get most foods throughout the year these days because they can be shipped in from various countries but that’s where the prices get pushed up. Choose the produce that are in season or buy locally at farmers markets etc. If you live in the country look out for signs outside farms saying, eggs, potatoes for sale. Go to a ‘pick your own’ and pick your own fruits, it’s a great way of spending part of the day outdoors, being active and you get to be picky about the ripeness of the berries you take home.
10. Limit sugar and salt
Beware of sugary foods and also sugar free foods, get your sugar fix from fruit, it is healthier and lower in calories. Sugary treats can contain sugar substitutes and sugar alcohols – such as those found in low calorie and low carb foods such as cookies, energy bars, cakes, diet drinks and sweets can actually cause bloating, abdominal distension and gas as they are not easily digested. A lot of the time when products say they are sugar free they are likely to contain sugar substitutes, some of these substitutes are worse than others, such as aspartame, so remember that just because it says it is sugar free does not mean it is the healthier option.
Don’t overdo the salt, do you really need to add it to your cooking and then to the finished meal? Salt can be found in most foods but processed foods have a lot of added salt. Salt is important for maintaining the normal ph of blood and controlling the amount of water in our body but excessive amounts has been linked to high blood pressure and stomach cancer. Adults should consume no more than 6grams per day. Studies have shown that the majority of people consume too much salt.
11. Drink tap water
Don’t buy bottled water, use tap water but filter it first. Buy a filter jug and use this to fill up water bottles using tap water, it will save you money and you will have water whenever you need it.
12. Make a shopping list
Make your shopping list before you go food shopping and don’t deviate from it. Check what you need to re-stock in your cupboards and refrigerator. Check your meal plans and list everything you will need to get you through until your next shopping trip. If you are buying fresh vegetables and fruit it makes sense to do smaller shops more often so you limit the chances of food waste.
13. Don’t be hungry when going shopping
Going shopping whilst hungry influences your choices, you are more likely to buy more food than you need and there is a good chance you will choose options that aren’t so healthy, when you are hungry everything seems appetising especially the foods that are the quickest and easiest such as processed foods. You may even find yourself buying a snack for your trip home. So eat before you go and don’t forget your list.
14. Take your own food with you to work
This is a great way to avoid temptation and ensure you eat healthier meals. This way you can control portion sizes and you will have had control over how much salt, spread etc has been used, plus it will also save you money.
15. Grow your own food
Not everyone has a garden, but if you do then think about growing your own vegetables or fruit. Even of you don’t have a garden maybe you have a small outdoor space, a balcony or maybe even a window planter where you grow herbs, tomatoes etc. Not only will you save money but you will also find that food you grow yourself tastes better and you can choose what you use to keep the bugs off