What’s the secret to a healthy diet and lifestyle? Ah, the notorious question that follows after one introduces their profession as a dietitian or nutritionist. In my opinion, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ diet to suit everyone, but there are definitely some tips that (almost) everyone can adopt for healthy living. At the end of the day, it’s your body, your life, your choices. So choose to look after your body – after all, you’re the one that has to live in it! I’ve compiled a list of healthy tips below. This is not rocket science. If anything, most of it is made up of basic physiology mixed with a splash of common sense!
Eat real foods
There’s so much cafuffle about ‘don’t eat this, don’t eat that’. But rather than worrying about what not to eat, start by eating real food and learn to cook. Nowadays it’s just as convenient to pick up a good recipe online or from a cookbook as it is to order take out. As much as 75% of salt in the diet is from processed foods. So try to eat more fresh produce and thereby, limit consumption of processed foods.
Eat the rainbow
Different coloured fruits and vegetables have different nutrients. Some nutrients the body can produce, and some it can’t and must be consumed from foods. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables ensures that your body is receiving adequate building blocks for good health.
Yes, size matters! It’s funny how so many of us eat with our eyes. We see, we want, we eat, we over eat, we regret (or not). Caffeine addicts, swap regular and grande lattes for small ones. Filling up on one thing means you decrease opportunities to consume other foods that feed your body with some vital nutrients. At home, swap larger bowls and plates for smaller ones. Increase your metabolism by breaking up meals into smaller portions and eat more regularly. That way you will less likely have the sudden urge to over eat because you are ‘starving’.
Not everyone has the time to hit the gym but that’s no excuse to be sedentary. Increase incidental physical activity deliberately. Choose to take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. Park your car further from the train station or shopping centre and walk the distance.
Drop the salt
The preference for salty foods is an acquired taste. Therefore, it’s reversible. Flavour foods with herbs and spices instead of salt. Leave the salt shaker in the pantry, not on the dinner table – out of sight, (hopefully) out of mind.
When we don’t get enough sleep we tend to make lousy food choices. I’m sure many of us would have experienced the ‘I-need-a-caffeine-fix-or-ten-to-wake-up-and-recover-from-my-big-night-out-(or-in)’ syndrome, or similar. Either way, you probably wouldn’t have the integrity to make healthy food choices when all you can think of is sleeping!
Fill up on salad
I must say, many restaurants and cafes are dishing up some funky rustic salads these days as opposed to once-upon-a -time when salads were ‘boring’. Salads are a great way to fill up on nutritious vegetables without the unnecessary calories.
Love chocolate? Can’t resist potato chips? Lollies or cake? Of course you do! I am not a food police! In fact, I believe it is perfectly fine to indulge in your favourite treats sometimes. As quoted by many people, “One bad meal won’t make you fat, just as one good meal won’t make you lean.” The key is everything in moderation. Feeling bad about eating certain foods is ridiculous because guilt will likely result in punishment. Now that’s no way to live a balanced life! Cutting yourself off from ‘indulgences’ will probably intensify the cravings and lead to an outburst of binge eating.
So there you go… the secret to a healthy diet and lifestyle is revealed (or part thereof). Of course, this list is not exhaustive and it definitely isn’t an instruction manual for optimal health. However, if you do choose to adopt any of these tips, your body and health will definitely thank you for it in the long run! The choice is yours.