With all of the conflicting health advice out there on the Internet, it can be hard to find the facts. You want to get healthy, and you want to put in the work, but there are so many diets or different ways of supposed healthy eating out there, that you don’t know which to choose! Should you try keto? Paleo? Plant-based? Whole 30? Intermittent fasting? What should you be doing?!
Our answer: take it back to basics. You don’t need to subscribe to any particular diet or way of eating, and the best way to improve your health is to focus on the big picture and keep it simple.
Here are our top 10 healthy eating tips:
1. Enjoy a variety of foods
Variety is one of the most important things to include in your diet! You should aim for a variety of types of food (e.g. different types of vegetables, different types of grains, different types of protein sources) and a variety of colours of food (e.g. red vegetables, green vegetables, orange vegetables). While it can be tempting to find one or two foods that you like and stick with using those in your meals, it means that you can be missing out on micronutrients like different vitamins and minerals. Each food has a different nutritional makeup, so it’s important to eat lots of different things to ensure that you’re getting everything you need.
2. Aim for 5 serves of vegetables each day
We know- you already know this one is important! Vegetables are so good for us and they contain plenty of essential nutrients that will keep your body feeling healthy. 5 serves each day is the recommended amount for women, and for men it’s 6. If this sounds like a daunting amount of vegetables, keep in mind these tips:
- Spread your vegetables out across the day. Try having spinach and tomatoes with eggs at breakfast, some greens in your daily smoothie, a salad at lunch, carrot sticks with dip for a snack as well as a couple of serves in your dinner. You’ll find that spreading it out makes it much more manageable.
- Using frozen vegetables instead of fresh is fine. This saves you prep time and is great for busy parents, because you don’t need to worry about chopping them all up- they’re ready to go when you are!
3. Eat lots of plants
Plant foods are very important, and should make up the bulk of our diet. As well as vitamins and minerals, they also include fibre. Fibre is important to help keep our digestive system healthy and makes us feel fuller for longer. It can also improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and can assist in preventing some diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and bowel cancer.
4. Don’t cut out any food groups
The issue with a lot of diets out there is that they cut out entire food groups, which isn’t good for our health. It means that you can miss out on essential nutrients, and can also have a negative effect on our relationship with food. All of the major food groups are important to keep our bodies running properly.
5. Eat adequate carbohydrates
Carbs are important! They’ve been given a bad rap over the last few years, and a lot of people have the misconception that carbohydrates are bad for you. Vegetables are predominantly made up of carbohydrates, as are fruits and wholegrains. These foods are all important to your health. Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy, and they help to fuel your brain, kidneys, heart muscles and central nervous system.
6. Include protein with most meals
Protein makes up the building blocks of our bodies, called amino acids, which are used to make hormones and enzymes, and to build and repair muscles and bones. It also helps us to feel fuller for longer when we eat, so it’s good to include a source of protein with most of our meals to ensure we’re not hungry again in half an hour. Good sources of protein include fish, dairy, lean meats, eggs and legumes.
7. Choose good sources of fats
Fat has also been demonised over time, but it’s another vital part of our diet. There are different types of fat, so it’s important to make sure that you’re making the right choices. Unsaturated fats are best to consume, which you can find in avocado, nuts and seeds, olive oil and fish. Try to limit your intake of saturated fats (found in animal products and processed foods) and trans fats (found in packaged foods, butter and some margarines).
8. Eat foods you enjoy
It’s important to actually enjoy the food that you’re eating! Food is one of life’s great pleasures, and you can eat a healthy, balanced diet that tastes great. If you struggle to eat vegetables with your meals, experiment with them until you find ones that you like. Different cooking methods can help, or the addition of different herbs and spices. Take baby steps rather than trying to overhaul your whole diet at once, and you’ll find that it’s much easier to make sustainable changes.
9. Focus on vitamins and minerals
We’ve already mentioned the importance of getting different micronutrients in your diet, but it’s worth repeating! Our bodies need the different types of vitamins and minerals, and if we’re deficient in one it can have serious effects on our bodies. Ensure that you’re eating a variety of food that covers them all, particularly if you have any dietary restrictions – you might need to be more conscious of your intake.
10. Soul food is important too
Lastly, it’s important to include the foods that you love in your diet. We’re not telling you to eat chocolate for every meal (that probably doesn’t belong in a ‘healthy eating tips’ list), but, if you love it, cutting it out completely can have adverse effects. Denying ourselves our favourite foods can often lead to us craving them more and bingeing on them, so it’s best to allow yourself to eat them in moderation to satisfy the craving.
Still need help staying on track with your goals and enjoying a healthy diet? Our food coaches are here to help. See reception or call (03) 6272 4849 for more information on how we can help you.