1. Don’t skip breakfast It’s true. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. It’s easy to rush out of the house to work without a good breakfast, especially early in the morning but making sure you are having a good breakfast is key to a healthy lifestyle. Eating breakfast can increase energy and blood sugar levels, kick starts your metabolism and can help concentration. Muesli topped with fruit, milk or natural yoghurt and honey is great or smoothies are perfect for on the go people and a great way to get your 5 a day. Stay away from any cereals that have any sugar in which is not naturally occurring, these will just spike your blood sugar levels and you will find you have a slump very soon afterwards.
2. Check the labels and learn to cook from scratch
Take a look at the ingredients of that jar of pasta sauce you have in your cupboard and you will be surprised at how long it is. It is probably full of salt, sugar and preservatives listed under very chemical names. Not everyone is a great cook but learning the basics could save you money as well as improve your diet. Easy things like pasta sauce, bolognese and roast vegetables can be a great start for a new cook. When cooking from scratch you can keep track of exactly how much salt, sugar and veg goes into your meal.
3. Eat more fruit and veg (especially veg)
We all know that we should be trying to eat 5 portions of fruit and veg a day but often it slips by the wayside in our diet. It is actually more important to eat veg than fruit as fruit can be acidic and has a lot of natural sugar in which is not good for your teeth, don’t necessarily cut your intake of fruit just be aware of this if you eat a lot of it. Try to pack your diet with veg and you will feel a difference in your energy, immune system and weight. The quickest and best way to get more veg in your diet is in smoothies. You can pack a smoothie with greens like spinach, broccoli, kale and sweeten it with some cloudy apple juice, kiwi and lime juice for a kick. Its tasty and you’re getting a big influx of veg in one go.
4. Eat more Fish
Fish is a superfood! It’s high in protein and omega 3 and low in saturated fat, it’s also super tasty. Try to eat two portions of fish a week, it can be fresh, frozen or tinned but remember tinned can be high in salt. Eating oily fish can reduce the risk of heart disease and improves the chances of survival after experiencing a heart attack. It can also help reduce blood clotting and irregular heart rhythms after a heart attack. Not just good for your heart, fish is also good for your brain. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are found in a lot of fish which may stop the damage of brain cells and the omega 3 in fish is believed to raise levels of serotonin which can help with depression. Pretty amazing for a fish!
5. Switch white carbs for brown carbs
It’s more important to eat carbs from healthy foods than to cut carbs out of your diet. The best carbohydrates to eat are minimally processed ones like whole grain bread or quinoa rather than highly refined white bread and pastries. Try switching white potatoes for sweet potatoes (they are a superfood), white rice for brown rice and white bread for whole grain/granary bread. Personally I think they tastes better and they will fill you up for longer.
6. Cut out refined foods
All food that has gone through more processes than it needs to means that it is losing some of it’s nutrients and minerals. Take milk for example, skimmed milk has gone through a process to remove some of the fat content which takes away a lot of flavour and nutrients that milk naturally contains. It’s a similar story with margarine, it is actually better to use olive oil or real butter than marg as it’s full of additives and preservatives, margarine isn’t even naturally yellow in colour, the manufacturers give it that colour to make it more appealing to you. So don’t sacrifice taste for something you think is lower in fat because more often than not its that way because it has gone through a lot of different processes. So butter lovers rejoice! It’s official, butter is better for you.
7. Have two meat-free days a week
We are eating more meat than we have ever eaten before and most meat eaters can’t imagine any meal without some sort of meat but it is healthier for you (and your wallet) to go meat free for a couple of days in the week. Cooking a couple of vegetarian dishes a week will force you to use more veg and there are some really tasty recipes to try. It will get you more creative with your cooking and will help reduce your intake of saturated fat. My advice would be to buy less meat but better quality meat instead.
8. Drink more water
We all know that we need to drink around 2 litres of water a day but by drinking more water it maintains your body’s water levels which pumps nutrients around your body and helps you digest food better. It will help improve the quality of your skin, increase energy levels and helps fight those colds so get it down you.
An obvious one but an important one none the less. There is no point in changing your diet if you aren’t exercising enough. Just 2 and a half hours a week is all you need and you don’t have to go to the gym to get fit. Walking the dog, going on a bike ride and fun fitness classes are all great ways to stay in shape.
Another simple one but a goodie. Try getting at least 7 hours a night and you will really notice the difference. Sleep helps improve your memory, give you more energy, better brain function, reduce stress and improve your skin so get as much sleep as you can.