Food is not only our source of energy and nutrition, but also one of life’s greatest pleasures. The key to living a healthier lifestyle is not to give up all the delicious foods we love, but is rather about making small gradual changes that over time become a habit. You might just be surprised how tweaks to your diet and lifestyle rather than calorie counting can make a big difference, as it is more likely we will be able to keep them up long term. Choose easy ones to start with. Here are some top tips (or tweaks!) to help you get started.
By keeping portion sizes reasonable, it is easier to eat the foods you want and stay healthy. Many of us serve bigger portions that we need simply out of habit. Help control your portions by investing in smaller tableware such as bowls, plates and cups. Keep seconds out of sight by serving food in the kitchen rather than leaving it on the table. Eat slowly to help you recognise that you are full earlier so that you do not eat more than you need to.
A few subtle changes to your favourite recipes can make a big difference to you and your family’s health. Swap full fat milk or cheese for low fat. Reduce or leave out salt in recipes. Try flavouring with pepper, herbs or spices instead. Buy leaner cuts of meat & trim visible fat from meat. Remove skin from chicken. Grill, bake or steam rather than fry and if you must fry use healthier oils such as olive, sunflower or rapeseed instead of butter. Give sandwiches a makeover by using low fat spread, light mayonnaise or wholegrain bread. The goal is not to alter a recipe so much that you don’t enjoy it, but to make it as healthy as possible while still tasting delicious.
Healthy eating starts with great planning. You will have won half the healthy eating battle if you have a well-stocked kitchen, a few quick and easy recipes and plenty of healthy snacks such as fruit and low fat yoghurts to hand.
In today’s culture, many of us take in quite a large amount of our daily calorie intake outside of the home. If you eat out regularly, wise menu choices can make a big difference to your health. Avoid extras such as bread while you wait for your meal. Ask for salad dressings and sauces to be served on the side. Choose tomato based pasta dishes instead of creamy or cheese based ones. Swap chips for baked or boiled potatoes. If you are going to have dessert, choose lighter options for starters (such as salads or melon) or main course (such as grilled fish). Share starters or desserts.
Getting into the simple habit of reading food labels to compare foods can make a big difference towards achieving a healthy balanced diet. Front of pack Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) nutrition labelling is appearing on more and more packs which let you to see at a glance the percentage of your daily intake of fat, salt, sugar, saturates and calories in one serving of the food.
Liquid calories can slip by very easily. Many of us take in more calories from drinks during the day than we probably imagine. That latte, mocha or cappuccino at lunchtime can contain 300 calories and 15g of fat which is over 20% of your daily recommended fat intake, while fizzy drinks can contain 6 teaspoons of sugar per can. Ask for low fat or fat free milk in your latte & switch to a calorie free soft drink or water to save calories.
With today’s busy lifestyles many of us find it difficult to fit in ‘exercise time’. There are lots of ways to get active without setting aside special time for exercise. Take short walks throughout the day. Try a 10 minute walk in the morning, at lunch and after dinner. Get off the bus or train a stop or two earlier and walk to your destination. Walk to the shop for everyday items. Clean your house or garage or wash the car. Take the stairs instead of the lift. Play active games with your kids such as hop scotch or hide and seek.