Eating healthily does not need to be as difficult, or as expensive, as you might be thinking. In fact, sometimes you will not need to change your diet much at all – changing the way in which you cook the food can have a dramatic effect on how healthy your meals are. Getting into the habit of cooking fresh produce is also going to be helpful for you.
Meat and fish
For a healthier diet, it is better to cut down on the amount of red meat you consume. It is still a good idea to have red meat occasionally, as it is an excellent source of iron, which is important for the production of red blood cells. However, white meat such as chicken or turkey contains less fat. Choose cuts of meat that are lean, or remove the skin from poultry before cooking or eating.
Fish is often a healthier choice than meat, and oily fish such as salmon or tuna contain high levels of omega 3 fatty acids, which are important for your overall health.
Meat and fish can be cooked under the grill, which is great because it does not add any fat to the food. It also takes less time to cook than some other methods of preparing food. Stir frying is also a healthy method of cooking because it is quick, and very little fat is used. The oil you use for stir frying should ideally be a vegetable oil.
Fats and oils
This is an easy switch to make when you’re cooking, and it will make a huge difference to the overall quality of your diet. Substituting a vegetable oil of your choice (and there are many different ones easily available) for saturated fats such as butter is a much healthier alternative, and also provides essential nutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids. It will also mean that more of the fat-soluble vitamins will be absorbed by your body, which is important to maintain your health.
Fruit and vegetables
It has been widely publicised that everyone should eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day. A portion is approximately a handful, and ideally the fruits and vegetables should all be different.
Fruit juice does count, but only for one portion each day, regardless of how much you drink. It is a good idea to choose fruits and vegetables that are different colours, as this indicates they contain different essential nutrients.
Selecting the fruits and vegetables that are darker shades is also advisable, as this means they contain larger amounts of nutrients. The important thing to remember when preparing fresh vegetables is to try and retain as many of the nutrients as you can.
Scrub the vegetables instead of peeling them, since the skin and the region just underneath it is where many of the vitamins and other anti-oxidant compounds are found. Removing the skin means, you are losing much of the benefit of eating the vegetables in the first place. It is also extremely important not to over-cook. Try steaming or stir frying instead of boiling – these are much healthier cooking methods.
The most important thing to remember is to vary your diet as much as possible, and also to keep it balanced. You need to include all of the major food groups. Yes, you may be trying to eat more healthily, but that does not mean cutting out all fats from your diet, as some are essential for the body. Likewise, do not try to eliminate carbohydrates completely. Instead, try these tips for reducing carbohydrates in your diet:
Substitute brown rice for white rice, and wholemeal pasta for the regular variety. These changes introduce more complex carbohydrates into your diet, which are broken down more slowly and as a result take longer to release the energy. They also contain more fibre and fewer calories.
Start reducing your portion sizes when preparing foods like rice, pasta and potatoes. Instead, increase the amount of protein and vegetables you eat instead, to make up the difference.
You should also limit the amount of sugary food and drink you consume. Don’t cut them out completely, or you will be even more tempted to binge when you do have the opportunity, but don’t have them more than once or twice a week. Snack on fruit or nuts instead, as these contain less sugar and more essential nutrients that your body requires.
Eating healthily does not have to be difficult or boring – there are so many different foods available that you could try as alternatives to some of the more fatty meals you currently eat. Experiment with different flavours and spices, different cooking oils; try fruits and vegetables you have not eaten before. Try cooking the same foods using a different method – you may find that they taste completely different as a result.