Hear are 6 very simple ways for you or anyone to be more healthy.
1. Learn to cook
Learn to cook tasty and healthy food. We’re not required to eat boring food to be healthy. In fact eating healthily should never be boring. We want our food to do us good (providing a source of energy and nutrients), but we also want it to be fresh, exciting and full of flavour. To eat healthy it is essential to learn how to cook great tasting meals.
Convenience meals are fine to have in on standby, to be used once in a while. But you shouldn’t rely on food companies to provide you with the nutrition you need. Learning to cook from scratch will allow you to control the amount of sugar, salt and fat you consume and reduce your exposure to artificial food additives, flavourings and preservatives.
Practice healthier cooking methods like steaming, poaching and stir frying and avoid making the mistake of viewing healthy eating as less pleasurable or a chore to eat. Eating should always be pleasurable, if you make delicious food from scratch using good quality ingredients, why would it be anything else. The health benefits from a nutrient rich meal are just a bonus.
2. Become a foodie
Become a foodie or food snob. Be fussy about quality, less worried about quantity. Develop a passion for great tasting locally sourced, seasonal produce (preferably organic). Learning to appreciate good food, the sort that can be found in a garden or farmers market will really help you in your quest to eat well. Vegetables should be flavoursome, fruit should be juicy and sweet.
Get educated on all aspects of food, from growing and sourcing to preparing and cooking. The more informed you are, the easier it will be to make good food choices. Add a little excitement by tasting new flavours and trying things you’ve never had before. Try lots of different varieties too. How can you say you don’t like tomatoes for example, if you’ve only ever tried one variety.
3. Eat natural
Eat natural and avoid highly processed food. Go for natural foods where ever possible, rather than processed or refined products. Be particularly weary of processed meat. This is thought to significantly increase the risk of colon cancer. Buy brown bread, pasta and rice rather than the white stuff or consume a mixture. If you aren’t keen on brown rice, you can cook some white and brown and combine the 2.
Use honey rather than cane sugar, chose natural yoghurt instead of flavoured (add your own fruit), butter instead of margarine (just use less), whole milk or 2% instead of skimmed (just use less), cooked chicken breast rather than reformed ham. Snack on pistachios rather than salty peanuts.
Avoid convenience meals and jarred sauces as much as possible and stay away from so called ‘low fat or ‘light’ products with added sweeteners. If trying to lose weight, you can still include some high fat items like butter/oil, just make it infrequent and use smaller amounts.
4. Aim for variety and colour
Eat lots of fruit and vegetables. 5 a day is recommended, but this is really the minimum amount we should consume. If we look at other countries, places where greater amounts of fruit and vegetables are consumed, they tend to have better health statistics than us, with far lower instances of heart disease and cancer. Of course, this is partly due to the absence of supermarkets (in some places) but mainly the absence of highly processed foods in most foreign diets and a greater reliance on fresh locally grown food.
Different coloured foods have different properties. The key to a good healthy diet therefore is a wide variety of different coloured foods, a rainbow diet. Put lots of different colours into your shopping basket, green leafy veg, red tomatoes, bell peppers, yellow bananas, lemons, brown bread, rice, pasta.
5. Pay a little more
Pay a little more to get a little more. When it comes to food, more often than not, you get what you pay for, paying a little more gets you a better quality product and often a healthier product. Mass produced food is cheaper, but the result of mass production is an inferior product in both flavour and nourishment.
Food that is lovingly produced in smaller batches is understandably more expensive, but produces a product with more flavour and more nourishment. A chicken with a good lifestyle, one with space to move around, one which is free range and fed on a nutritious diet of corn, produces a healthier bird, which in turn produces a healthier source of meat.
In the case of veg, the organic variety is better tasting, more nutritious and free from harmful chemicals. A good quality freshly baked loaf of bread, may not last 10-14 days after opening like supermarket varieties, but it will be without the preservatives which may bring health problems in the future. My advice, always buy the very best you can afford and you’ll see benefits in the long run.
6. Know your super-foods
Choose to buy items with high nutritional value. Super-foods are foods which are particularly nutrient rich. They contain plenty of the vitamins and minerals required for efficient functioning of body processes, but that’s not all. As well as being rich in vitamins, they usually contain phytonutrients too.
Eating foods packed with phytonutrients is a good idea as these are thought to help protect us against disease. It is believed phytonutrients found in certain plants can actually fight off and prevent the formation of cancer.
Research has shown there is a nutrient in sprouts for example which destroys most cancer cells. Superfoods are items like berries such as cranberries and blueberries, but they can also be found in green leafy veg such as broccoli, spinach and kale. It makes sense then to add plenty of super-nutrient foods into your diet.