Healthy food

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Healthy eating

Confused by all the conflicting dietary advice? These simple tips can show you how to plan, enjoy and stick to a healthy diet.

What is a healthy diet?

Healthy eating is not about adhering to strict restrictions, staying unrealistically thin or giving up the foods you love. Rather, it’s about feeling great, having more energy, improving your health and boosting your mood.

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be overly complicated. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the conflicting nutrition and diet advice out there, you’re not alone. It seems that for every expert who tells you that a certain food is good for you, you’ll find another saying the exact opposite. The truth is that while some specific foods or nutrients have been shown to have a positive effect on mood, your overall dietary pattern is most important. The cornerstone of a healthy diet should be to replace processed foods with real foods whenever possible. Eating foods that are as close as possible to the way nature created them can make a big difference to the way you think, look and feel.

With these simple tips, you can cut through the confusion and learn how to create and stick to a tasty, varied and nutritious diet that is good for your mind as well as your body.

The basics of a healthy diet

Although some extreme diets may suggest otherwise, we all need a balance of protein, fat, carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins and minerals in our diet to maintain a healthy body. You don’t have to eliminate certain food categories from your diet, but you need to choose the healthiest options from each category.

Protein gives you the energy to get up and go – and keep going – while supporting mood and cognitive function. Too much protein can be harmful for people with kidney disease, but the latest research suggests that many of us need more high-quality protein, especially as we age. This doesn’t mean you need to eat more animal products – a variety of plant-based protein sources can ensure your body gets all the essential protein it needs every day.

Fat. Not all fats are the same. While bad fats can ruin your diet and increase your risk of certain diseases, good fats protect your brain and heart. In fact, healthy fats – like omega-3 fatty acids – are vital to your physical and emotional health. Including more healthy fat in your diet can help improve your mood, boost your sense of well-being and even tone your waistline.

Fibre. Eating fibre-rich foods (grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and beans) can help you eat regularly and lower your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. It can also improve the appearance of your skin and even help you lose weight.

Calcium. A lack of calcium in your diet can not only lead to osteoporosis, but can also lead to anxiety, depression and sleep disorders. Regardless of your age or gender, it’s important to include calcium-rich foods in your diet, limit foods that deplete calcium and get enough magnesium and vitamins D and K to help calcium do its job.

Carbohydrates are one of your body’s main sources of energy. However, the majority should come from complex, unrefined carbohydrates (vegetables, wholemeal products, fruit) and not from sugar and refined carbohydrates. Avoiding white bread, pastries, starches and sugar can prevent rapid blood sugar spikes, mood and energy swings and fat accumulation, especially around the waist.

Switch to a healthy diet

Switching to a healthy diet doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. You don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to completely cut out foods you enjoy, and you don’t have to change everything at once – that usually just leads to cheating or giving up on your new eating plan.

A better approach is to make a few small changes at a time. By keeping your goals modest, you can achieve more in the long run without feeling deprived or overwhelmed by a major dietary change. Think of planning a healthy diet as a series of small, manageable steps – for example, adding a salad to your diet once a day. As your small changes become habitual, you can add more healthy choices.

Prepare yourself for success

Try to keep things simple to be successful. A healthier diet doesn’t have to be complicated. For example, instead of obsessing too much about calorie counting, focus on colour, variety and freshness in your diet. Focus on avoiding packaged and processed foods and opting for fresher ingredients whenever possible.

Prepare more meals yourself. By preparing more meals at home, you can be more mindful of what you eat and monitor exactly what’s in your food. You’ll consume fewer calories and avoid chemical additives, added sugars and unhealthy fats in packaged and takeaway foods, which can make you feel tired, bloated and irritable and exacerbate symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety.

Make the right changes. When you reduce unhealthy foods in your diet, it’s important to replace them with healthy alternatives. Replacing dangerous trans fats with healthy fats (e.g. replacing roast chicken with grilled salmon) will have a positive impact on your health. However, replacing animal fats with refined carbohydrates (e.g. replacing breakfast bacon with a doughnut) will not reduce your risk of heart disease or improve your mood.

Read the labels. It’s important to know what’s in your food, as manufacturers often hide large amounts of sugar or unhealthy fats in packaged foods, even in foods that are supposed to be healthy.

Focus on how you feel after eating. This will help encourage healthy new habits and flavours. The healthier you eat, the better you will feel after eating. The more junk food you eat, the more likely you are to feel unwell, nauseous or lacking in energy.

Drink plenty of water. Water helps to rid our systems of waste products and toxins, but many of us live dehydrated lives, leading to fatigue, lack of energy and headaches. It is common to confuse thirst with hunger. So if you drink enough fluids, you can also eat healthier.

Moderation: important for any healthy diet

What is moderation? Essentially, it means eating only as much food as your body needs. At the end of a meal, you should feel satisfied but not full. For many of us, moderation means eating less than we do now. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up the foods you love. For example, eating bacon for breakfast once a week can be considered moderation if you follow it up with a healthy lunch and dinner – but not if you follow it up with a box of doughnuts and a sausage pizza.

Try not to think of certain foods as “off limits”. When you ban certain foods, it’s natural to crave them more and then feel like a failure if you give in to temptation. Start by reducing portion sizes of unhealthy foods and eating them less often. When you eat less unhealthy foods, you may find that you crave them less or only view them as an occasional indulgence.

Think about smaller portions. Portion sizes have increased significantly in recent times. When eating out, choose a starter instead of a main course, share a dish with a friend and don’t order oversized dishes. At home, visual cues can help with portion sizes. Your portion of meat, fish or chicken should be the size of a pack of cards and half a cup of mashed potato, rice or pasta should be about the size of a standard light bulb. By serving your meals on smaller plates or in bowls, you can trick your brain into thinking it’s a larger portion. If you don’t feel full at the end of a meal, add more leafy greens or round off the meal with fruit.

Take your time. It’s important to slow down and think of food as nourishment, not just something to gulp down between meetings or on the way to pick up the kids. It actually takes a few minutes for your brain to tell your body that it has had enough food. So eat slowly and stop eating before you feel full.

Eat with others whenever possible. Eating alone, especially in front of the TV or computer, often leads to mindless overeating.

Limit snacks in the household. Be careful with the foods you have on hand. It’s harder to eat in moderation when you have unhealthy snacks and treats on hand. Instead, surround yourself with healthy choices, and when you’re ready to reward yourself with a special treat, go out and get it.

Control emotional eating. We don’t always eat just to satisfy hunger. Many of us also turn to food to relieve stress or deal with unpleasant feelings such as sadness, loneliness or boredom. But by learning to deal with stress and emotions in a healthier way, you can regain control over your food and emotions.

It’s not just about what you eat, but also when you eat

Eat breakfast and eat smaller meals throughout the day. A healthy breakfast can boost your metabolism, while eating small, healthy meals will keep you energised throughout the day.

Avoid eating late at night. Try eating dinner earlier and fasting for 14 to 16 hours until breakfast the next morning. Studies suggest that eating only when you are most active and giving your digestive system a long break each day can help regulate your weight.

Add more fruit and vegetables to your diet

Fruit and vegetables are low in calories and high in nutrients, which means they are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. Focus on eating the recommended daily amount of at least five portions of fruit and vegetables. This will naturally fill you up and help you cut down on unhealthy foods. A portion is, for example, half a cup of raw fruit or vegetables or a small apple or banana. Most of us need to double the amount we currently eat.

You may consider taking dietary supplements such as our Lida Green or Gold diet pills. They can help you boost your metabolism and cleanse the toxins in your body. You can also find more information about all our products such as Lipovon, Meizimax, Eve Slim and Appetite Stop on our website.

To increase your intake:

Add antioxidant-rich berries to your favourite breakfast cereal

Eat a mix of sweet fruits for dessert – oranges, mangoes, pineapple, grapes

Swap your usual rice or pasta side dish for a colourful salad

Instead of eating processed snacks, snack on vegetables such as carrots, sugar snap peas or cherry tomatoes along with a savoury hummus dip or peanut butter

How to make vegetables flavourful

While simple salads and steamed vegetables can quickly become boring, there are many ways to add flavour to your vegetable dishes.

Add colour. Brighter, more vibrantly coloured vegetables not only contain higher concentrations of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, but can also vary the flavour and make meals more visually appealing. Add colour by using fresh or dried tomatoes, glazed carrots or beets, roasted red cabbage wedges, yellow squash or sweet, colourful peppers.

Liven up salads. Branch out beyond lettuce. Kale, rocket, spinach, mustard greens, broccoli and Chinese cabbage are packed with nutrients. To add more flavour to your salad, drizzle with olive oil, add a tangy dressing or sprinkle with sliced almonds, chickpeas, some bacon, parmesan or goat cheese.

Satisfy your sweet tooth. Naturally sweet vegetables – such as carrots, beetroot, sweet potatoes, yams, onions, peppers and squash – add sweetness to your meals and reduce your cravings for added sugar. Add them to soups, stews or pasta sauces for a sweet kick.

Cook green beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and asparagus in new ways. Instead of boiling or steaming these healthy side dishes, try grilling, roasting or pan-frying them with chilli flakes, garlic, shallots, mushrooms or onions. Or marinate it in tangy lemon or lime before cooking.

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