Living a healthy lifestyle should be pretty simple to achieve. In fact, it should be as simple as knowing how much fruit and vegetables is needed on a daily basis and how to avoid too much of the bad stuff. This isn’t the case however. The wonderful world of the internet presents us with far too much information and just as many contradictions.
It’s difficult to know which foods we should and shouldn’t eat. In this article, we’re going to simplify it so that you can make the best choices for you and your family.
The Sweet stuff
Do desserts need to be eaten every day? Of course not! So, to make it really simple, reward yourself with a dessert once a week. If your dessert is healthy, such as fruit, then you can eat this every day after supper. Even though fruit contains natural sugars, fruit also has vital vitamins and minerals your body needs and an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, so eat away! This doesn’t apply to cookies, crisps (chips), fizzy drinks, pastries or cakes however. All of these ‘yummies’ must be eaten in moderation. If you can’t limit yourself to a handful of crisps, or one can of cola per week, you’re best not to have them in house at all.
Chocolate, and in particular dark chocolate (70% and higher) is super healthy!! Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants and a wonder aphrodisiac. Have a decaffeinated cup of coffee and a strip of dark chocolate as an alternative dessert after dinner.
Get rid of the fizz
To keep it sweet and simple – get rid of the fizzy drinks all together. In particular for the children! Fizzy drinks contact high volumes of sugar which are totally unnecessary. These drinks often contain dangerously high levels of HFCS which is considered to be a big no go. On top of this, think about what these types of drinks do to our teeth. All we can say it ‘it ain’t doing any good’. Stop it all together if you can!
Making healthy sweet stuff
Yes! Making more healthy lifestyle eating choices doesn’t have to be about getting rid of the sweet stuff completely. If you love cakes and pastries, then why not substitute plain white flour to brown or wholewheat flour instead. Wholewheat flour contacts lots of fiber and hasn’t been through stringent processing, so lots of the nutrients are still included. If you regularly make great cakes for your children or for schools then using wholewheat flour makes it easier for you to get the good stuff into kids as well as giving them a tasty treat.
Developing healthy food choices can also be about looking at eating habits from other cultures. Take Italy as an example. We all know that Italians love pasta but you can also choose for wholewheat pasta when making your next Spaghetti Bolognese. Wholewheat pasta takes a little more time to cook, so follow the instructions on the packaging. The Italians are also fond users of olive oil which is one of the healthier oils out there. Olive oil is rich in healthy fats such as Mono-Unsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA) which can help lower the risk of heart disease. You still need to be careful with the amount of olive oil you use, so use it sparingly over salads and add a small amount to wok your vegetables, meats, fish and vegetables when cooking. Italy isn’t the only country with healthy eating habits. Countries such as Greece, Lebanon and many African countries have diets which are rich in protein and minerals.
Healthy food, healthy mind
What you put in your body is what determines your mental state. Good nutrition is important for focus, concentration and mental agility. According to WebMD, a poor diet is linked to depression and ADD in teens. Our brains can either benefit or suffer from the foods we eat which is why we need to watch what things we put into our body. In making healthy choices, we also need to look closer at the packaging labels to understand what the healthy ingredients are. Now, we’re not asking you to cross examine every ingredient item in your shopping list, but we are asking you to look a little more than usual. For example, if you’re looking to increase the amount of wholewheat, then you’ll need to look further than the main sticker on the package. If something is truly wholewheat, then you should see this mentioned as the main ingredient. You can therefore expect to read “wholewheat or whole grain (100%)” on the ingredients list. If it says this then you can be sure you’re getting the good stuff. If the wholewheat or whole grain ingredient is less than 70%, then white flour may have been added – in which case you’re getting less of the good stuff.
The reason why we talk so much about whole grain and wholewheat foods is that these are great alternatives to foods with refined carbohydrates. You can find whole wheat alternatives to pasta, breads and rice easily. Take a look at this delicious recipe with brown rice bowl, for example. White flour foods taste good but miss important fibers and minerals that your body really needs.
We all have moments that we want that little something to eat throughout the day. This can occur between breakfast and lunch but also towards the end of the working day. This is quite normal after a day of concentrating hard on our jobs or studies but we mustn’t be tempted to grab sweets or pastries. Instead, treat yourself to a protein bar. Protein bars can easily be incorporated into healthy lifestyle choices. They’re handy to have with your for a variety to reasons. Not only are they quick to consume, they are also also healthy and tasty to eat. If you’re caught waiting in traffic or own a flight somewhere, these protein bars can really save the day until your next mealtime.
Let’s talk fat
You have good fat and bad fat and it’s the good fats we want to focus on here. Trans fats are considered highly unhealthy and cause a range of serious health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Saturated fats are debatable. So with that, let’s move onto the fats which have been proven to be good for us. These are Mono-saturated fats and Poly-saturated fats.
Mono-saturated fats are fats which can be found in avocado’s, olives, nuts and seeds. Poly-saturated fats can be found in walnuts, soy-milk, tofu and delicious fatty fishes such as salmon, tuna, trout, herring, mackerel and sardines. You’ll notice that these fishes also have strong tastes. If you want to go into detail and research how much mono or poly-saturated fats are in your food, then take a look at the Nutrition Data Self site. You can do a product search and see what kind of fats are in the products you buy.
Fruit, fruit and more fruit
You simply can’t get enough fruit and vegetable into your body. To make it a little more fun, why not try juicing? Juicing is easy. You simply add your favourite fruit and vegetables into a blend and give them a mix. Add a little bit of ginger for pizzazz and if you’re brave and like spicy ingredients, then a little chili pepper can make things more exciting! Try some of these juicing recipes to get you started.
Fries (chips) can be healthy too
Isn’t that great news! Being healthy and making better food choices doesn’t mean we have to chuck out all of our favourites. Every one loves to eat fries (chips) and you still can but making them yourself. It’s easy to do too. Just follow the recipe below.
Home made potato chips (fries) recipes (for 4)
– Set your oven to 170 degrees Celsius
– Grab 6 large potatoes and cut them in thick slices.
– Place them in a bowl of cold water and leave for 20 minutes. This will remove a little of the starch and make them crispier and healthier.
– After 20 minutes, drain them and dry them.
– The next step will be to get yourself a baking sheet, line with baking paper and lay your freshly sliced potatoes on the sheet.
– Sprinkle a little olive oil the slides potatoes and a pinch of salt.
Now that your oven is at the right temperature, add your slices potatoes to the over and bake for an hour. The oven temperature is quite low because we want the potatoes fries (chips) to be fluffy with a crispy edge to them. Baking instead of frying is so much healthier too!
Serve with a little bit of tomato ketchup. If you must use mayonnaise, opt for the healthier versions which are made with yoghurt.
You can alternate this recipe by using sweet potatoes instead. Sweet potatoes are full of goodness and naturally sweet. You can also make mashed potatoes with these.
As you see, there are several ways to stay healthy and make good food decisions without removing all of the yummy stuff from your diet. Its really all about eating in moderation. Some of us are great at this whilst others need to take stricter methods to avoid temptation. Find the best way that works for you!