7 steps to making better food choices
With the new year in full swing, many of us are trying to break our bad eating habits in exchange for a healthier lifestyle. And while this idea may seem overwhelming for some, just a few simple changes can make the world of difference. Here, therapist Sally Baker gives us her top tips on making wiser food choices…
Don’t let hunger hinder your determination
When hunger strikes it’s so easy to reach out and grab the nearest unhealthy snack, despite your best intentions of eating healthy. To avoid this happening, always have a couple of tasty, nutritional snacks in your bag when you’re out and about.
Knowledge is power
Watch out for foods marketed as healthy or low fat as they are often loaded with sugar – which is a disaster for our waistlines! By reading food packaging labels, you can easily spot which products are wholesome and nutritious and which are merely a gimmick. Look out for any words ending in ‘ose’ as this means sugar.
Taste the rainbow
Eat as many different types of fruit and vegetables as you can. Every different coloured vegetable has its unique type of beneficial micro-nutrients, from the vitamin K in dark green kale to the abundance of vitamin A found in carrots. At meal times, always aim for two thirds vegetables with a serving of protein – such as meat, fish, eggs, nuts or pulses.
Eating is your opportunity to take care of yourself and give yourself the best nutrition you can. Being relaxed and focused while eating allows your body to fully digest and absorb all the nutrients from your food. If possible, leave your phone in the other room at meal times and switch off any TVs or radios. When eating, be sure to chew everything thoroughly.
Preparation is key
Don’t just head to the supermarket with an idea of what you might want to eat that week. Create a meal plan for the week and then write a shopping list based on the ingredients you’ll need. Batch cooking is a great way to save time and pennies – it will save you a lot of cooking time through the week too!
Quality over quantity
Always try to source the highest quality ingredients where possible. This could be anything from line-caught oily fish, organic eggs, free-range chicken, grass-fed organic beef or atisan sourdough bread.
Spice it up
Replace or reduce the amount of salt you cook with by flavouring your meals with spices such as turmeric, garlic, chillies, cinnamon and cloves. The medical profession is researching into why people from the Indian subcontinent have lower cases of bowel cancer, thought to be down to a higher use of such spices. Try turmeric sprinkled on scrambled eggs, garlic as the base for home-made pasta sauces and cinnamon sprinkled over your morning porridge!
Be restaurant savvy
Don’t be afraid to quiz the waiting staff when you go out for dinner. Many a healthy menu choice has been derailed by an overly sweet sauce or creamy dressing. Ask for your meal to be served with the sauce on the side, or ask for side salad or vegetables in place of chips and jacket potatoes.
Sally Baker’s latest book How to Feel Differently About Food (£14.99, Hammersmith Health Books) is available to purchase from 10 January. Visit hammersmithbooks.co.uk to pick up your copy.