The internet is full of articles on eating healthy. You should avoid this and eat that, make sure you get all important vitamins and minerals daily, avoid eating in fast food restaurants and drink more water. Balanced diet is important, they say. And all this you should manage while going to work, taking care of all daily tasks and maybe even having fun doing something else.
This is where many give up on healthy diet. “I have more important things to think about” is one of the most common reasons for giving up on eating healthier. However, there’s something you should know before giving up.
The thing is, eating healthy is not difficult. It’s actually very easy and here I introduce some tips which help you start a healthier lifestyle.
1. If you don’t know what’s inside the food you’re eating, don’t eat it.
Basically, avoid ready-made food sold at grocery stories and restaurants. If you can’t list the ingredients of the food by looking at it, you might be better of avoiding it. Basically, avoid preservatives and weird names in ingredient lists. I don’t say you should stop eating these completely: just avoid them when you want to eat healthy.
2. Use less salt and sugar.
And when I say less, I simply mean less with no specific amount. Just use these less and you’ll get used to food with less salt/sugar, and will probably automatically lessen the amount of these two even more. Of course, salt and sugar are not the only demons you should avoid but starting with these two is already a big change.
3. Do not substitute sugar with artificial sweeteners.
In my opinion, this is the worst thing you can do. Not enough research has been done on artificial sweeteners yet so we don’t know exactly how bad they are for us. So far it has been realized that some artificial sweeteners might contain carsinogenes causing cancer and many might alter your blood levels and cause diabetes or obesity.
4. Try cooking everything by yourself, from scratch.
You might be already doing this – if you are, this blog post might not be for you. Try cooking everything you eat from scratch, as in, cut vegetables by yourself and don’t use ready-made sauces. I understand this might be difficult or even impossible to some of us but for most us, I think it is. The harsh truth is that some of us use the fact that they are busy as an excuse. When I stayed in a Japanese host family, my host mother always made the dinner. She also worked and visited her mother’s house everyday to take care of her. Every single day, she came home at 7pm and made dinner – from scratch.
If you really don’t have time for cooking everyday, make a lot of food at once and store it in a freezer.
5. Do not avoid fat too much.
Fat itself is not bad for you. It’s bad for you when eaten in too great quantities. What also matters is the quality of the fat. I personally love olive oil, nut oils and coconut oil the most but I also like using butter when I’m baking. The butter I’m using is natural with nothing unnecessary added and I think it’s a lot better choice than any margarin you can choose.
By the way, for those trying to lose weight: in a Japanese tv program I watched some time ago, they said that you should include fat in your breakfast. This apparently boosts your metabolism.
6. Eat more fruit and vegetables.
I’m sure you have heard about this one before but one of the easiest and less painful things you can do to eat more healthy is to eat more fruit and vegetables. It’s not difficult to include some lettuce, carrots or tomatoes in your meals and it’s even easier to eat some bananas or apples between your meals. Also, for those who think vegetables don’t taste good: you just haven’t eaten them in a tasty way. Chicken doesn’t taste good either if cooked by a person who doesn’t know what he should do with it.
7. Don’t label foods as “bad” or “good”.
You can continue eating fried chicken or french fries even if you start a more healthy lifestyle. It doesn’t even mean that you should limit them to a few days in a month: in the end, it’s all about the balance. Actually, instead of avoiding fried food I would actually advise you to just be more attentive on additives and artificial flavorings used in your food. You should also remember that not everything sweet is necessarily bad for you: dark chocolate, for example, has been proved to protect you from many diseases. Honey has many health benefits as well (remember to by one with only honey inside it though).
8. Pay attention to the balance of carbohydrates and protein.
Sometimes I eat only noodles, rice or spaghetti with a very little protein for lunch. It fills me for a little while but after a few hours I get really hungry and annoyed if I don’t eat something – usually this “something” is something not very healthy, like a small cream-filled bread full of additives bought from a nearby convenience store. I honestly can’t understand how some people survive on just noodles, rice, potatoes or other carbohydrates – I need meat, beans, eggs, anything with protein in all of my meals. Besides, according to quite a number of researches everyone else should make sure they get enough protein too. I won’t tell you to stop eating carbs but make sure you get protein and vegetables as well.
I personally love so-called unhealthy food as well, eating something sweet everyday as well and I still think I’m leading a healthy lifestyle. Only thing I try to avoid as well as possible is artificial sweeteners (expect a little amount of xylitol gum everyday).
It’s all about the balance and about what you are eating – not about the foods you have banned from your menu.