A balanced diet is a key contributor to living a healthy life, but maintaining it over the long term is by no means an easy feat. Social situations, emotions like stress, and even your environment can all throw you off track and lead you away from the path you want to be on.
With 63.8% of adults in England classified as overweight or obese, you’re by no means alone if you’re struggling to consistently eat healthily and shed some pounds. There are a few simple rules you can follow to help you make better decisions, though – and they don’t force you into a perpetual cycle of yo-yo dieting.
Focus on low-calorie/energy density
If a food has a high volume and low calories, it is classed as having a low calorie/energy density. Essentially, this helps you feel full without the need to ingest as many calories.
For example, the volume of 100g of grapes is significantly higher than the same amount of raisins. However, the grapes will only be around 70 calories while the raisins will be almost 300.
The British Nutrition Foundation has plenty of useful information that can help you understand the concept and find areas where you can make these permanent switches in your diet.
Understand your fats
First things first, fat doesn’t have to be bad for you. In fact, it’s an essential part of any balanced diet. The key is to understand the different types of fats and where you can get them from.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated
These are deemed healthy fats and should be consumed in small amounts. Nuts, oils, seeds and oily fish are all good sources and can help supply you with omega-3 and omega-6, which your body cannot produce.
The recommended amount per day (men): up to 95g
The recommended amount per day (women): up to 70g
Processed meats like burgers and sausages, hard cheeses and whole milk all contain these unhealthy fats. This doesn’t mean you have to cut them out, just eat them in smaller amounts and swap some of them for an unsaturated alternative on occasion.
The recommended amount per day (men): <30g
The recommended amount per day (women): <20g
Found in fried foods, biscuits and pastries, trans fats raise the levels of “bad” cholesterol in your body and also decrease the “good” cholesterol level. They are often listed on labels as hydrogenated fats or hydrogenated vegetable oils.
The recommended amount per day (men and women): <5g.
If you can limit the consumption of unhealthy fats, you can reduce the risk of heart disease and coronary artery disease and lessen the level of blood cholesterol.
The consumption of fruits and vegetables is necessary to get essential vitamins and minerals. These foods are rich in dietary fibre and low in calories. If you eat more fruits and vegetables, you do not need to eat high-calorie foods, such as cheese and meat. Another significant advantage of eating fruits and vegetables is that they can help to prevent cardiovascular diseases.
Eat whole grains
Whole grains can supply essential nutrients and fibre to your body and regulate blood pressure. Whole grains are also a heart-healthy diet. You should consume whole grains, such as barley, quinoa, or whole-grain farro, instead of refined grains.
Select low-fat protein sources
Some of the excellent sources of protein are poultry, lean meat, fish, eggs, and low-fat dairy products. You can also consume fishes that are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. This can help you reduce blood fats named triglycerides. Various vegetables are also excellent sources of protein, such as beans, lentils, and peas. As these vegetables contain no cholesterol and less fat, you can consume them instead of meat.
Make small changes in eating habit
If you think to change your eating habits completely, you may not be able to continue that. This is why you can focus on small changes and change all unhealthy eating habits gradually. Here are some examples of how you can change your eating habits-
- Instead of eating white bread, you can try whole-wheat bread.
- Instead of eating white rice, try brown rice.
- Eat whole wheat pasta rather than pasta from white flour.
- Try to eat low-fat yogurt and low-fat cheeses.
- Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit in your meals and snacks.
- If you are eating sandwiches, then add onions, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc.
- When you are eating cereal, add different fruits to it.
- Try to eat your meals more slowly.
- Try to avoid situations that trigger you to eat unhealthy foods.
- We also have a tendency to eat even when we are not hungry. You may notice that some specific situations or cues can trigger this tendency. Recognize those situations and try to find out ways to avoid them.
- You should also clean your dish before eating.
- Try to prepare a schedule for your meals and do not skip your meals.
The changes you make need to be ones that you can live with for the long term. Forcing yourself into a diet you don’t enjoy is unsustainable and could end up with you putting the weight you lost back on.
Try to keep things enjoyable. Buy yourself some new frying pans and cook a new recipe with some ingredients you haven’t tried before. You may discover a whole array of flavour and texture combinations that help you feel committed to staying on the healthy path. After all, if something is fun you are far more likely to keep it up!
Don’t drink your calories
Excess calories can be found in several drinks people have every day. Sugary fizzy drinks are chief among them, but also your favourite coffee may be less than ideal. There isn’t much nutritional value to these drinks, so try to find an alternative if you can.
Beware that diet fizzy drinks can interfere with your hunger cues and appetite, making you feel like you need to eat more. These are the seven crucial rules for healthy eating. By following these rules, you can make your eating habits better. Remember a healthy diet is essential for both your physical and mental well-being.