• Penelope Wetton

Healthy Eating Hacks - Why should it be a chore?

What is the biggest problem people have when it comes to getting fit and trying to lose weight?

Food... Why does it have to be that the cheaper, tastier food is bad for us and the more expensive, less interesting food is the good stuff? I get it... It's annoying... But lets try and mix things up and get yourself into some good eating habits which will allow you to treat yourself once in a while to a nice slice of chocolate cake or an ice cream in the sun.

First things first lets stop worrying over food. People get so stressed out about what they're eating that they over think things and can't keep up the strict diet that they give themselves. No one wants to live off of kale alone, even if it is really good for you.

Make a list of foods that you like to eat in the following categories -

Carbohydrates - Pasta, Rice, Potatoes, Noodles, Cous Cous etc.

Proteins - Chicken, Pork, Sausages, Bacon, Fish, Tofu etc.

Vegetables - Carrots, Sweetcorn, Peppers, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Lentils, Beans etc.

The main reason for this is so that you can give yourself a variety of options without forcing yourself to eat foods that you're not keen on. All meals should have a variety of different types of foods including carbs, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. Now here are some easy ways to improve those meal choices -

Change to wholegrain - pasta/bread/rice etc.

This reduces the simple sugars and increases the complex carbohydrate levels in your food as well as providing a good source of fibre to help with your body's digestion.

Choose leaner meats - swap from chicken thighs to breast, cut excess fat off of bacon or pork, buy beef mince with lower % of fat.

People often tend to consume far too much fat in their diet so this easy way to reduce this will help to provide the body with a more reasonable supply. Too much fat can end up being stored around the vital organs as well as under the skin. It can also build up in your blood vessels in the form of LDL (low density lipoproteins) which are found highly in fried foods. These can increase your chances of suffering from a heart attack or even a blood clot leading to a stroke.

Cook with less oil - Use 1 calorie sprays and only use a few squirts at the beginning on cooking, then use natural juices to reduce sticking to your pan. If using oils try to use extra virgin as it is the first press of the vegetables therefore has less additives. Extra virgin olive oil is a good source of many vitamins. Storing in a dark coloured glass bottle helps to reduce the break down of these good vitamins and minerals. Maybe try cooking with coconut or avocado oil for extra flavour

Remember you can always have more - Only take as much as you know you will eat and no more. You can always take an extra serving if you are still hungry, but if you start with more on your plate you are more likely to eat until you are over-full so as to finish what you have taken. Also use a smaller plate or bowl. If you feel you need to have a full plate of food then filling a smaller plate will help you think that you're eating a larger portion, therefore helping you to feel like you're full after a smaller amount. Also, with a larger plate you are inclined to take more food and therefore often feel like you must finish it.

If you feel hungry you may just be thirsty - Your body is made up of up to 60% water so there's a very high chance that you may be mistaking feelings of thirst for the twangs of hunger. Food does contain water and therefore eating can often make this feeling go away for a short period of time, but it won't be long before they come back. Drink a large glass of water (this can be a cup of tea or a glass of squash) and give it half an hour. If you're still hungry it's time to have a proper meal or a healthy snack such as some fruit, vegetable sticks with hummus or maybe some wholegrain crackers with low fat cream cheese. Hydration is essential as most reactions that take place in your body need water to stay efficient. Always carry a water bottle with you in the car or when you're out and about. Especially in hot or humid weather where you sweat a lot and will need to replenish your water levels a lot more.

Last but most certainly not least shop around! Have a look online and in those magazines that you can pick up in supermarkets that give you ideas on new meals to try. After a long day at work often we don't have the energy to plan what to make for dinner so have easy meals on standby. Pre-make a bolognese sauce with fresh tomatoes, peppers and onion and freeze it. All you have to do is defrost, heat up and cook some pasta. But for those evenings where you have a bit more time and energy make the most of the ideas and mix up what you make. Try out a new salmon bake with potatoes and asparagus or maybe make a wholegrain risotto with mushrooms and peppers. You can always swap out ingredients you aren't keen on for things you like more.

Just remember my hacks for healthy eating. Let's make eating better easy. It shouldn't be about complete restriction it should be about finding what you enjoy eating and making it work for you long term.

I hope you've got some ideas from this; now go out and give them a try, and make sure to share any exciting recipes you find with friends and family for them to give a go too!

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