There is no greater blessing than being in the pink of health, yet more often than not, health is something we take for granted when we actually have it. So why not do our bit to help our bodies to continue to stay healthy and strong? The two most important points on our checklist for a healthful and robust life would be regular exercise and a balanced diet. Let’s begin by first focusing on the latter. By being just a little more mindful of what we eat, we can ensure that we are providing our bodies with the optimal conditions required to thrive and be the best version of ourselves.
Here are five simple tips you could follow to make your diet healthier:
- Increase your protein intake
Protein has a direct impact on your hunger hormones and is therefore the most filling of the macronutrients. Muscles are made up of protein and they are what determine your rate of metabolism. So a high protein diet ensures that you are adequately burning the calories you consume through your food. You could optimise your protein intake by adding at least one source of protein at every meal – nuts, eggs, dairy products, beans and lean meat.
- Incorporate starchy carbohydrates into your meals
One third of your diet should comprise of starchy carbohydrates like rice, potatoes, whole grain bread and cereal, pasta. Always choose whole grain over refined, and wherever possible eat fruits and veggies with their skin on. Contrary to popular belief, starchy foods are not fattening by themselves. It’s how you cook them and what you add as accompaniments that add to the fat content. Baking, grilling and boiling are the best methods to cook these foods and make sure you go easy on the oil and butter that is served with them, which brings us to our next point below.
- Control your intake of saturated fat and sugar
There are two types of fat – saturated and unsaturated. The former can lead to an increase in blood cholesterol and therefore put you at a risk of developing heart disease. The recommended daily allowance for saturated fat is 20g for women and 30g for men. Sources of saturated fat are cakes, biscuits, sausages, lard, butter, bacon, cheese and cured meats like salami. Make healthier food choices and opt for fish, vegetable oils in small quantities and lean cuts of meat.
Also cut down on sugary foods and drinks by avoiding packaged foods, fizzy drinks, sugary breakfast cereals and too many cakes and pastries. Check food labels for the quantity of sugar in that food. Anything more than 15g of sugar per 100g of the product constitutes high sugar content.
- Pick fruits over juice
Fruits are a powerhouse of nutrients and antioxidants, along with being excellent sources of dietary fiber. It is the fiber and other plant compounds present in the fruit that facilitate the digestion and absorption of the natural sugars they contain without causing any sudden spikes. Eating a fruit or two every day has long lasting benefits on virtually every system – from digestive to circulatory and even the immune system. Fruit juices on the other hand mostly always contain artificially added sugar and almost zero fiber which means that they do not enrich your body in anyway whatsoever and in fact end up depleting it.
- Drink enough water
We need to hydrate our bodies with sufficient fluids – doctors recommend 6-8 glasses of water every day. This fluid intake should be in addition to the amount of water we get from foods, not inclusive of it. Drinking enough water helps maintain a constant weight and reduces calorie intake. The trick is to replace other beverages, especially the sugary ones with water, which automatically cuts down on the number of empty calories you consume.
Slow and steady wins the race. Start by making one positive change to your diet at a time and then progressively work towards achieving the benchmarks you have set for yourself. A few other great habits include never skipping breakfast, making sure you are getting your daily quota of veggies and greens and remembering to eat your food slowly, chewing well before you swallow. The pace at which you eat has a great impact on how much you eat and how likely you are to gain weight.
What you eat today walks and talks tomorrow! Correct your diet today and reap the benefits of a fit and healthy future. Consult the Calorie Care website for more ideas on how to get a balanced diet that is as tasty as it is healthy.