Easy ways to eat healthier.
Have you heard the rumour that McDonalds intentionally pumps the aroma of fries outside of their restaurants? Knowing that your sense of smell is the strongest and most emotionally triggering of all your senses, they disperse eau de fries all around the neighbourhood, a scent purposefully designed to lure you inside on your way home from work.
And you’re supposed to go home and make your tasteless chicken breast and steamed broccoli – a meal that takes five times as long to make and is twelve times more expensive. Eating nutritious food is not easy in a world that celebrates everything junk.
It’s sad but true. Chances are, if you don’t make a conscious effort to eat well, you will end up eating badly. Two thirds (67%) of Australians are overweight or obese, and this figure continues to grow. You are not alone if you struggle with healthy eating.
Don’t worry though, once you’re in the habit of eating healthy, you’re on easy street. It’s the transition that’s the hard part.
Why should I care about eating well?
Your diet can influence some very fundamental things – both physically and mentally. Healthy eating can improve your mood and give you energy and strength to lead a full life. If you’re at risk of developing cancer, arthritis, heart disease or dementia, improving your diet may help to prevent or, in some cases, reverse these conditions.
How do I give up processed food? I try to eat healthy but it only takes a couple of hours before the cravings hit.
Like any other goal you have in life, progress takes perseverance, patience and planning. The most common mistake people make when transitioning to a healthier diet is that they underestimate how much food they need to eat.
I thought healthy eating was all about portion control? Everything in moderation?
Eating healthy doesn’t equate to eating less. Eat better, not less. The healthier your diet, typically, the more food you can eat without gaining unwanted weight. This is just one of the many perks of healthy eating. Make sure you have LOTS of healthy food on hand, so there is no need to reach for those ‘sometimes foods’ more often than the odd occasion. Keep healthy snacks in your cupboards, in the car and in your bag.
What are some healthy snack ideas?
There are so many healthy snacks on offer in the supermarkets these days. Check the ingredients to make sure your snacks are made from basic, whole food ingredients. My favourite snacks include pre-made health balls/bars, usually made from nut, date, cacao and shredded coconut combinations. I also love Mary’s Gone Crackers and hummus (choose one made with olive oil if possible).
You don’t need to turn into one of those obsessive people that stand in the supermarket reading ingredients for hours. You only need to quickly look at the ingredients once, then you’ll automatically know which foods to opt for next time you’re in the supermarket. I highly recommend you be aware of the ingredients in packaged foods that you eat regularly. I have a post coming about how to understand ingredients.
If the thought of reading ingredients horrifies you, snack on fruits or vegetables. You can’t go wrong there. A punnet of berries is nature’s chocolate box. I’m also a big fan of dipping carrots in peanut butter – have I lost you yet? Don’t diss it till you try it.
I’ve heard [insert fruit] is really high in sugar. Is it bad for me?
If it’s a fruit or vegetable, it’s extremely good for you. End of story.
The fibre in fruit and vegetables slows the absorption of sugar, meaning you don’t get the blood sugar spike that you would get with a chocolate bar. These foods also contain a whole bunch of other beneficial nutrients. Don’t spend a second more worrying about the sugar content of fruit or vegetables – in fact, eat as much as you can.
I buy healthy food, but it goes to waste! I constantly have rotting celery in the back of my fridge.
Plan. Your. Meals. Sometimes I don’t plan my meals, and what happens? I feel disheartened at dinner time and can’t make decisions because I’m tired and hangry. This reliably happens when I don’t plan ahead of time.
Write down Monday to Sunday’s breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. I like the magnetic meal planner pads from Kikki K because they make the process feel more glam and less neurotic. Factor in any social activities. Perhaps don’t buy food for the weekend if you’re always out. Tailor it to your schedule.
Go to the shop and buy ingredients for the whole week. Don’t buy extra things because you think they look nice. If they’re not on the plan, they won’t get eaten. Avoid shopping while hungry.
Store items together in the fridge based on which meal they are for. This helps you remember all the ingredients you need for that meal. It’s also good to keep your meal planner stuck to the fridge as a reminder of what you’re going to make. You can always swap meals if you’re in the mood for a different dinner that night.
Who needs Hello Fresh? This stuff isn’t rocket science.
I keep slipping up and ordering McDonalds. Help.
It’s okay. You’re allowed to eat whatever you want. However, if you find you’re doing this more often than you would like, why not try making your own version of your favourite junk foods? Homemade burgers are really easy to cook. You could even roast homemade potato chips on the side.
There’s no need to feel guilty or deprived through healthy eating. Enjoy healthy meals that are so delicious and appealing that you don’t look twice at junk food. Remember, you can always eat that burger if you want to. But do you really, actually want it? Does it give you energy and make you feel good? Or is it just the packaging, advertising and notion of it being ‘off-limits’ that fools you into desire?
When you pay attention to how healthy eating makes you feel, I guarantee junk food will lose its appeal.
How am I supposed to be satisfied by a few pieces of lettuce and tomato?
If you think healthy eating is all about suffering through bland salads and bitter smoothies, you’re doing it wrong.
How could anything be more delicious than a coconut vegetable curry, smashed avocado with sea salt and lemon juice, homemade Pad Thai or a delicious salty, cheesy, tomatoey pasta? If you aren’t eating healthy, you are missing out.
Don’t forget: the secret is in the seasoning. Use plenty of salt, citrus, herbs, vinegar, soy sauce and extra virgin olive oil (read about the benefits of this oil here). Explore different flavours and find what you love.
I’m a busy person, I just don’t have time to make healthy food.
Keep it simple. Being healthy doesn’t need to be time consuming. In fact, you want it to be easy, so you’re more inclined to do it. One of my biggest motivators for not ordering UberEats five days a week is the fact that it’s so much quicker to prepare my own food. Most of my meals contain basic ingredients and take less than 30 minutes to prepare. Less is more. Check out my Instagram if you’re interested in some meal ideas.
Another trick is to make more food at dinner so that you can have left-overs for lunch the next day. I can’t stand the thought of preparing two meals every single evening. I need time to watch trash TV while I soak in the tub. Din-lunch all the way.
Yes, it’s laziness that truly drives my healthiness.