Healthy eating isn’t about starving yourself, or counting and allocating calories. It’s about feeling great, having more energy and being good to your body. Healthy eating begins with learning how to ‘eat smart’ – it’s not just what you eat, but also how you eat. Your food choices can help reduce your risk of illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Furthermore, learning and practising the habits of healthy eating can boost your energy, memory and mood.
Healthy eating tip 6 — enjoy good fats and avoid bad fats
Good sources of healthy fat are needed to nourish your brain, heart, hair, skin .. basically every cell in your body. Foods that are rich in omega-3 fats are especially important and can help reduce cardiovascular disease, improve mood and help prevent dementia.
What to add to your diet:
- Monosaturated fats, from plant oils like canola oil, peanut oil and olive oil, as well as avocados, nuts like almonds, hazelnuts and pecans, and seeds like pumpkin and sesame
- Polyunsaturated fats, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, found in fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and cod liver supplements. Other sources include unheated sunflower, corn, soy beans, flaxseed oils, and walnuts
- Saturated fats, found primarily in animal sources including red meats and whole milk dairy
- Trans fats, found in vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, candies, cookies, snack foods, fried foods, baked goods, and other processed foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils
- Try different types of protein such as beans, nuts, seeds, tofu, peas and soy products, in addition to lean meat.
- Downsize your portions of protein. This sounds like a scary one but many people in Western cultures eat way too much protein. Try to move away from protein being the biggest portion of your meal and try to focus on having equal servings of protein, whole grains and vegetables.
- Focus on quality sources of protein such as fresh fish, chicken, turkey, tofu, eggs, beans or nuts. If you have meat, chicken or turkey, buy meat that is free of hormones and antibiotics.
Healthy eating tip 8 — add calcium to your diet
Calcium is one of the key nutrients the body needs to stay strong and healthy as it’s the building block for your bones and teeth.
- Dairy: Dairy products are rich in calcium in a form that is easily digested and absorbed by the body. Sources include milk, yogurt, and cheese.
- Vegetables and greens: Many vegetables, especially leafy green ones, are rich sources of calcium. Try turnip greens, mustard greens, collard greens, kale, romaine lettuce, celery, broccoli, fennel, cabbage, summer squash, green beans, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, and crimini mushrooms.
- Beans: For another rich source of calcium, try black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, white beans, black-eyed peas, or baked beans.
If you’ve succeeded in planning your diet around fibre-rich fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, lean proteins and good fats, you’ll probably find that you are naturaly cutting back on foods that get in the way of your healthy diet – foods high in sugar and salt.
Sugar causes blood glucose levels to spike and crash and can be a major contributor to health and weight problems. You may be consciously cutting down the amount of cakes and candy you eat, but you should also be aware that sugar can be quite a ninja, lurking in foods such as bread, canned soups and vegetables, pasta sauce, margarine, instant mashed potatoes, frozen dinners, fast food, soy sauce and ketchup.
- Avoid sugary drinks: a can of soda has about 10 teaspoons of sugar in it which is already over the daily recommended intake! If you’ve got a sweet drink craving, try sparkling water with a bit of lemon or a splash of natural fruit juice
- Eat naturally sweet food such as fruit, peppers or natural peanut butter to satisfy your sweet tooth.
As for salt, too much of it can cause high blood pressure and lead to other health problems. Try to limit your sodium intake to 1,500 to 2,300 mg per day (equivalent to 1 teaspoon of salt)
- Avoid processed or pre-packaged foods such as canned soups and frozen dinners.
- Be cautious when you eat out. Most restaurant and fast food meals are loaded with salt.
- Opt for fresh of frozen vegetables instead of the canned variety.
- Cut back on salty snacks like chips, salted nuts and pretzels.
- Choose low-salt or reduced-sodium products.
- Try slowly reducing the salt in your diet to give your taste buds time to adjust.