Healthy eating is so incredibly important. Fueling our bodies correctly is what sets us up to face life, take on challenges and achieve all of our goals and dreams. So, keep on reading for 8 rules for healthy eating.
1. Load Your Plate with Vegetables
Vegetables are the really good stuff. Vegetables are full of healthy micronutrients, vitamins and carbohydrates that will keep you fuller for longer.
I like to suggest that you fill half of your plate with vegetables, a quarter with whole grains or legumes such as beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils, then the other quarter with a serving of a healthy, lean protein.
When I choose my vegetables, I like to pick based on the texture. I love crunchy, “fresh” tasting vegetables such as broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kale, and tomato. By changing up your vegetable choices, you’ll be able to keep it interesting and never get bored of what you’re eating.
2. Have a Plan
I always, and I mean ALWAYS write a shopping list. I find that if I go to the grocery store without a plan, I’ll buy junk. I’ll opt for whatever I’m craving at the time and that can end badly – i.e. in a trolley full of chocolate.
Browsing the aisles for inspiration will only land you buying more packaged foods and neglecting to buy good quality, fresh foods. I try to focus on buying the majority of my food from the perimeter of the shop where you find all of the fresh, whole foods. This also helps to avoid wastage which in turn, saves you money.
3. Minimise Processed Foods
I avoid processed foods for many reasons. One, because they can be pretty expensive and two, because they can contain so many hidden sugars and chemicals.
People don’t realise that just because a packet of crisps states “low carb” or a sauce says “no fat”, it doesn’t mean it isn’t high in sodium, sugar, artificial flavours, preservatives and more.
Processed foods can be packed full of many ingredients that are so detrimental to your health and labels aren’t always honest. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that all pre-made foods are bad for you but you do need to choose wisely.
4. Don’t Just Count Calories
Once upon a time, I made the mistake of starting to count calories. It isn’t so much the counting calories that was a bad decision, it was more-so the fact that I didn’t consider the nutrients that I was or wasn’t consuming.
When I started learning more about nutrition, I quickly realised that if I wanted to count anything, I really should be counting macronutrients and focusing on the nutrients and vitamins I am feeding my body as opposed to the calories.
Not all calories are created equal. Did you know that a 100-gram banana is equal to about 90 calories while 2 Oreos are also 90 calories? I think we all know which option is healthier and which will give up more nutrients.
Of course, it is important to treat yourself occasionally and within reason, but try to aim for the healthier, more nutrient-dense foods that are rich in the vitamins and minerals our bodies need to thrive.
5. Switch To Wholegrains
Carbohydrates as great – I am sure I can speak for all of us when I say carbs are delicious. Though, brown is definitely better. Complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, oatmeal and flours such as spelt, contain more fibre and nutrients than the more processed white grains.
Not only are they better for you – and in my opinion, much more delicious – but they also help keep you fuller for longer.
I love to eat a good, high-carb breakfast a couple of hours before heading to the gym to train because I find it gives me the energy to give my all in every workout but also helps me stay feeling full until I get home to refuel my body.
6. Eat Mindfully; Be Conscious
Eating mindfully is incredibly important. One of the reasons so many people struggle with over-eating is because no one is focusing on what they’re eating.
We’re all eating in front of the TV or while scrolling through Facebook. I do it more often than I should too; I will sit and eat dinner while watching YouTube and all of a sudden, I’ll realize that I am about to pop because I have eaten to a point that I am so overfull, I feel uncomfortable.
It’s important to sit and solely focus on the food you’re eating as often as you can.
Try preparing yourself a nice meal and sit there while you’re eating and focus on the textures, the flavours and the colours of your creation while really paying attention to how your body is feeling. Chew slowly and focus on whether you can still feel hunger pangs, or if you’re truly satisfied.
7. Enjoy Your Food
I feel like this is quite obvious but a lot of people have the term ‘diet’ stuck in their mind. Food isn’t solely to fuel your body. Food should be enjoyable to both cook and eat; delicious and nutritious. Instead of trying to eat “healthy” things that you don’t enjoy, aim to create a lifestyle where you make healthy choices that you can enjoy and that’ll work in the long-term.
Tip: You must find nutritious food that you can actually enjoy eating otherwise is simply isn’t sustainable.
8. Be Consistent
I’ve found that if I aim to eat my meals (generally) around the same times each day, I can maintain all of my healthy habits much more easily:
- By eating breakfast between 6 and 7 am, it allows me to do yoga or walk my dog beforehand and gives me time to get ready to head to work or class afterwards.
- Then, by eating lunch at about 1 pm, my food has settled enough so I can exercise at a high intensity at about 4 or 5 pm.
- Once I finish training, I can head home and refuel my body after my workout between 6 and 7 pm. My food has digested to a point that I feel slightly hungry when I am curling up in bed at the end of the evening. For more, that’s how I feel most comfortable when falling asleep.
Obviously, eating at different times throughout the day works differently for different people that are following different schedules. It’s important to find what works for you. Try eating in a consistent pattern for a week and see how it affects you and the other commitments you have.