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A healthy diet does not have to be boring, tasteless or monotonous. Here we list eight simple habits you can work into your daily life while eating tasty, healthy meals at the same time.
Good eating habits can be introduced step by step into our lives to gradually change your figure, improve your confidence, and boost your well-being.
Although inherently associated with calorie counting and hunger, in reality, the change to a healthy diet should be based on positive habits that feel rewarding rather than punitive.
A healthy lifestyle requires patience, discipline, consistency and knowledge about what we eat. Unfortunately, very many people have the wrong idea about healthy eating habits and make many mistakes without even realising it.
There are still plenty of myths out there about healthy lifestyle and nutrition. For example, did you know that products marked as ‘light’ or ‘low fat’ or ‘diet’, while very popular, sometimes replace fat with sugar instead? Check that your ‘diet’ foods really are better for you and don’t just replace one thing with another.
There are also many people out there telling you to fast, to eliminate whole groups from the diet, or to keep a calculator on-hand to count those calories. And while there’s truth in the fact that fewer calories in usually translates to weight loss, that’s hardly a sustainable habit if you’re always hungry.
Likewise, elemination diets can have some health benefits for those with dietary intolerances or allergies, in the long-run, they can lead to malnutrition or deficiencies.
Specialists usually agree that a healthy diet is balanced and varied, containing elements from all the food groups, put together in the right proportions.
1. Healthy habits – varied, but in moderation
One of the secrets to a healthy diet is its variability. This means getting a mix of protein, fat and carbohydrates from meats, vegetables, starchy root vegetables or healthy pasta, calcium-rich foods and whole grains.
You should not feel hungry between meal times. If you do, you’re doing something wrong, and it may be due to the balance of ingredients on your plate. Try add in more protein and carbohydrates to see if that makes you feel sated for longer. Make sure that at least a third of your plate is filled with fruits or vegetables of varied colours to make sure you’re getting your vitamins and minerals.
Some people prefer to eat five smaller meals throughout the day, rather than three large ones, but ultimately how much you eat should be dictated by what your body needs. Eat enough that you feel full at each meal, and don’t force yourself to eat more. Try not to pig out if you can, and there will be no need to count calories.
Having a routine for when you eat is really important, because it’s less likely you’ll be hungry between meal times. If you’re still hungry between meals, consider having a healthy snack such as fruit or vegetables, or consider if your meals are too spaced out or are at irregular times of day.
2. Don’t give up fat entirely
Many people who are just beginning to change their eating habits mistakenly believe that it is necessary to completely give up fat. Fat does indeed provide a lot of calories, but the complete elimination of it from the menu is a serious mistake.
Our bodies need fat for various essential processes in the body. Completely eliminating it can cause problems. Fat is also good at making us feel full, so a small amount goes a long way in a balanced meal.
It is worth choosing healthier fats, though. These include omega oils, which you will find in products such as:
• olive oil
• an avocado
• seeds and grains
• fatty fish
Healthy fats will nourish your body and your brain, and help you feel fuller for longer.
3. Vary your protein intake
Daily protein is necessary for the proper functioning of the nervous system and maintaining adequate muscle mass. Although animal-derived proteins are most readily available, there are vegetable proteins too, and the best diets will vary the two.
Animal proteins contain a lot more fat, which can cause digestive problems. On the other hand, plant proteins are an additional source of fibre, antioxidants, and nutrients that help rebuild healthy gut flora.
Including more vegetable proteins in your diet can really help your diet.
4. Limit your sugar intake
Sweets and all other sources of refined sugar are the main saboteurs when it comes to your health and weight. These types of products are the main cause of metabolic disorders such as diabetes and can rot your teeth as well.
The more sugar you consume, the more you become addicted to it, so if you want to change your habits to healthier ones, limit your consumption first and read the labels carefully.
Where possible, replaced refined sugars with naturally occurring sugars (e.g., use fruit such as dates and figs to sweeten dishes or use honey, which has excellent antimicrobial and anti-allergenic benefits).
5. Limit salt intake
Excessive salt intake is a major cause of health problems such as fluid retention, inflammation, and hypertension. Most of us consume up to five times more salt than the recommended daily amount.
As healthy eating habits do not necessarily mean boring and bland meals, replace salt with healthy spices – herbs, vinegar, turmeric, garlic and cayenne pepper.
You can also buy ‘low-salt’ alternatives, which usually replace some of the salt with potassium or other electrolytes. These may help you reduce your salt intake without cutting out the flavour entirely.
6. Drink plenty of water
Nutritionists recommend drinking at least eight glasses of water a day. Don’t drink it all at once, of course, but sip throughout the day to keep your body replenished.
Water is a drink that best hydrates the body, affecting its optimal functioning. What’s more, water limits the negative impact of free radicals that damage the condition of our skin.
7. Choose organic products (where possible)
Organic products tend to be more nutrient-dense than other foods – they are generally unprocessed and have not been in contact with harmful preservatives or pesticides.
Take organic, free-range eggs versus battery-farmed eggs. The former have yolks that are generally a darker yellow or deep orange, while battery hens produce eggs with a pale yellow yolk instead. If you have a choice, eggs with darker yolks are more nutritious than those with paler yolks.
Of course, organic foods are usually more expensive, so you need to factor this into your budget and decide whether they’re right for you.
8. Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables
Raw fruits and vegetables will provide you with the most nutrients beneficial to your body. Eating them regularly will improve your digestion, cleanse your body of toxins and lose weight.
However, even tinned, dried or cooked fruit and vegetables will help, too.
The best advice is to mix the colours: go for reds, oranges, yellows, greens, purples, blues, blacks, pinks and whites. Mixing the colours in this way ensures a variety of vitamins and minerals are consumed.
About the author
Jenoline Sneha is a content writer from Solutiontales.