I am against diets. The main reason for this is that they are not sustainable, and usually too restrictive. Food is a major part of life, and is supposed to be enjoyable. This doesn’t mean giving yourself free reign to eat & drink whatever you want. Instead, it’s about living a healthy lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong; healthy living may require making changes to your diet. This is a big topic, and the extent & type of changes depends on the individual. However, there are some changes that I think everyone can try to incorporate to start living a healthier life.
Choose whole grains
Buy whole wheat pasta vs. white and brown rice & quinoa vs. white rice, and whole grain bread (Dempsters is a healthy choice) vs. white. Whole grains are full of vitamins & minerals, and are high in fibre, which will keep you feeling full longer. White carbs are refined & processed and have no nutritional value; leaving you hungry again soon after.
Choose mustard (low in cals & fat) or hummus (high in vitamins & protein) vs. mayo (high in fat)
Choose avocado vs. cheese – avocado has a creamy texture, unique flavour & is loaded with vitamins & healthy fats. Try it – you won’t even miss the cheese!
Choose natural peanut butter vs. regular p.b. Natural p.b. has one ingredient: roasted peanuts. Regular peanut butter is high in sugar and trans fats.
Choose real fruit instead of jam. Jam is basically sugar. Try topping your toast with natural peanut butter & sliced banana, fresh blueberries, raspberries or strawberries.
Choose real maple syrup vs. processed. It’s still sugar, and should be used in moderation, but it’s natural; with one ingredient – making it a healthy choice.
Eat more fish
Fish is one of the healthiest protein choices out there. It’s high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are so important for heart health & brain processes (helps prevent memory loss & dementia). Salmon, sardines, mackerel & herring are the highest in Omega-3, and the lowest in mercury. Try canned sardines on crackers – makes for a great savoury snack!
Protein doesn’t always mean meat
Try cooking vegetarian once a week. When you combine a legume (beans, lentils or peas – frozen organic peas are the best!) with a whole grain (quinoa, wheatberries, brown rice or brown rice pasta) you get a complete protein! The next time you make chilli, substitute the meat for brown rice pasta, or make fajitas with black beans & whole wheat tortillas.
Steam vs. Boil
The less water you use to cook your veggies the better. Steam your broccoli, squash, celery, or carrots for 3-5 minutes or until they are still a little crunchy. This will ensure that you retain more of their vitamins & minerals instead of boiling them all away.
What colour is your food?
When you sit down for a meal, do you see lots of colour on your plate, or mostly brown? A good rule of thumb – healthy food is colourful (ex. Salmon, broccoli, sweet potato), unhealthy food is brown (ex. Chicken nuggets, breaded fish, French fries).
What does your plate look like?
Half your plate should be vegetables (steamed or raw), a quarter should be protein & the other quarter should be whole grains.
Eat local & organic produce and meat whenever possible
Use the Dirty Dozen list as a guide for buying organic produce, and take advantage of local, seasonal produce. Fruits & vegetables that travel long distances are high in chemicals to prevent them from spoiling. Buy organic or free-from poultry & red meat that are raised according to organic standards. It’s more expensive, but perhaps that means eating meat less often, which is better for you anyways!
Don’t deprive yourself
Let yourself have dessert or a glass of wine, but in moderation. If you deprive yourself; you will end up overindulging when tempted.
Incorporate regular exercise into your schedule. Walking, jogging, weight training, exercise classes, team sports, skiing, swimming – whatever you enjoy. Try to exercise at least 3 times per week.
Read the health section of the newspaper; subscribe to nutrition blogs (like mine!) and get educated about nutrition.
“The definition of insanity: to keep doing the same thing and expect different results.” Make some changes, and start living a healthier life!
If you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org