Top tips for healthy eating to keep the doctor away
It’s Healthy Eating Week and as good a time as any to check your diet.
When you eat good fresh food, including plenty of fruit and vegetables, you are doing your body a favour. A sensible diet helps to keep cholesterol down and your blood sugar levels stable. Also, it reduces the risk of diabetes and cancer.
Health experts regularly warn about the dangers of eating too many processed foods. Of course, we are all aware of the prevalence of obesity. Let’s just look at the figures. The Health Survey for England 2016 estimated that 26.2% of adults are obese. NHS Direct reports that more than 10,000 hospital admissions are related to obesity.
While obesity is generally the result of eating too much unhealthy food, there are other factors. They include genetic influences – if your parents are both overweight. Or it could be a slow metabolism or hormonal imbalances. Stress also plays a part as food can become a coping mechanism.
Salad or apple pie
First, let’s look at the unhealthy foods. Obviously fast foods and takeaways and anything containing high levels of fat and sugar. But a big issue is where people ‘think’ they are eating something that’s healthy. Take this as an example, a salad from a certain fast food outlet has more calories than a piece of apple pie. How can that be? Well, the answer is that all those nourishing vegetables have been coated in dressing loaded with sugar.
And, there are plenty more examples of ‘hidden’ calories. It’s a good idea to check labels for sugar content. Especially those that are low fat. When you remove the fat, which accounts for much of the flavour, you must replace it with something else. Usually more sugar.
Healthy eating doesn’t have to mean a drastic change, just a few alterations can make all the difference.
Use smaller plates
Most dinner plates are around 12” in diameter. Try using one that is between 7” and 9” instead. You can still fill it, but you will be eating less.
Obviously, you need to be careful about what you put on these smaller plates. So, as mentioned above, you need to include more of our body’s good friends – fruit and vegetables. For example, say you are making a Shepherd’s pie. Simply add more vegetables to the meat.
Other healthier options include more natural salt, such as Himalayan and replacing cream with natural yogurt.
Fish is good for you
As a naturopathic nutritionist I often extol the virtues of oily fish as part of a healthy eating regime. Salmon, tuna and trout are good examples. Try and incorporate them into your diet at least once a week.
I realise there are those who really don’t like fish. If it is a big no, no for you, then I recommend a substitute. Native Elements fish oil, which is mercury-free, is a good option.
Good carbs, bad carbs
The body needs carbs and it’s important to pick the good ones and avoid the bad ones. Or, at least only eat them in moderation.
Good carbs include brown rice, grains and legumes. In other words, foods that still have much of their nutritional value still intact. The bad carbs are the processed ones that have been nutritionally altered, including removal of fibre. These are your typical fruit drinks, white rice, white bread, cakes and pastries. They tend to have an insulin-negative effect on the body.
Satisfying the cravings
From time to time we all get cravings, usually for something sweet. We want to comfort or reward ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with giving in occasionally. However, if cravings occur regularly, chromium is good little helper. It is the main constituent of glucose tolerance. It helps deliver sugar to the cells. I recommend at least 100-200 mcg twice a day, at the times when cravings are strongest.
Don’t forget the exercise
Yes, it makes sense to supplement healthy eating with regular exercise. If you’re not a gym-goer, quite a few of the parks now have exercise equipment. They’re free to use. The bonus is the fresh air, which is great for de-stressing and clearing your head.
So, do yourself a favour and change your eating habits today. Dad’s may want to wait until Monday in case there are treats (no doubt unhealthy) in store for Father’s Day.
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