The change of seasons is a great time to rethink old eating habits, make healthy food changes and start fresh. Say goodbye to old routines and lighten up with nutritious foods. Simple, small changes can make a big difference to overall health, well-being and weight loss.
Reduce your intake of certain foods
- Cooldrinks and sweet foods are loaded with sugar, which increases your risk of obesity and poor heart health.
- Avoid energy bars as they are loaded with sugars. Rather eat real food instead. Replace a sweet treat with fruit.
- Plain yoghurt with added fresh fruit reduces significant sugar intake (usually at least 4 teaspoons sugar per tub) compared with flavoured fruit yoghurts.
- Pureed prunes can be used as a sugar replacement in baking. The end result will be moist, sweet and delicious without using added sugar.
White and refined carbohydrates contain less fibre, vitamins and minerals than their wholegrain counterparts. Choose wholegrain and multigrain products wherever possible.
Generally all packaged and processed foods contain far more sugar, salt and trans fats than they should. Try to avoid these foods wherever possible.
Salt is an acquired taste and it is very easy to retrain your taste buds.
- Try adding salt at the table only and not during cooking to reduce your intake.
- Try herbal salts, which contain a lower concentration of salt hence reducing intake.
- Herbs, spices and seasonings are flavourful alternatives that taste delicious without adding unnecessary kilojoules and salt to a meal.
- Alcohol provides no nutrition and may cause you to make less healthy food choices while you are drinking it.
- The liver has to work hard to break down alcohol.
- Try sticking to the recommended limit of one unit for woman and two for men.
- Alcohol also acts as a diuretic so it is harder to stay hydrated. Try soda water or sparkling water for a change to plain filtered tap water.
Make better food choices
Add fruits and vegetables to your diet
- Try to include a minimum of five portions a day of rainbow coloured fruit and vegetables to ensure phytonutrient, vitamin and mineral intake.
- Make your diet more plant-based to reduce the risk of heart disease and promote health.
- Fruit and vegetables are rich in nutrients and low in calories. Focus on more vegetables than fruit.
- Eliminate carbohydrate at supper time and replace with vegetables. Start with swopping half the carbohydrate with vegetables.
- Vegetables are filling, nutritious and contain a low energy density – they are your best friend!
- Try new vegetables and stick to seasonal options.
- Wholegrains in moderation increase fibre intake and improve energy levels.
- Try some of the new grains you are less familiar with like wild rice, quinoa, millet or buckwheat.
Healthy vegetable fats
- Unsaturated (plant-based) fats are a healthy addition to any diet and they are delicious.
- Unsaturated fats include avocado, nuts, nut butters, peanuts, olives and olive oil.
- Seeds and seed oil contain essential fatty acids that are important for health.
- Nuts and seeds are more satisfying as snacks than low kilojoule options as they sustain you for longer. They will also not raise glucose and insulin levels.
- Try using mashed avocado instead of mayonnaise
Pre- and probiotics
- Prebiotics are a special type of fibre that supports digestive health by inducing the growth of beneficial micro-organisms. They are the fuel that allows probiotics to work. Foods rich in prebiotics include chicory root, garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus and banana.
- Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your digestive tract. They are often called “good” bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy. Probiotics are found in the following foods: yoghurt, buttermilk, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, tempeh, kombucha.
Decrease your portion sizes
- It is easy for portions sizes to increase over the colder winter months. Be aware of portion sizes.
- Dish up on a smaller plate
- Serve supper from the stove rather than the table.
Eat more mindfully
- Research has shown mindful eating can help with weight loss.
- Take the time to chew and notice the different taste and textures of every bite.
- You will eat less to feel full and enjoy your meal more.
- Try and eat slower and with less haste.
- Think about what you are eating before you eat it. This helps you tune into your body’s hunger and satiety cues which helps with portion control.
- Water is essential for all functions of the body.
- Replace cool drinks, iced teas, lemonade and fruit juice for water for some serious kilojoule savings.
- Add lemon, orange, ginger slices, mint, strawberries to plain water to ring the changes and add delicious low-kilojoule flavour.
- Make fruit ice cubes by pureeing fresh fruit in a blender and freeze in ice trays. Use the fruit ice cubes to make your own flavoured water with still, sparkling or soda water.
- Herbal teas work well as an alternative to water.
- Caffeine dehydrates and should be reduced. Replace coffee with green or Ceylon tea to reduce caffeine intake.
Plan a vegetarian meal once a week
- Give meatless Mondays a try. Even once a week a vegetarian meal will reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. You don’t have to avoid all meat and animal protein but just one vegetarian meal a week is a good place to start.
- Remember the focus is on increasing vegetable intake and not just avoiding the animal protein.
- One can also try to make one meal a day a vegetarian meal.
- It is all about increasing vegetable intake any way that you enjoy.
Cook more at home
- Cooking at home saves money, kilojoules and sodium!
- Use fresh ingredients and improve flavour with fresh herbs and spices rather than salt.
- Serve smaller portions and cook more vegetables.
- It requires more effort but the results of cooking for yourself is worth it, especially in the long term.
Plant a food garden
- Vegetables and herbs from the garden will add to variety in the diet and encourage more exercise.
- It is a great way to de-stress by caring for your own patch of earth.
- You will tend to use more herbs as they are less expensive if home grown. Increasing your intake of fresh herbs will improve many important functions of the body
- If space is limited try a window box or a container garden. Herbs require less space than vegetables.
Clean out your pantry
- Check your grocery cupboard for processed food in tins and boxes and replace with better options.
- Replace chips with popcorn or crudités (raw vegetable sticks).
- Be mindful of the junk food you keep in your pantry. Get rid of any trigger foods (foods that make you lose all control when you start eating them) and junk food that you eat out of convenience, not because you savour the taste.
- Try to re-stock your grocery cupboard with fresh, less processed foods. This gives you a better chance of not defaulting to processed food whenever you have the slightest craving.
Please consult your registered health practitioner before making significant changes to your diet or in-take of supplements.
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