Thought eating healthier required a major diet overhaul? Think again. Here are ten easy, teensy changes anyone can make for huge health benefits.
1. Use olive oil
The monounsaturated fat contained in olive oil can potentially lower your risk of heart disease by decreasing your overall cholesterol levels. Additionally, olive oil is rich in antioxidants, compounds that fight the damaging effects of free radicals on your body. Plus, it tastes great.
2. Get your portions right
It’s easy to brainlessly pile food onto your dinner plate, but following this simple guide can help you to not only eat the right portion amount, but the right combination of foods as well. Fill one half of your plate with non-starchy veg (or fruit) of your choice. Then fill the two remaining quarters with starch and protein respectively, such as beef and potatoes, or chicken and brown rice. It’s a rough guide, but it’s effective.
3. Turn off the TV
Researchers at the University of Birmingham found that diners who are distracted while having a meal consume far more unhealthy snack food afterwards than those who are paying close attention to what they eat.
4. Brown is best
And no, we don’t mean frying your food to a crispy brown, we mean wholegrain. Whether it’s wholewheat bread or pasta, brown rice or legumes such as lentils and chickpeas, choosing wholegrain foods adds a big dose of fibre to your meal and helps you cut down on refined carbs.
5. Hold the salt
Rather add spices and herbs to improve the flavour of your food. And while you’re at it, avoid cooking with soy or Worcestershire sauce and products that contain MSG, as they’re they are also high in sodium (that is, salt).
6. Introduce Meat-free Mondays
Or Tuesdays, or a whole bunch of meat-free days. While red meat can be healthy in small doses, you have to be careful to limit your fat and cholesterol intake. If you enjoy the taste of red meat and don’t want to completely cut it out of your diet, research suggests that a 100g serving is about the maximum you can consume each day to avoid greatly increasing your disease risk.
7. Ditch dessert
Sugar cravings often strike after a meal, despite feelings of fullness. Habits, brain chemistry and your diet’s makeup cause you to crave sweets. The problem is, we eat desserts crammed with refined carbs, fat and sugar – which wreak havoc on our blood glucose levels – as well as ‘empty kilojoules’. Rather opt for a fruit salad, or even a block or two of dark chocolate after dinner to satisfy cravings.
8. Forget frying
Fried foods are full of unhealthy fats that can increase your cholesterol. Roasting, steaming or poaching food is a far healthier option.
9. Eat a salad first
Or, in winter, vegetable soup. Eating salad before your meal can help to reduce your appetite, which can help you cut kilojoules and reduce your saturated fat intake.
10. Have that glass of wine
The results of various studies have suggested that red wine helps to lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease. Easy now – one to two glasses a day will do the trick.