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Healthy eating made simple

· healthy eating,mindful eating,healthy lifestyle,Katie Shore,nutritionist

We all know that we should be eating healthily - lots of vegetables, a little bit of fruit, some good quality protein and some healthy fats. That’s the easy bit. What is a little harder is being consistent with our diets and making sure that we stay healthy for the majority of the time. Most of the time I work to an 80/20 rule. 80% of the time aim to be healthy and 20% of the time allow yourself some indulgences and treats.

As the festive seazon is just gone, now is the time when even the best of us find our healthy habits being derailed in favour of a festive treat with every meal, and extra snacks in between. My solution? Keep it simple!

Often healthy eating can seem daunting or hard because there are so many confusing messages about what to eat, how to eat and even when to eat. And when we are faced with too much choice we make poor choices, like falling face-first into that plate of cake, or eating our body weight in processed carbs because the alternative of having to actually think about which vegetables are in season, or whether you’ve got time to make a pasta sauce from scratch tonight, or can you afford organic cheese this month becomes overwhelming.

So to help you stick to your healthy eating intentions for the New Year, below are some of my easy tips to keeping healthy eating simple.

  1. JERF - Just Eat Real Food

The principle behind JERF is the act of eating real food - and by ‘real food’ I am talking about ingredients. Nothing ready assembled (like a pre-packed sandwich) or a ready meal that you simply heat up. I am talking getting back into the habit of eating plants, vegetables, fruit, herbs, dairy and meat. These are the things that you need to cook or assemble yourself in to an edible meal.

I appreciate this can seem quite daunting but to by asking yourself these quick questions you’ll find you automatically make better choices in the supermarket:

  • Did it come out of the ground (plants/ veggies/ herbs)
  • Did it have a mother? (animal protein)
  • Would my Grandmother recognise it as food? (pretty self-explanatory – she always cooked from scratch and used fresh vegetables wherever possible)

The easiest way to do this is to take things back to basics. Swap out the ready-made pasta salads, or processed pies and start making these things yourself – they are easier (and cheaper) than you think, and your body will instantly thank you.

  1. Snack sensibly

When you need to snack try eating (whole) fruit, nuts, yogurt, cheese, boiled eggs or homemade protein bars instead of shop bought items you would traditionally find in the snack aisles. Often the ‘healthy’ granola bars and ‘breakfast biscuits’ are simply packaged sugar and are usually no better than your average chocolate bar.

Switching up your snacks can make a big difference to how you feel throughout the day. I’m a big fan of carrying small packets of nuts, nuts, seeds, small blocks of cheese, popcorn, an apple, some carrot sticks and olives around with me when I know I’m having a long day or there is likely to be a lot of unhealthy food about. I have been known to carry about a mini pot of hummus but I realise this isn’t for everyone!

  1. Bring your food with you

One of the easiest ways to stay on track with your healthy habits is to bring you own food with you. Instead of eating out why not try making a packed lunch? I am a big fan of cooking once and eating twice – taking in my leftovers to re-heat and eat for lunch.

If you have no time for a ‘proper’ meal you can still take in separate ingredients and assemble a meal. For example, combine some meats, cheeses and vegetables with a side of hummus for a quick but nutritious lunch option.

The same applies to breakfast. Make some ahead of time and take with you. I have some great ideas for quick and healthy make ahead breakfasts on my blog here (https://katielshore.wordpress.com/2017/08/23/quick-and-easy-make-ahead-breakfasts/) which take less than 15 minutes and once you’ve made them once you have breakfast sorted for the next few days.

  1. Crowd the bad stuff out with the good stuff

Instead of thinking ‘oh I can’t have that packet of sweets/ cake/shortbread’ instead try to add in healthier foods which contains good fats and protein into your existing meals. This will make you feel fuller for longer and you will be less likely to want to snack on something unhealthy.

For example, try adding in some extra nuts to your breakfast in the morning (a small handful, don’t go crazy) or an extra dollop of yoghurt to your usual portion size. Or at lunchtime why not add in half an avocado to your salad, or some hummus to your plate.

Adding in the odd healthy item to each meal won’t feel like an arduous task but you’ll soon notice that you won’t be craving the sweets and treats as much, if at all. This also works well when you’re in the grip of a craving and can’t think of anything else. In these instances I reach for a healthy snack first (yoghurt and berries, hardboiled egg and spinach or a handful of roasted chickpeas) first and then if the craving remains or resurfaces then I can chose to eat something less than virtuous and eat it mindfully rather than because I’m about to go over the edge if I don’t have chocolate now, now, now.

  1. Be mindful of your sugar intake

So I think we can agree that we all know we should be reducing the amount of sugar we are consuming. But doing this, in reality, can sometimes be confusing and you end up eating *more* more sugar than intended, which defeats the object and can be morally deflating. This is especially true over the Christmas period when there are treats everywhere. Often it is not the ‘obvious’ sugars that de-rail us (like cake or chocolate) but the ‘natural sugars which can sneak up on us.

A couple of easy things you can do to minimise your sugar intake is :

  • Cut out ‘low fat’ versions of foods. Contrary to their promise of being better for you, low fat versions of products are actually stuffed full of sugar and other junky ingredients. When companies remove the fat content they have to replace the taste and texture with sugar to make the food palatable again;
  • Reduce the amount of dried fruit and fruit juice you are eating - When fruit is dehydrated (the water is removed) the sugar levels are sent rocketing. Those super sweet raisins in your muesli aren’t the best idea first thing as they’ll give you the initial sugar spike and then leave you craving more later in the day.
  • Reduce the amount of fruit juice you are drinking – Fruit juice has traditionally been labeled healthy. And whilst it does contain some vitamins, you might be shocked to learn than a glass of apple or orange juice contains the same sugar content as a fizzy drink. Without the fibre and the skins to slow down the sugar absorption, these juices can give you a mighty sugar rush before you come crashing down – and the vitamin and mineral content of the juice isn’t really enough to negate the sugar high. If you like a glass of juice try diluting half of it with water (you won’t taste the difference) or eating it with some protein or fat to help cushion the sugar spike.

And that’s it. I hope these 5 simple strategies will help you to see that healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated and with a few tweaks, you can maintain a balance over the festive period. If you have any clever strategies you like to use to keep you on track during celebrations and festivities then let me know, I’m always interested in hearing them.

Also, if you need a bit of info about me here’s an overview & picture:

Katie is a Nutritional Therapist in training who is passionate about all things food and wellbeing, especially leading a low sugar lifestyle, making nutrition accessible to everyone and showing people how delicious healthy food can actually be. She loves to share what she is learning and is documenting her journey of going back to school over on her site (https://katielshore.wordpress.com). You can also find her sharing over on Instagram (www.instagram.com/katielshore) or say hi on Twitter (www.twitter.com/katielshore).

 

Katie x

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