Healthy eating habits
Following from our previous blog “a new year, new you”, I thought it would be a good idea to touch base on healthy eating habits. Many people want to be “fitter” and food is certainly number 1 on the fit list. Today’s blog will be a general overview on how we can adopt healthy eating into our lifestyle and make it become a habit in our day to day life. If you have any medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease please contact your doctor or our pharmacists for more specific advice. Nevertheless, every body is different and unique and therefore, you may need to make a few adaptations.
Eat the rainbow.
Anybody who asks for food advice from me will have heard me say this. It is my number 1 rule for a healthy diet. It is extremely important to eat everything. Eat your yellows, your blues, your reds, your purples, need I say more? Eat a variety of foods - eating a wide range of foods helps ensure that you get all of the disease-fighting potential that foods offer. In addition, this will limit your exposure to any pesticides or toxic substances that may be present in a particular food. The nutrients, fiber and other compounds in these foods may help protect against certain types of cancer and other diseases. Legumes, rich in fiber, count as vegetables, though are moderately high in calories. Choose whole fruits over juice for more fiber. Frozen fruits and vegetables are also good alternatives if you cannot obtain the fresh version.
When I say eat everything, I mean it. Eat the things you love but limit your portion sizes. Eating healthy should not be a punishment; you should eat the things you love but not as often and in smaller sizes. Ensure you read food labels properly – often, packets will contain information relating to “per serving” but the packet will be for 2 servings so you will need to multiply the numbers.
Eat little but often. Make sure you snack in between your meals - healthy snacks that is. Opt for things like nuts, fruit, veg or whole grains. This will ensure your blood sugar levels are levelled out the whole day preventing any sugar/carb cravings and binge eating. Try to consume 5 portions of fruit/veg per day – they are high in fibre and will regulate your bowels.
Never skip breakfast.
Breakfast is like the fuel to kick start your engine. It will start off your metabolism ensuring it exits the starvation mode. This will consequently help prevent any unnecessary weight gain.
The dangerous whites
My grandmother always used to say “you must stay away from the three whites – sugar, salt and flour”. When I think about it now, I can see that she was partially right. When you consume too much salt, the sodium in the salt raises blood pressure alongside having other harmful effects. It is therefore, important to limit the amount of salt you eat per day. On average you should aim for less than 2,000mg per day unless you have certain medical conditions, in which case your limit will be lower. Please speak to our pharmacists for more information.
What my grandmother defined as “white flour” was refined carbohydrates found in white bread, pasta and many other foods. Refined carbohydrates have no health benefits and contribute to weight gain. It is best to go for wholefoods such as whole meal pasta and whole meal bread as healthier alternatives.
Moreover, sugar is another source of empty calories. It is important to limit foods and drinks high in sugar. The reason I have underlined drinks is because most of the time people do not realise the high sugar content in many drinks – always read the food label.
There are good fats, bad fats and enemy fats. The good fats (unsaturated), as you can imagine, are contained in fatty fish, nuts, avocados and vegetable oil. These fats are a good substitute to butter or margarine – they help lower our bad cholesterol and keeps our blood vessels happy. It is important to remember that, we must still keep within our daily recommended allowance of fats.
The bad fats (saturated) are the fats found in animals for example red meat. These boost our bad cholesterol also called LDL and are not blood vessel friendly.
Finally, we have the enemy fats; the trans fats. Trans fats are supplied by partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and are used in many processed foods. They lower our good cholesterol and boost our bad cholesterol leading to heart disease and various other problems. They also heavily contribute to weight gain. Try to always substitute with a healthier option.
And finally.. the golden rule of adopting a healthy lifestyle is to ensure you hydrate and sleep well!