Whether you need to shed a few pounds, lower your blood pressure, or simply increase your energy levels, the best way to start is by eating healthier. Nutrition plays pretty much the biggest role in your overall health, and by improving your diet with a few basic changes, everything else, from exercising and focusing at work, to sleeping peacefully and relaxing, will be much easier. Here are some changes you can make and advice you can start following today to start eating healthier…
Stock Your Fridge With Healthy Foods
The first thing you should do on your journey to healthy eating is to reduce unhealthy temptations within easy reach in your home, while also ensuring you have plenty of healthy foods available. This will help you avoid a hungry shop run, which almost always ends with regrettable impulse purchases!
Start with your fridge, by stocking it with a variety of healthy, colorful natural whole foods with a variety of nutrients. Think protein, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber and healthy fats. A good example of a healthily stocked fridge might include…
- Unsweetened natural yogurt (healthy fat, protein, probiotic)
- Unsweetened almond milk (healthy fat)
- Green leafy vegetables, like spinach, kale and collard greens (vitamins, minerals, fiber, calcium)
- Colored vegetables of your choice. For example, bell peppers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower (vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants)
- Eggs, which can be kept in the fridge or on the bench, depending on personal preference (protein, vitamins)
- Colorful range of fruits of your choice (depending on what’s in season). Examples might include oranges, apples, kiwifruit, grapefruit, berries, watermelon, cantaloupe – the list goes on! (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber). Again, some of these can be kept in a fruit bowl instead of the fridge if you don’t like them to be too cold.
- Maple syrup to have on hand and use instead of sugar (vitamins, minerals)
- Healthy (preferably homemade) dressings and sauces. Think of blends using different bases, like apple cider vinegar, balsamic, olive oil, garlic and chili.
- Natural, lean meats if you are not vegetarian. For example, poached chicken breast, grilled turkey breast or roast beef – definitely avoid processed meats (protein, iron)
This is just an example guide – everyone stocking their fridge will have different tastes, but remember to fill it with whole foods, or foods with very few ingredients, keep it colorful, and keep it varied.
Stock Your Pantry With Healthy Ingredients
This is a continuation of the last tip, extending into the dry and canned foods section. The pantry is arguably just as important as the fridge, because this is where you can keep non-perishables, like canned beans and dry baking ingredients. Here is an example of a healthily stocked pantry…
- Ground almonds or ground hazelnuts, to use instead of flours in gluten-free and healthy desserts (healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber)
- Oats for baking or breakfast (complex carbohydrates, fiber, minerals)
- Spices, such as turmeric, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, fennel and fenugreek. This gives you plenty of flavor options to make an enormous array of dishes, including Ayurvedic-inspired and homemade Chinese food (calcium, minerals, vitamins, fiber)
- Dried herbs like basil, oregano, bay leaves, rosemary, sage, thyme and tarragon. These are great for Italian cooking, roasting vegetables, or adding to salads (vitamins, minerals)
- Whole grains, like brown rice, wild rice, buckwheat, quinoa, barley, bulgur, millet and freekeh (complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals)
- Seeds, like chia seeds, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, linseeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. You can use these to sprinkle on salads, fruit and yogurt, or as an ingredient in smoothies and baked goods (fiber, vitamins, minerals)
- Stevia, to use as a replacement for sugar and in baking
- Canned beans stored in water (fiber, protein, minerals, antioxidants)
- Raw cacao powder or 100% cocoa powder for baking and smoothies (antioxidants, vitamins, minerals)
- Matcha powder to use in smoothies (antioxidants)
- Nuts (protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals)
- Protein powder for baking and smoothies or protein shakes (protein, unsurprisingly!)
- Dates, for baking and smoothies. They make a great sugar and butter replacement.
- Onions, garlic and ginger (vitamins, anti-inflammatory properties, minerals)
- Nut butter, like almond or hazelnut. Make sure it’s 100%. These are great for snacking with vegetable sticks, adding to smoothies, or using as an ingredient in raw desserts (fiber, protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals)
Again, your pantry might look very different, depending on the types of foods you like and the types of desserts and smoothies you make. The main thing to remember again is to choose whole foods, and make sure your pantry is stocked well enough to give you a few complete recipe and meal options.
Plan Your Meals In Advance
This falls under the same category as stocking your kitchen. By planning your meals in advance, you will avoid hungry impulse buys or too many takeout nights, and you will know what to stock your fridge and pantry with. This will also give you the opportunity to cook meals in bulk and store them in individual portions to eat throughout the week. You can also use leftovers to make something different for another meal. For example, if you cook a Sunday roast, you can use leftover meat slices in a salad the next day at work. You could also use the leftover meat in a homemade curry or stir fry. If you make guacamole for a bean salad or Mexican dinner, you can use the leftover as a snack to dip vegetable sticks in. If you do work a full-time job, there’s nothing more tempting than an easy takeout order if you get home and have to come up with something to eat, potentially meaning a run to the supermarket if you don’t already have your ingredients.
Eat Homemade Food
Again, this all falls together nicely. By planning your meals ahead and stocking your fridge and pantry, you will be able to plan to cook at home. By cooking at home, you can decide how healthy you want to make your food, and you’re going to know exactly what you are eating. Meals don’t have to be super tricky or time-consuming to be healthy. There are hundreds of quick, easy recipes available on websites and blogs all over the internet.
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