Whatever your health goals are – losing weight, improving cardiovascular health, getting fitter or just improving your diet quality – it’s easy to get bombarded with conflicting information. Where do you start?
Healthy eating isn’t as complicated as it seems. It pays to focus most of your efforts on the aspects of nutrition that make the biggest difference long term, while getting bogged down in the small details may lead to confusion about the first step to take.
No more procrastinating! Here are 10 healthy habits that you can easily get into.
1. Water with a twist
Keep a big jug of water in the fridge – add the juice from one lemon or lime, a couple of slices of cucumber and a few fresh mint leaves for a refreshing twist. Good hydration is important, and knowing that you’ve got a zesty drink already made up is a great reminder to keep you drinking throughout the day. Aim to finish your jug by the end of the day.
2. Say no to sausages
The snags come out when it’s barbeque weather, but they’re high in saturated fat, extremely high in salt and contain lots of other ‘fillers’ and additives. Try chicken breast marinated in lemon juice and fresh herbs or fresh minute steaks. Vegetable kebabs are also delicious chargrilled on the BBQ, and nothing beats prawns or a fresh fillet of fish.
3. Give natural yoghurt a try
A good-quality natural yoghurt with live cultures is great for boosting gut health. Choose an unsweetened variety, and add a tiny bit of honey or some fresh fruit to give it any sweetness you need.
4. Swap creamy desserts to fruity desserts
It’s okay to indulge every now and then, but if you really need to have something sweet after dinner why not try something fruity instead of ice cream? Try frozen fruit blend popsicles, fresh berries with a small dollop of sweetened cream cheese, or chopped fresh fruit with a dollop of natural yoghurt and a drizzle of honey.
5. Make ‘buffed up’ sandwiches
A ‘buffed up’ sandwich is one that contains lots of fresh salad vegetables: grated carrot, rocket, baby spinach, cucumber, tomato, sprouts, red onion, beetroot, etc. This kind of sandwich is much more filling and nutritious than one that just contains ham and cheese or other processed meat or spread.
6. Say yes to breakfast
Breakfast has been well established as an important healthy lifestyle habit. Try to prioritise breakfast – if you don’t, you’ll run out of time in the mornings and it won’t happen.
7. Stick to the rule of twos
Too much alcohol can sap your energy, cause an intake of excess kilojoules (calories), deplete important energy-releasing B vitamins, and cause headaches and an inability to concentrate. Following the rule of twos is a great guide to alcohol consumption if you like to enjoy a drink.
The rule of twos: “Two a day is plenty. Have two ‘miss a drink’ days a week. Two times two is a treat, and two treats a week is too many.”
8. Avoid fad diets
If you’re looking to lose weight, resist the temptation to follow extreme dieting practices. Follow a program that encourages balanced eating, the development of long-term habits and teaches you how to prepare and buy healthy food.
9. Be a good snacker
Snacking can be either extremely helpful or extremely damaging to your weight loss or healthy lifestyle choices. Snacking well comes down to being organised so you have something healthy on hand when you need it. Snack on whole foods like fruit, nuts, yoghurt, eggs, tuna, wholegrain crackers, cheese and vegetables.
10. Eat 2 and 5 every day
Fruit and vegetables are the cornerstone of a healthy diet. Be diligent in ensuring you are eating these nutritious foods and encourage your family to do the same. Aim for two serves of fruit (2–3 pieces) and five serves of vegetables (3–5 cups) each day.
About the author
The Healthy Eating Hub
This article was written by an Accredited Practicing Dietitian from The Healthy Eating Hub. The Healthy Eating Hub is a team of university-qualified nutritionists and dietitians who are passionate about helping people develop long term healthy eating habits through offering evidence-based and practical nutrition advice that people can put into practice straight away.