So, you’re on a mission to eat healthier. There are countless ways to go about that, but here’s the good news: our minds and bodies respond to slow and steady change. These six tweaks by Peta Shulman founder of GoodnessMe Box will not only help you to adjust to a healthier diet – but actually stick to it.
Image: Pablo Merchan Montes By Unsplash
1. Buy healthier alternatives to your favourite foods
Soon enough, your tastebuds will get used to them, and you won’t crave the not-so-healthy versions as much.
These are some of the best healthy food swaps:
– Refined bread > Sourdough or rye bread
– Pizza > Cauliflower pizza
– Packaged cereals > Oats
– White pasta > Brown rice, quinoa or mung bean pasta
– White rice > Brown rice or quinoa
– White flour > Almond meal or coconut flour
– Mayo > Hummus
– Margarine > Natural nut butter (e.g. almond, peanut or ABC butter)
– Vegetable oil > Olive oil or coconut oil
– Yellow cheese (e.g. cheddar and brie) > White cheese (e.g. mozzarella and cottage cheese)
– Milk chocolate > 70-85% dark chocolate
– Sugar > Stevia, maple syrup or rice malt syrup
– Soft drinks > Sparkling water with fresh fruit, coconut water, or homemade iced tea.
2. Focus on eating more veggies
If you do just one thing to improve your diet today, this week or this month, make it this. Eating veggies is the easiest way to fuel your body with the minerals and nutrients it needs to function.
Here are some simple ways to add more veggies to your daily diet:
Load up on veg for breakfast.
Many of us reach for toast or cereal in the morning, and that’s thanks to good marketing. Whip up some eggs with sautéed spinach, or an Israeli-style brekkie. Think a salad with pickled veggies, labneh, hummus and tahini.
When morning tea rolls around, sip on a green juice with spinach, lettuce leaves, celery, cucumber, lemon, ice and apple for sweetness. If you’re more of a smoothie fan, add almond milk or banana.
Eat through the rainbow.
The more colourful your veggies, the better! It could be as simple as adding grated carrot to your salad, or eggplant and capsicum to your roast veggie tray.
Snack on cut-up veggie sticks with hummus, tahini or nut butter.
You’ll love the mix of crunchy veggies and creamy dip all while getting a nutrient hit.
Experiment with new veggies.
If boredom is your issue, go to the supermarket or farmers market and pick one vegetable you haven’t tried before, like purple carrots or white zucchini.
3. Build a balanced plate
This is easier than it sounds. You want to have one source of all three essential macronutrients in each meal: carbohydrates, protein and healthy fat.
Carbs are our body’s chief source of energy. The goal is to eat complex carbs, which release energy slowly.
– Veggies – Sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, peas, zucchini
– Breads – rye, sourdough, spelt
– Breakfast items – oats, brown rice cakes
– Wholegrains – quinoa, brown rice, brown rice pasta, millet, amaranth, buckwheat
– Gluten-free noodles – soba, black bean, buckwheat, konjac.
Good fats help to reduce inflammation, regulate our hormones and give skin that glow we all know and love. They also keep us feeling fuller for longer.
– Nuts and seeds
– Oils – olive oil, coconut oil or flaxseed oil
– Nut butter and tahini
Protein feeds every single cell in our body, so it’s important to have a portion of protein at each meal.
– Lean meat, like turkey
– Tempeh or tofu
– Lentils or chickpeas
4. Add flavour with healthy condiments
Let’s be real. If you’re going to change how you eat, it has to taste good! Don’t undo all your hard work by drizzling a commercial dressing or sauce on your dishes. These condiments are packed with goodness, and taste even better:
– Lemon juice
– Apple cider vinegar
– Nutritional yeast – this seasoning has a cheesy taste and texture, but it’s dairy-free!
– Dijon mustard
– Miso paste
– Plain Greek yoghurt
– Lots of herbs and spices.
5. Stop sugar cravings in their tracks
Sugar is addictive. The more you have it, the more you want it. The best way to avoid sugar is to curb the cravings in the first place. These tips will help:
– Sprinkle cinnamon on everything. It’s brilliant at busting cravings.
– Drink apple cider vinegar every day. Shot it in the morning or add a few tablespoons to your water bottle.
– Enjoy more bitter foods, like rocket. This will train your brain to love those over sweet treats.
– Skip cocktails. Sip on ‘cleaner’ bevvies, like red wine and spirits.
– Use natural sweeteners. Think stevia, honey, maple syrup and rice malt syrup.
– Sip on chai tea. The sweet spices in chai, like nutmeg and cinnamon, are often enough to ward off sugar cravings.
– Take magnesium before bed. This supplement helps with sugar cravings, sleep and muscle recovery.
6. Learn how to read nutritional labels
Before buying or eating food, scan the nutritional label. Chances are, once you start eating well and feeling better, you’ll have no desire to put artificial ingredients, saturated fats and sodium into your body.