Improving your diet and eating habits can be really difficult. We all lead busy lives, meaning the time devoted to cooking and preparing healthier food options is often limited. However, there are many ways you can improve your food choices without disrupting your schedule or lifestyle.
The beginning of a New Year is often seen as a new beginning for many people, where they seek to improve themselves – such as what they eat. Instead of falling flat on your New Year’s resolutions, check out these tips on how to maintain a great, balanced diet that will go a long way in improving your overall health.
What makes up a healthy diet?
A healthy, balanced diet consists of all the major food groups and nutrients, like vitamins, protein and minerals. A “healthy diet” will vary from person to person and will depend on age, gender and the amount of exercise the person is doing on a weekly basis. Likewise, you should not disregard various forms of exercise, as more nutritious food isn’t the only way to improve your overall health and wellbeing.
All individuals should be aiming for approximately 2 servings of fruit and five servings of vegetables per day. However, serving sizes can confuse many people. Indeed, according to the NSW Government, a standard serving of fruit is a medium-sized apple or banana or 2 small apricots. Likewise, a standard serving of vegetables is 1 cup of salad or ½ cup of cooked broccoli, pumpkin or carrot.
How to improve your diet?
So, now that we have some idea of what a healthy diet actually consists of, here are some great tips on how you can actually maintain it.
Find recipes that are easy to cook
If you can find nutritious recipes that can be prepared quickly then you are more likely to eat them out of convenience. It’s always helpful to explore the internet for healthy and quick dishes you can make at home – for example, this goat cheese and pesto spaghetti can be cooked in less than 30 minutes!
Keep a food diary
It may sound cliché or silly, but keeping a food diary is actually one of the best ways to monitor your consumption. You can’t mentally keep track of every single meal, drink or snack you have, so writing it down or using a calorie counter to monitor everything is a must. With a diary, you’ll know when you need to curb the intake and when you’re allowed to indulge a little.
Reduce salt and fat intake
Another great way of improving your diet is to curb your salt and fat consumption. If you’re eating a lot of fast food for lunch at work, consider preparing your own lunch or bringing leftovers. Not only will it save you money, but there’s a good chance it’ll be better than a large burger meal from the fast-food joint down the road.
Drink plenty of water
A lot of people simply don’t drink enough water throughout the day. It doesn’t matter if the weather is hot or if you’re doing a lot of exercise, you should still be consuming over 2L per day. This roughly equates to around 8 glasses of water (depending on the size of the glasses).
Remembering to drink plenty of water is crucial in delivering nutrients throughout your body, while also helping out with weight loss. If your urine is dark or if you’re feeling fatigued, then there is a good chance you’re not having enough.
Vary the types of food you eat
Different foods provide different types of nutrients, which is really helpful if you’re trying to maintain a balanced diet. For example, orange vegetables like pumpkin and carrot are full of vitamin A, whereas citrus fruits, like lemons, contain a lot of vitamin C.
So, how can you try more different foods? Well, you need to be proactive in doing the following:
- Try a new fruit or vegetable every week
- Create a healthy eating plan that is balanced, ensuring you don’t focus too much on a particular food group
Purchase less processed foods
Whilst processed foods are often quick to prepare and consume, they are often full of preservatives, emulsifiers, artificial flavours, and unnecessary carbohydrates, which are things you definitely don’t want in your diet.
Instead of buying processed foods, try and find natural, raw ingredients which you can use in preparing home-cooked meals with a greater nutritional value. If you don’t have the time to search out fresh fruits and vegetables, try engaging a service that delivers pre-portioned ingredients to your door.
Meet your calcium needs
Dairy products are your best bet if you want to increase your calcium intake. Things like milk, cheese, and yoghurt are essential components of a healthy diet. They are really important for your teeth and maintaining bone strength. If you’re struggling to meet your calcium intake, try having a glass of milk with every meal.