Healthy eating is not about strict dietary limitations, staying unrealistically thin, or depriving yourself of the foods you love. Rather, it’s about feeling great, having more energy, and stabilizing your mood. There are loads of information and dietary advice floating out there where if an expert tells you that certain food is good for you, you’ll find another one saying exactly the opposite thus confusing you totally. But, let me give you some simple tips by which you can cut through the confusion and learn how to create a tasty, varied, and healthy food habit at work.
A healthy diet is good but, a key foundation for any healthy diet is moderation. What is moderation? In essence, it means eating only as much food as your body needs. You should feel satisfied at the end of a meal and not stuffed. Moderation is also about a balance of carbohydrates, protein, fat, fibre, vitamins, and minerals to sustain a healthy body.
- Simplify: Measure portion size and do not be concerned about counting calories. Think of your healthy meal in terms of colour, variety, and freshness. This way it should be easier to make a healthy choice. Focus on finding foods you love and easy recipes that incorporate a few fresh ingredients. Gradually, your food will become healthier and more delicious.
- Start slow and make changes to your eating habits over time. Trying to make your food healthy overnight isn’t realistic or smart. Changing everything at once usually leads to cheating or giving up on your new eating plan. Make small steps, like adding a salad (full of different colour vegetables) to your daily routine once a day or switching from peanut butter to olive oil when cooking. As this small change becomes a habit, you can continue to add more healthy choices to your lifestyle.
- Every change you make matters. You don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to completely eliminate the foods you enjoy in order to have a healthy diet. Your long-term goal should be to feel good, have more energy, and reduce the risk of lifestyle diseases. Don’t let your missteps derail you—every healthy food choice you make counts.
- Think Smaller Portions. Serving sizes have ballooned recently, particularly in restaurants. When dining out, choose a starter instead of an entire plate, split a dish with a friend, and don’t order supersized anything. At home, use smaller plates, think about serving sizes in realistic terms, and start small. In case you are not satisfied at the end of the meal try adding more leafy green vegetables or rounding off the meal with some fresh salad. Visual cues can help with portion sizes–your serving of Egg, fish, or chicken should be the size of a deck of cards and half a cup of mashed potato, rice, or pasta is about the size of the small bowl.
- Take time to chew your food and enjoy mealtimes. Chew your food slowly, savouring every bite. We tend to rush through our meals thereby forgetting to actually taste the flavours and feel the texture of our food. Reconnect with the joy of eating.
- Listen to your body. Ask yourself if you are really hungry, or have a glass of water to see if you are thirsty or hungry. During a meal, stop eating before you feel full. It actually takes a few minutes for your brain to tell your body that it has had enough food, so eat slowly.
- Eat breakfast, and eat smaller meals throughout the day. A healthy breakfast can jumpstart your metabolism, and eating small, healthy meals throughout the day (rather than the standard three large meals) keeps your energy up and your metabolism going.
- Avoid eating at night. Try to eat dinner earlier in the day and then fast for 10-12 hours until breakfast the next morning. These simple dietary adjustments such as eating only when you’re most active and giving your digestive system a long break each day will only help to regulate your weight. After-dinner snacks tend to be high in fat and calories, but some healthy options like mixed vegetable soup, salad, and buttermilk is good.
- Most of us consume too much salt in our diets. Eating too much salt can cause high blood pressure and lead to other health problems. Try to limit sodium intake to 1,500 to 2,300 mg per day which is equivalent to one teaspoon of salt.
- Avoid processed or pre-packaged foods. Processed foods like canned soups or frozen dinners contain hidden sodium that quickly surpasses the recommended limit.
- Be careful when eating out. Most restaurant and fast food meals are loaded with sodium. Some offer lower-sodium choices or you can ask for your meal to be made without salt. Most gravy and sauces are loaded with salt, so ask for it to be served on the side. Opt for fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned vegetables. Cut back on salty snacks such as potato chips, and nuts. Check labels and choose low-salt or reduced-sodium products, including breakfast cereals.
- Slowly reduce the salt in your diet to give your taste buds some time to adjust.
- Go high on Fibre – In general, the more natural and unprocessed the food, the higher it is in fibre. Good sources of fibre include whole grains, wheat cereals, barley, oatmeal, beans, nuts, vegetables such as carrots, celery, and tomatoes, and fruits such as apples, berries, citrus fruits, and pears—all the more reason to add more fruit and vegetables to your diet. There is no fibre in meat, dairy, or sugar. Refined or “white” foods, such as white bread, white rice, and pastries, have had all or most of their fibre removed. An easy way to add more fibre to your diet is to start your day with a whole grain cereal, such as Fibre-One or All-Bran, or by adding unprocessed wheat bran to your favourite cereal.