Over the past few years I have been reading and learning a lot on improving my health overall and I realize that making a few changes in our lifestyle and eating habits can actually make a big difference in the long run. However, making major changes to your diet & lifestyle can sometimes seem overwhelming. Instead of making big changes, it may be better to start with a few smaller ones.
1. Pick The Whole Grain Bread: If you are bread lover like me, it is time you make a switch from refined flour bread to a whole grain bread. Whole grain breads consists of unrefined grains that haven’t had their bran and germ removed by milling and hence, all of the nutrients remain intact. Whole grains are better sources of fiber and other important nutrients, such as selenium, potassium and magnesium. I have been using the Nature’s own 100% whole wheat bread and I love having them with eggs! Any bread made with 100 percent whole grains, whether it is whole wheat or whole grain, is the most nutritious option. But be careful, just because a label says ‘whole grain’ doesn’t guarantee that the product contains exclusively whole grains. The best way to learn about your bread is to look out for a 100% Stamp, which means all of its grain ingredients are whole.
2. Increase Your Protein Intake: Growing up I never understood the importance of proteins, the more I read the more I understood how important it it for your body and not just for athletes and body builders. That doesn’t mean you need to start drinking protein shakes every day. Most people can get the proteins that they need from a healthy and a balanced diet. Protein comes from a variety of sources, including meat, milk, fish, soy, and eggs, as well as beans, legumes, and nut butters. When proteins are digested, they leave behind amino acids, which the human body needs. Plan your meals in a way that there is always a source of protein included. Inclusion of greek yogurt in your diet is a great option. You can even add nuts and fruits to it and have them as desserts. On days when I know that I haven’t consumed enough proteins, I go and make myself a protein shake.
3. Bake Or Shallow Fry Instead Of Deep Frying: Don’t get me wrong, I love my fried pakoras occasionally but look out for alternatives whenever you can. The way you preparing your food can drastically change its effects on your health. Deep-frying and grilling are all popular methods of preparing meat and fish. However, during these types of cooking methods, several potentially toxic compounds are formed and these compounds have been linked to several diseases, including cancer and heart disease. Healthier cooking methods include baking, broiling, simmering, slow-cooking, poaching and pressure cooking. Try baking your fish and meat next time and trust me with the right temperature and ingredients you will be surprised to see how good it tastes!
4. Eat Your Fruits Instead of Drinking Them: We all know that fruits are healthy and are loaded with fiber, vitamins and antioxidants, eating fruits leads to a reduced risk of several diseases. Since fruits contain fiber and various plant compounds, their sugars are generally digested very slowly and do not cause major spikes in blood sugar levels however the same is not true for fruit juices. Most fruit juices that are sold in the market aren’t even made from real fruit and consists of concentrate and sugar. Even the real fruit juices lack the fiber and chewing resistance provided by whole fruits. This makes fruit juice much more likely to spike your blood sugar levels. And It also makes it way too easy to consume too much in one sitting!
5. Get Active: can’t stress this enough. Aim to do about 30 minutes of moderate to high-intensity exercise each day, or simply take the stairs and go on short walks whenever possible. If you don’t have access to a gym, there are so many great workout videos on youtube pick one and get going! keep your body moving. Exercise can be such a great mood booster and as well as decrease feelings of depression, anxiety and stress.
6. Be Conscious While Dining Out: My husband and I are big time foodies and we love to explore food options in our area. However we have a list of places we mostly order from and they aren’t fast food joints! If you actually look out there are tons of healthy options that are tasty and satisfies your cravings. Make simple small changes, ask for sauces on the side so you can add them sparingly, get a side of salad when you the option. If you are ordering in food transfer the food contents to your daily eating plate, you will be surprised to see how big of a portion it is! You can always save them for a later meal. The most important part is be mindful of what and how much you eat.
7. Don’t Eat Out of a Packet: I remember a few years back when I used to finish a pack of chips in one sitting without realizing that I was actually full halfway and continued to eat because I was just bored. The trick is to take some of the chips/snacks put it in a small bowl/plate and take it away from the kitchen. If you want a refill you know you have to come back all the way.
8. Cook at Home More Often: Make a habit of cooking at home rather than eating out too often. By cooking your food yourself, you’ll know exactly what is in it. You won’t have to wonder about any hidden unhealthy ingredients and eat with no regrets. I was never a fan of cooking but ever since I have started making the effort it has been a great learning experience. You understand the spices, the flavors and you can make your own tweaks and get your own twists to tons of recipes on the internet. And did you know cooking at home has been shown to reduce the risk of excessive weight gain? that’s a win.
9. Eat Your Veggies: You have been listening to this since you were a child but how much vegetables do we actually consume on days when we have our favourite chicken curry meal? Try to incorporate some kind of vegetables on every meal. The goal must be 3-5 cups per day. Easiest way to do it to try and add it to your breakfast menu. For lunch and dinner let half your plate consist of plant foods. This will likely reduce the portions of food groups that many eat in excess. In addition, look for opportunities to include these foods as snacks. Carrot sticks with hummus is such a great combination for evening snacks.
10. Slow Down & Reflect: Life gets busy and that is a fact. But it is important to take a pause and appreciate the beauty of the world around you. Make time to enjoy each part of your day. Take a few moments in the morning to check the weather. Admire the nature, what better way to start the day but with connecting with mother nature. Learn to appreciate your self and the people in your life and most importantly always find the time to do what you love.
Making big changes overnight is going to be a recipe for disaster. Instead what I suggest is to incorporate some of the small changes mentioned above to make your diet & lifestyle healthier.
Trust me in the long run they will have a big impact on making your overall diet healthier and more sustainable.