If you’re anything like me, you may think to yourself: I don’t want to go on a diet but I do want to be more mindful of how well I eat.
‘Going on a diet’ doesn’t really mean much to me at all, other than a period of time where you’re probably miserable and possibly making bad food choices.
Instead I prefer to eat well, eat regularly and above all eat healthily. Hunger is not something I abide by, there’s nothing wrong with snacking provided that the snack is worth eating.
Here are a few of my own tips for a healthier diet, without actually going on a diet.
Fruit and veg
It sounds obvious. But do you eat at least 5 portions of fresh fruit and veg daily? Are you sure? I aim to eat at the very least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day, and most days I easily make it. It’s really not that hard.
Nuts and seeds
Just one handful of unflavoured, unsalted nuts a day will give you a valuable source of protein, good fats, vitamins and loads of essential minerals. Seeds are nutrient dense too and can be sprinkled onto breakfast, salads or just enjoyed as a snack.
You should aim for good 3 meals a day. If one can be predominantly raw (e.g. a salad) then all the better. Don’t worry too much about all the food groups at all of the meals – there are three opportunities throughout the day (plus snacks) to get all the nutrients you need.
For example, breakfast may be eggs, bacon, avocado and tomato. You could skip toast, as I do – you’ll eat carbs throughout the day anyway. Or for a quick breakfast – a handful of nuts and a piece of fruit or two. There’s never an excuse to skip breakfast – especially not ‘I don’t have time’.
Lunch could be a salad with cheese, eggs, nuts or smoked salmon. It could be a tuna wrap with salad. This is my ‘go to’ lunch of choice if I haven’t had the chance to prepare my own lunch – instead of a tuna sandwich I buy a tuna and sweet corn with mayo wrap, and ask for salad in it too. If there’s a possibility of eating some vegetables with your meal then that’s another opportunity to add to your 5 (or more) a day.
Dinner – the list is endless and it all depends how long you want to spend cooking. I often roast a chicken in the oven, and then eat it with veg or salad and maybe some roasted sweet potato or butternut squash, those vegetables being more nutrient dense than a normal potato. Usually I’ll have enough leftover chicken for lunch the next day and to cook a meal the following night.
I have many meal and snack ideas on my Instagram page if you’re looking for more inspiration.
It deserves its own paragraph, it’s that good for you. Add it to your food and eat it as often as you can. It’s that simple.
I’ll eat 2 or 3 snacks a day – I’m not afraid to eat between meals for two main reasons: I make sure that I don’t overeat at my main meals, and I want to help keep my blood sugar levels at a fairly constant level throughout the day. I don’t think that allowing myself to get really starving between meals and then overeating is a great idea, and it tends to have a bad effect on me if I do.
I mainly choose to snack on fruit, or carrot and celery sticks, and will often add cheese (Brie, cream cheese, cheddar chunks) or a nut butter (almond or crunchy peanut butter are my favourites). You could add those toppings to crackers or rice/corn cakes. I also often snack of Greek yoghurt with cacao powder in the evenings. Or snack time is the perfect time to eat a handful of nuts. Again, I have many variations of these snacks on my Instagram page.
I haven’t eaten sugar in 2 and a half years, but prior to that it was a constant in my life. Whether in the form of biscuits, cake, chocolate, honey in my tea, sweets, apple juice, chocolate spread… I’d indulge whenever I could because I was totally addicted.
I’m not suggesting anyone eliminates sugar from their life to the extent that I have (although if you did it wouldn’t be a bad thing), but being mindful of how much you eat and when can really help you cut down. So here are just a few of my main tips for sugar reduction:
Don’t drink your sugar allowance. Whether added to tea/coffee as sugar or honey, or in the form of fizzy drinks and fruit juice, it’s all the same thing. It’s all best avoided.
Snacks – if you’re hungry between meals the best type of snack is something nutrient rich. I would often snack on a chocolate bar and a packet of crisps… hardly worth it!
Cake – portions of cake in cafes and restaurants are massive! If you have someone to share with then why not do so? You’ll eat half the amount that you would have done but still have a treat.
Sauces, pickles and marinades. Many are as much as 30% sugar or more, so have a little look at food labels before you buy.
I hope you’ll find my food ideas helpful… just remember – eat well, don’t go on a diet!