Few people ever seem to agree on what healthy eating actually means. Here are a few healthy eating tips to make this extra simple.
Some people might vilify whole food groups like fats and carbohydrates, some swear by gigantic salads, and some just drink gallons of green juice. When it comes to healthy eating, ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ is definitely applicable — often literally as well as figuratively.
I am a firm believer that what is healthy for one person may not work for someone else, but that often makes it even harder to know the best course to follow. During lockdown I have developed a bit of an obsession with food and nutrition. Here are a couple of healthy eating tips I believe can be easily applied to make your food that little bit ‘healthier’ without completely changing your diet.
Fruit, Veg, and Fat
The nutrients that we need daily as humans can be broken down in to our Macronutrients (Fats, Carbohydrates, and Protein), and Micronutrients (Vitamins and Minerals) based on the amount we need to consume. This first tip looks at one from each group: fats and vitamins.
Within our daily requirement of Vitamins, there are four which are fat soluble (meaning they are stored in fat) whereas the rest are water soluble. This means if you eat fruits and vegetables containing the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K with a source of fat increases the amount your body absorbs and stores.
I know there is a lot of debate around fats and how much of which types we should eat, which often leads to people fearing them, but getting enough in our diet is essential for our body’s everyday functions. We use it to: store vitamins, keep us warm, provide energy, protect our organs, and for vital processes like reproduction, growth, and immunity. While obviously some fats are better for us than others, they should still be a key part of our diet. By combining them with fruits and vegetables, we can more efficiently utilise the fats we eat.
Some examples of how you could incorporate this combination include:
- A snack of nuts or butter with fruit (my favourite is apple slices)
- Preparing your veggies in an oil based dressing
- Adding chopped nuts or avocado to your salads
Vitamin C and Iron
One of the many minerals our body needs to work properly if Iron. It’s vital to forming haemoglobin in the blood, which is used to transport oxygen, as well as forming myoglobin in the muscles which helps to store oxygen for movement and the breakdown of fat for energy.
As well as its existing benefits, vitamin C actually increases the body’s iron absorption when consumed together. This tip is especially useful for people with anaemia, and often doctors will suggest taking iron supplements with orange juice to increase their effectiveness.
Some ways you could implement this are:
- Mix spinach with vitamin C rich vegetables like tomatoes, or add it to a smoothies with orange juice
- Swap out peppercorn sauce for a chunky tomato salsa with your steak
- When marinading or dressing your tofu, use a marinade that incorporates lemon or lime juice
Turmeric and Black Pepper
The bright yellow spice turmeric is a great natural treatment for inflammation in the body. While a certain amount of inflammation in the body is necessary, long term inflammation can be linked to chronic conditions like heart disease or cancer. On top of this, turmeric is believed to reduce the effects of skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, as well as being an anti-oxidant.
Although turmeric does all these good things for our bodies, it is not as easily absorbed as other substances. However, the active ingredient of Black Pepper piperine increases the absorption of turmeric’s active ingredient curcumin. Not only that, but piperine itself also has anti-inflammatory benefits, as well as being good for relieving nausea and headaches.
This is an easy combination to include in your diet. For example you could:
- Create a spice mix to keep in your cupboard for curries, making sure to include turmeric and black pepper; this can then be used to coat chickpeas of meat for roasting, or as the foundation for a curry sauce
- If you’re a fan of turmeric lattes, mix in a little black pepper to boost the health benefits and add a little kick
Fat and Protein
There’s nothing worse, in my opinion, than eating a delicious meal only be be hungry again half an hour later. While some people may opt to increase their meal size to counteract this problem, an alternative solution is to make sure you have a good source of fat and protein in each of your meals. Not only are these two macronutrients vital for our bodies, they also help you to feel more satisfied after a meal- and add lots of flavour!
A lot of people believe that it is difficult to include protein in a plant based diet, but that is definitely not the case. In addition to ‘fake meats’ and meat alternatives like tofu and tempeh, their are various ways you get boost the protein in your meals from plants. Just a few examples include: quinoa, oats, chia seeds, hemp seeds, broccoli, and lentils. Whatever your diet is, there are loads of easy ways you can add extra fat and protein to your meals to boost their satiety factor.
Just a few suggestions on how to do this are:
- Add some nut butter, yoghurt, or chia seeds to your oats (hot or cold)
- Top a salad with some nuts or avocado for fats, and sprinkle on some roasted chickpeas or meat for protein
- Swap out your normal pasta for the higher protein chickpea pasta to make your dish more filling
Obviously there are many other ways to give your meals that extra boost, but these are the ones that I have found the most effective, and the easiest to implement in to my existing diet. These simple healthy eating tips are great for making your meals that little bit ‘healthier’, without them being boring or bland. Try experimenting a little with different combinations to find what works best for you and your lifestyle, but most importantly, to find what tastes the best!
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