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When you’re juggling a 9-5 job, social life and everything else in between, it can be tricky to squeeze in time for a healthy meal. You might find yourself rushed for time in the morning, exhausted by the end of a long day or simply not have access to fresh ingredients. This is why so many people rely on packaged foods and fast food chains to get through their busy schedule. However, this can have an adverse effect on your health. A balanced diet is imperative for staying healthy and keeping your mind alert throughout the day. Diet plays a key role in maintaining optimal physical health and mental well-being. Healthy eating habits are essential for long-term physical and mental health benefits. To help you achieve this, we’ve put together some useful tips and tricks that will help you adopt a healthier lifestyle. Except the healthy diet, you can also practise yoga or stretching to maintain your body health.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This is a fact! It’s also the meal where we make the biggest mistakes. We tend to reach for convenience foods like cereal and granola bars, or simply don’t eat anything at all. Eating a nutritious breakfast kick starts your metabolism and keeps it going for longer. It also helps you feel more energized and focused throughout the day. Make sure to include fibre-rich foods that keep you fuller for longer. Some good examples of such foods include oats, whole grain bread, fresh fruits, nuts and seeds.
A healthy breakfast can also help tackle your waistline. The best breakfast for weight loss is the one that contains healthy fats and very low in carbs. Studies have found that people who eat eggs for breakfast are less likely to be overweight or gain weight. Egg yolks are rich in a substance called choline which helps break down fat in the liver. Another way to stay slim while eating eggs is to replace the carb-loaded toast with another egg.
Don’t skimp on protein
Protein plays a vital role in overall health, as well as maintaining a healthy weight. It’s a complete dietary source of amino acids which are essential for muscle growth and repair. It’s also known to increase satiety (the feeling of fullness) more than other macronutrients. This is beneficial for weight loss because consuming more protein can reduce your calorie intake by up to 15%. It’s also important to note that there is an increased risk of heart disease with high protein diets.
It’s important to not overdo it as excess protein can put strain on your kidneys which are responsible for removing it from your blood stream. You don’t have to eat steak and eggs every morning to get in your daily protein. In fact, many of us think we need to make a beeline for the protein foods when in reality we’re getting more than enough from a balanced diet. As a general rule of thumb, aim for 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight. This can be achieved through a wide variety of foods such as: fish, eggs, dairy, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
Stick to whole grains
Whole grains are full of fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals. They’re also rich in antioxidants which can help reduce the risk of certain cancers. Whole grains can also help lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and regulate blood sugar levels. This is due to their high fibre content which breaks down into glucose more slowly, keeping blood sugar levels in check. They can also help with weight loss as they can increase feelings of fullness, helping you eat less overall. The key to getting the most health benefits out of whole grains is to replace processed and refined grains with their whole equivalents.
Some examples of whole grains are: quinoa, oats, buckwheat, brown rice and multigrain bread. Switch out white and refined grains such as white rice, white bread, and pasta for their whole grain equivalents. You can add whole grains to a variety of dishes such as salads, soups, stews, casseroles and even meatloaf.
Choose colourful vegetables and fruits
Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals that can help boost your immune system, reduce the risk of certain diseases and promote healthy skin and hair. They are also a great source of fibre and antioxidants which can help reduce your risk of heart disease, certain cancers and diabetes. Fruits and vegetables can also help you lose weight and manage your blood sugar levels. They are low in calories and rich in fibre, which can help you stay full for longer. If you’re looking for some ways to incorporate more vegetables and fruits in your diet, try these simple tricks:
- Eat something colourful every day: It’s advised to eat a wide variety of colourful fruits and vegetables to get all the essential vitamins and minerals. Some examples of colourful vegetables are: Broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, kale, spinach and lettuce. For fruits, choose things like blueberries, apples, pears, bananas, oranges and strawberries.
- Choose frozen or canned veggies over fresh: Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables are just as healthy as fresh ones. They are often cheaper and have fewer pesticides compared to their fresh counterparts. Keep frozen vegetables unopened in the freezer for maximum freshness.
- Experiment with different spices and herbs: Add flavour to your vegetables and fruits to make them tastier. Experiment with different herbs and spices such as: cayenne pepper, turmeric, rosemary, sage, coriander, cumin and black pepper.
Make food ahead of time
Make as much food as you can in advance so you don’t have to rush to prepare meals during your limited free time. Having food ready to go also saves you money as you won’t have to constantly be heading to the store to buy groceries. It’s important to make sure the food you’re storing is properly preserved so it can last longer. Some examples of food you can make in advance are: baked goods, salads, soups, stews, casseroles and chili. It’s important to use the right containers to store these meals. Glass jars, plastic containers, stainless steel or aluminum foil can be used. Avoid using plastic containers made with #7 (polycarbonate) as they contain Bisphenol A (BPA) which has been linked to various health issues such as heart disease and diabetes.
Healthy eating habits are essential for long-term physical and mental health benefits. It’s important to eat a well-balanced diet rich in nutrients. This includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, protein-rich foods, and healthy fats. It’s also important not to skimp on water, as this will help keep your body hydrated and functioning properly. If you find yourself too busy for proper meal prep, you can always try some meal replacement shakes as an alternative.