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You Are What You Eat: Adopting Healthy Eating Habits To Make Sure You Are The Best Version Of You

Thursday, February 4, 2021

“You are what you eat”

It is a well-known saying with some truth to it. Of course, if you eat a burger, you are not going to turn into a burger, but if you eat a diet full of sugar, fats, salt, and heavily processed foods, you are not going to be particularly healthy. If your diet is nutritious and well balanced, you are generally going to be healthier.

Most of us have an inkling when our diets are not quite as good as they can be. We might gain - or lose - weight that we did not need to. Our skin suffers and we feel lethargic, tired and overall, we do not feel at our best. Those that do normally eat well might feel unwell after a junky few days of eating, or certainly not as good as they usually do. It really does show that what we eat can have a significant impact on how we feel.

We are very privileged that many of us live in a world where food availability and food choice is plentiful. The local grocery store stocks a massive range of foods for every taste, diet, culture, and occasion. We are able to order takeouts from cuisines all over the world and eat at restaurants serving all manners of fabulous dishes. While this choice is incredible, it can also make making the right choice more difficult at times. Faced with a delicious big cheesy pizza and fries - realistically, how many people are going to opt for the salad?

Making better choices about what you use to fuel your body can have a huge impact on your health and lifestyle. While the odd treat here and there is perfectly fine and no one should be depriving themselves of anything, unless there is an intolerance or food allergy, no one should be following an unhealthy diet all of the time. To give your body exactly what it needs, you need to be eating a balanced diet. If for any reason particular foods are out of the question, the next best option is to add supplements to your diet to compensate for whatever you are lacking.

However, how do you know that you are and make sure that you are getting everything that your body needs all the time? Let’s take a look.

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Plan your meals
One of the best ways to make sure that you are eating as healthily as possible is plan your meals in advance. Most people choose to just stick to planning their main evening meal, but there is no reason why you cannot plan every single meal and even snacks, if you think it will keep you on track. Do it before you go grocery shopping and make a list of all the ingredients that you need for those meals and snacks. If it not on the list, do not buy it. You are less likely to eat a candy bar if you have to physically go out to the store to pick it up, and you are more likely to cook that delicious but healthy meal if you have everything that you need for it in the house.

If time is an issue - and for many people juggling family and caring commitments with work or studying, it so often is, spend some time on the weekend or your day off prepping your meals. Slow cooler dump bags are a great way to make an easy meal. Throw all the ingredients - perhaps the seasoned chicken or fish, prepared veggies and any spices or marinades into a freezer lock bag and throw into the freezer. The night before you want to use them, take them out of the freezer to defrost and simply chuck into the slow cooker in the morning. Byt the time you want to eat, it will be ready with next to no hassle at all.

Eat breakfast
Breakfast is incredibly important to keep you on the straight and narrow when it comes to your diet. When you wake up in the morning, your stomach is empty and to get your metabolism kick started and give you the energy to fuel your day, you need a good breakfast. The risk you take not eating breakfast is that by mid-morning, you are really hungry and end up reaching for the cookie jar or grabbing a donut or something unhealthy just to quell the hunger.

Breakfast often has the reputation of being a boring meal, but actually, it can be one of the most exciting ones. There is the usual choice of cereal - try to avoid the sugary processed ones as all these are going to do is give you a sugar rush. Look at granolas and muesli, but also be aware that these can sometimes have added sugar. Oatmeal is always a good option and can be incredibly versatile. Whether you want over night oats - oats soaked in a milk of your choice or yoghurt with a choice of fruits and nuts and seeds over night and eaten cold or hot with your choice of delicious toppings, it is a great and healthy breakfast. You might want to find out more about the difference between steel cut, rolled, and instant oats to make sure that you try the right one for your tastes. Some great choices for toppings include:
  • Banana and honey
  • A dollop of honey or maple syrup
  • Stewed apple
  • Grated apple and cinnamon
  • Chocolate hazelnut spread
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Try making it with coconut milk and adding some passionfruit puree for a truly tropical tangy taste!

Egg based breakfasts are always a good call as well, as eggs are protein and this is great for energy. Scramble them with some spinach and serve with wholemeal toast or pancakes, boil them, fry them, poach them or pack them into an omlette with a tonne of veggies for extra health points.
 
Eat little and often
As a society, we have conditioned ourselves to eat three large meals a day at set times, whether we are hungry or not. That can lead to us getting hungry in between meals and reaching for unhealthy snacks. Instead, try cutting down portion sizes and eating more often. This means that your body does not go too long without a boost of healthy food and you don’t go hungry or eat too much in one sitting.

Stay hydrated
If you are not drinking enough fluids, it can be easy to mistake your thirst for hunger, and grab a snack right away. It is recommended that each person drink an average of eight glasses of water a day, more so if the weather is hot or if you are working out. Drinking little and often throughout the day will reduce the signs of dehydration and help you stay properly hydrated.

Drinking more water will have a positive impact on how much you are eating to make you feel fuller for longer between meals. While water is optimal, low calorie or sugar-free drinks also count towards your intake of fluid and help keep you hydrated all day.

Find something to distract you
Boredom eating or grazing is a common problem for a lot of people. If you find that you are pursuing food for no reason other than boredom or comfort, then it may be time to look at ways to take your mind off it to reduce your chances of overeating or eating the wrong food.

Take a new hobby, read a book, start working out, practise self-care or meditation; whatever works for you to help you overcome unhealthful eating habits. It can be extremely useful to make sure you eat well and avoid overeating or bingeing on the wrong kind of food. If you feel that this is an area you are going to be struggling with, contact your primary care physician to see what help is available.

Educate yourself
If you do not know what foods you should be eating, it might be time to do some reading and educate yourself. Your body needs a balanced diet that included all of the major food groups. Do not count any food as off limits - it can all be eaten in moderation and as part of a balanced diet. If your are omitting whole food groups, perhaps you have allergies or are following a vegan diet, you need to make sure that you get the nutrients from a different source to make sure you do not become deficient.

Create your meals around the fruit or vegetables that should make up most of your meal. Starchy carbohydrates should be about a third, then add your fish or protein to complete your meal.

Snacking on healthy fruits and nuts throughout the day will help keep you fuller and maintain hydration levels. Keep your saturated fat intake low and reduce the amount of artificial sugars.

Remember, it can take a long time to undo the bad habits you havee been building up over the years. Try not to be too hard on yourself if you find yourself slipping back into undesirable food choices. The trick is that you understand how to eat well, and you can get back to making good choices quickly.

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