With so much confusing and conflicting information about what to eat and not eat, here’s my 10 Simple Steps to Healthy Eating.
If you follow most of these, most of the time (after all no one is perfect!), then you can’t go wrong!
10 Simple Steps to Healthy Eating
1. Eat mostly fresh, real food.
There shouldn’t be an ingredient list – real food doesn’t need one!
Eat a variety of fresh whole foods, which have been minimally processed and mostly plant based which is the basis of a diet that is nutritionally balanced, delicious and much better for the environment.
A variety of foods means all types – a rainbow of coloured vegetables, both cooked and raw, fruits, nuts, seeds, meat, fish, eggs, oats, rice and eat a diversity within each food type.
2. Eat local and seasonal produce.
Shop at your local farmer’s market or green grocer – get to know where your food comes from and support local business. Your produce will be fresher, tastier and more nutritious.
Don’t be afraid to try new things – ask your local grower for ideas of what to do with produce you aren’t familiar with.
Buy organic where possible, or peel and wash your vegetables well in 3 parts water, 1 part vinegar.
3. Season foods with fresh and dried herbs and spices.
Fresh and good quality dried herbs and spices also have medicinal uses.
Use minimal fats, oils, salts and sugar in when seasoning or when cooking whole foods.
Swap margarine for avocado or hummus.
Sweeten home baked goods and porridge with cinnamon and vanilla.
Beware of hidden MSG in commercial flavourings!
4. Limit the processed foods.
The ingredients and methods used in the manufacture of processed foods such as vegetables in brine, fruits in syrup, cheeses and supermarket breads unfavourably alter the nutritional composition of the original foods from which they are derived.
Base your meals around fresh whole food and processed foods can be used in only small amounts as ingredients in dishes.
5. Avoid highly processed foods – ie anything in a packet.
Processed and packaged foods are nutritionally unbalanced. Foods such as salty packaged snacks, soft drinks, breakfast cereals, muesli bars and instant noodles are easy to overeat and tend to be consumed in excess and displace fresh whole foods.
The chemicals, additives, emulsifiers and preservatives that give “food” a uniform appearance a long shelf life aren’t what our bodies are designed to digest.
Bread is meant to go stale and mouldy after a few days…just saying!
6. Eat regularly and make it social.
Make your daily meals at regular times. Sit down, eat with a knife and fork. Eat slowly and enjoy the food you are eating, without being on your phone, watching TV or reading.
Eating is social and food is meant to be enjoyed in the company of family and friends. Share the meal preparation, cooking and clean up.
7. Have fun in the kitchen
Get adventurous and try new recipes and ask friends to share theirs.
Get the kids involved and teach them how to prep and cook food. Here are some great kids snack ideas!
If you aren’t a confident cook, start with some basic recipes, or find a cooking class.
Just start cooking!
8. Make eating well a priority – it’s an investment in your health
Spend time on the weekend to plan your meals in advance and create a shopping list around your meal plan. (this can be just 5-10 minutes once you get the hang of it!)
Make one big trip to the supermarket, instead of going every day. This will save you time and money.
Make the preparation and eating of meals a relaxed and pleasurable time.
Assess your lifestyle to ensure you have enough time for food and eating.
Nourishing yourself with healthy food is the most basic form of self care.
9. Choose freshly made meals when eating out
Avoid fast food chains and anywhere that food is mass produced and prepackaged.
A freshly made burger with lots of salad is far healthier and more appealing than one prewrapped that’s been sitting in a warmer.
Avoid battered, crumbed and deep fried foods – fresh is always better!
10. Don’t believe health claims on labels
Food manufacturers care about sales – they don’t care about your health.
Always ignore the health claims like “no added sugar” or “all natural” – it’s just clever marketing. And yes there is ALWAYS some form of sugar. Remember arsenic is natural too. Doesn’t mean it’s good for you!
Read the ingredients and know what is in your food. If it sounds like food, it is. If it sounds like a science experiment, it is. Put it back and walk away!
Look for the hidden sugars, additives, preservatives, sodium and trans fats.
The Golden Rules
Always choose fresh whole foods that have been minimally processed and freshly made.
Choose water and fresh fruit and vegetables over soft drinks, juices and packaged foods.
Don’t replace freshly made dishes such as:
Broth, soups, salads, fresh fruits and vegetables and homemade desserts
With products that need minimal cooking such as:
Packaged snacks and soups, instant noodles, breakfast cereals, preprepared frozen dishes, packaged sandwiches, processed meats, supermarket sauces and condiments, packaged cake mixes and processed desserts.