When I use the word ‘diet’ I mean in the sense of what you eat, in no way a restrictive way of eating. However, for anyone hoping to help their bodies function with the help of natural foods there are small changes which are easy to make which can help heal your body rather than possibly harm it.
Due to food intolerances if there are any packaged foods I eat I always check the packaging, this is a good habit to get into as you notice what you are actually putting into your body. It’s so easy to be oblivious to what you are actually consuming when foods come in packaging, you think you are eating a meal or snack but might not be aware of the hidden chemicals, sugars etc. which in fresh food aren’t necessary. Sugar is added to so many foods, even ones you wouldn’t expect which can take you way over your suggested daily intake. Tracking just one ingredient like this to start with can give you a good idea of how much you are consuming and could surprise you. Once you know about it you can measure and change it.
1. Swap unhealthy snacks for natural alternatives
Snacks are usually easy to grab which can mean packaged food filled with sugars and nasties. Snacks can still be easy to quickly grab and healthy. There are some healthy snacks you can buy with a good date to keep in your cupboard, or with a little to no preparation fresh foods can be snacks. Like the few examples below:
For a Sweet tooth: Fresh fruit, dried fruit, fruit and or veg bars which you can usually buy without added ingredients (like Nakd) or there are loads of recipes for on Pinterest, fruit and nut mix, granola mix…
Craving crunch: seaweed, dried veggie sticks/crisps, rice crackers, roasted chickpeas, popcorn…
‘Stodgy food’: Oat crackers with toppings like peanut butter or houmous, oat bars…
2. Drink more water
Staying hydrated is important for your health, your body to work properly and helps your skin, your brain function, gives you energy and can also stop you from snacking when you think you are hungry. Sometimes we can think we are hungry and eat, instead you could actually be thirsty and drinking water gives your body what it needs and makes you realise you aren’t actually hungry, stopping you from unnecessarily snacking. If you’re trying to reduce your portion size and food intake, drinking a glass of water 30 minutes before eating can help you feel fuller after your meal.
You could be dehydrated (and feeling the negative side-effects) before you feel it so you shouldn’t wait until you’re really thirsty before having a drink!
Drinks are another way sugar can sneakily slip into your diet, avoid this by drinking water. Along with cutting out sugar or potentially harmful sweeteners you can enjoy the other benefits of drinking plenty of water while avoiding the side effects of sugary or caffeinated drinks (hot or cold).
Try carrying around a water bottle to remind you to drink, you can buy ones which have time stamps on for you to have consumed so much before a certain time of the day, ones to keep your water cool for long periods of time and other pretty designs. I prefer to use a glass water bottle as I feel it is easier to clean and doesn’t absorb any flavours from fruit etc. that I put in. Plus it’s better for the environment than using a single use plastic water bottle!
To make water more interesting, or if you aren’t used to drinking plain water, you could always add fruit to flavour it and boost the health benefits of drinking it. Some additions to water could be lemon, blueberries, strawberries or ginger. Search for ‘infused water’ on Pinterest for more ideas.
Another alternative which is easier when out and about is the cold infuse tea bags by twinings made for cold water. They add gentle flavour, the ingredients are natural and all you need to do is add them to a bottle of water.
3. Make your own food
Try to eat out less and make your own food more, instead of buying food out at lunch make yourself a packed lunch to take with you to work/school/uni. Try to limit meals out, as lots of sugar and other things are added in sauces and foods when eating out. Along with being healthier it’ll save you money! When you make your own food you know exactly what it contains and are in better control of what you are eating, it also makes you more aware of how much of certain foods you are consuming.
4. Change your attitude to food
See food as a way to nourish your body, to give it what it needs for you to achieve your goals in life. Give your body good stuff to help it function at it’s best and treat it as self-care, giving yourself the food your body deserves. It’s a way of showing that you care about yourself and are worth it.
Eating well can also ease anxiety symptoms by cutting out or reducing things like caffeine, alcohol, sugary and fatty foods. There are certain foods which you can eat which also help to ease anxiety.
Eat to care for your body, not to punish yourself.
Think about how you feel after eating, a big pizza and chocolate cake might taste great but how do you feel after eating them? Tired? lethargic? ‘foggy’? You have brain cells in your gut which means that when you eat foods that aren’t full of the nutrients that your body needs how you think and feel can be impacted. I’m not saying cut these out completely if you enjoy them and like to keep them in your diet, just cut down the portion or frequency and eat them in moderation.
5. Learn about food
Educate yourself on good foods, research what particular foods are good for, explore new options, try things you haven’t before, make new dishes.
Some people think eating well means eating boring, many imagine salad everyday. When I was in school and I thought about eating healthy that’s definitely what I thought, I cut carbs and ate salads, fruit and veg. It never stuck (thankfully) and without fail I would get a cold within the week. It worries me to think how little nutrients and calories I was consuming, it was unhealthy and the reason I’d get ill. I learned about new foods, how my body needed different nutrients to function effectively, where to get the nutrients from and I found it super interesting. Healthy foods taste amazing and are far more flavoursome and interesting to me than pre-made foods – or plain salads…
Once you learn about why foods are good it’ll make you want to eat them, and it’ll become so much easier and faster to whip up quick healthy meals with patience rather than grabbing a ready meal or high sugar/fat snacks. You’ll form new, healthier, habits.