So I just wanted to share a few of my thoughts with you as I’d like everyone to understand that healthy eating is not a diet, it is a healthy lifestyle where you look after yourself and the body you live in, after all, it’s the only one you’ve got. Therefore, wherever physically possible I like to fill mine with the right macro (carbs, proteins and fats) and micro-nutrients (minerals, vitamins and water), a generous amount of exercise to get my heart pumping a little, enough sleep to feel rested and a little bit of what I fancy to keep myself happy. It’s all about balance and I like to follow the 80 – 20% rule, so 80% of the time I’ll follow a healthy lifestyle and 20% I’ll treat myself to a night off.
It’s also all about the planning and organisation. You’re the only person who can take control of your lifestyle and planning and organising yourself is the way to do this. For example, if you know you’re not going to be at home for breakfast, then prepare something to take on the go with you, such as overnight oats, a homemade granola bar, a smoothie or a homemade fruit parfait…there’s no excuses to not plan ahead and chuck something together in a mason jar…they are perfect! If you’re at work all week then plan your lunches around where you’re going to be, so if you have a place at work where you can sit down and take half an hour for lunch then prepare yourself some lunches on a Sunday and make sure you have something to fit around your week, for example, prepare a batch of salad and portion it out over the next few days, make a soup or make a one-pot dish such as a chilli, a stew or a curry which can be divided into several meals. You may also wish to plan for snacks during the day, as I know I get hungry after meals and need a quick pick-me-up to keep me going until dinner, so again prepare some fruit, nuts, homemade snack bars, yogurt, anything that is convenient for you. And then there is dinner, and most of us can enjoy this meal in the comfort of our homes with our loved ones, so we have a little extra time to prepare something for everyone to enjoy, such as a vegetable curry, a bean chilli, a nut-loaf and some roasted veggies or a stir-fry…it doesn’t have to be something fancy and there are many dishes that taste delicious and require small amounts of time to cook, you may just have to be organised with your vegetable preparation, and if you have time before you leave in the morning, chop up some potatoes and carrots and then you’ve got even less to do when you get home!
I do realise that planning and organising is not always possible and there are times where you get home too late and just want to jump into bed and we all have those days, so when these occasions do occur, choose wisely instead. So, if you have to grab breakfast on-the-go, think wisely, look at the ingredients and nutrition content in the granola bar you’re picking up and if there might be a better alternative go for that instead even if it’s not quite what you fancy, there are often alternative brands that are purposely produced to be healthier for you on-the-go and yes they might cost you more but I always think it’s worth it. Again, if you’re having to grab something quick whilst you’re out for lunch, look at your options, pick up the salad instead of the sandwich, and you might even feel better for it.
A healthy lifestyle isn’t just about the foods you consume, but also about the fluids you consume too. I try and consume as much water as possible, ideally 2 litres a day and more if exercising. I limit my amount of caffeine to one cup of coffee a day as it is a treat I’m not yet willing to sacrifice! I don’t drink
fruit juices as they’re often high in sugar and therefore I would rather make my own. I also drink herbal teas due to the lack of caffeine, and always start my day off with a green tea, but there are more appealing flavours out there such as peppermint for digestion, lemon ginseng for the whole body and chamomile is good for bedtime.
I focus on clean-eating and consuming as much fruit and vegetables as possible, whole-grains, proteins and healthy fats, as well as regular exercise and sufficient rest and listening to what my body wants and needs. Being a strict Vegetarian, I also consume a highly Vegan diet as I only have eggs and cheese on few occasions, therefore I need to pay special attention to what I am eating to make sure I consume what my body needs. As I said I focus on eating as much fruits and vegetables as possible, which mainly includes leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale as they provide you with plenty of Vitamin K and C, but also broccoli, beetroot and bell peppers are all high up on the nutritious list, also sweet potatoes are a favourite of mine as not only do they taste good and they are super versatile, they are also provide more Vitamin A and C, fewer calories, few carbs and more fibre than white potatoes, but really I just prefer the sweeter taste. Un-refined whole-grains are best for you as they are in their most natural state therefore having a higher nutritional content and lower GI level and these grains include Quinoa, Bulgur Wheat, Buckwheat, Barley (to name a few). Being a Vegetarian and Vegan can mean that proteins aren’t as readily available as for meat-eaters and you have to have a rough knowledge on what to substitute these for but this isn’t to say that it isn’t easy to still eat enough proteins, and for me this includes Legumes (lentils and beans), Quinoa, Nuts, Tofu, Seitan, Meat Substitutes, Seeds and Protein Powder. Lastly, heart healthy fats is also what I focus on as a low-fat diet isn’t recommended but concentrating on lowering saturated fats and instead having unsaturated fats such as Nuts, Seeds, Avocado and Olive Oil have the ability to lower cholesterol = win win!
Anyway, this is all just the very basics that I have learnt along my journey and the opinions are my own and are the lifestyle I have come to follow. I haven’t got an education in nutrition or body science, but just a very basic understanding that has changed my way of living and how I think about food.