My Top 5 Healthy Eating Tips is the first in a series of posts in which I’m sharing how I lost over 30 pounds and became fitter and stronger than I have ever been. None of these posts should be considered medical advice. Always consult your doctor before making changes to your diet or beginning a new exercise regime.
Before I share my Top 5 Healthy Eating Tips, I need to tell you something.
If you want to lose weight and keep it off, there is no fast, magical, easy way to do it. It took me 18 months to go from a UK size 14 to a UK size 8 (that’s a US size 12 to a US size 6).
Fad diets, ‘weight loss cocktails’ (like the cayenne pepper, maple syrup and lemon juice combo), and fasting might make you lose weight quickly, but it’s very likely the weight will just come straight back on. Worse, repeated yo-yo dieting can also make it harder to lose weight in the long term.
Losing weight sustainably takes thought, time and effort, but it’s definitely do-able. Exercise played a huge role in my transformation but it all starts with looking at how and what you eat. (I’ll share more about the exercise side of things in another post in this series.)
My Top 5 Healthy Eating Tips are simple, straight-forward, and easy to incorporate into your every day life.
My Top 5 Healthy Eating Tips
Protein forms the building blocks that make up your body – your bones, muscles, skin and blood. You need protein to function properly, and you should eat a source of protein with every meal. Eggs, yogurt, fish, meat, poultry, nuts, beans and pulses like chickpeas all contain protein.
When you are meal planning, think about the protein first, and then build the rest of the meal around it.
Cut Down on the Amount of Bread and Pasta You Eat
Although this was the healthy eating tip I resisted the most, simply cutting back to eating bread only once or twice a week was one of the pivotal decisions I made in my weight loss journey.
Don’t panic. I said ‘cut down’, not eliminate – and I’m being very specific about bread and pasta here, not grains.
Nobody wants to give up bread and pasta completely unless they absolutely have to. And please don’t eliminate grains unless you need to be on a gluten free diet for health reasons. Grains for a vital part of a healthy diet, and contain lots of vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Pasta is a treat, something that should usually be served alongside or as a small part of a protein-based dish. It’s fine to eat it from time to time, but if you find yourself making pasta dishes more than once or twice a week, as I was, you may need to re-think.
When it comes to bread, think beyond the sandwich. Sandwich fillings can form a great basis for a salad, and honestly, there are lots of other lunch choices including egg dishes (like omelettes, avocado toast with poached egg and frittatas), stand-alone salads, or veggie and pulse packed soups.
Lower carbohydrate crisp breads like Ryvita or Wasa brand can be delicious carriers for what used to be sandwich fillings. Have a wrap instead of a sandwich, or eat your sandwiches open-faced with just one piece of bread.
When I do eat bread, I choose wholegrain, spelt, rye and/or sourdough breads that are easier on the digestion. With a shorter rise time and the addition of additives, many modern breads really are not very good for us at all. You will fine that once you get used to hearty artisanal breads, you will really enjoy them,. In fact, I now find that some of the breads I used to love don’t seem like they have any flavour at all.
Eat Lots of Fruit, Vegetables, Herbs and Spices
Eating lots of fruit and vegetables definitely helped me lose weight. Fruit and vegetables are filling, full of good for you nutrients and are tasty too. Peas, kale, mushrooms, spinach, broccoli and avocado all contain protein as well.
Many advocates of the ‘clean eating’ movement maintain that fruit is too high in sugar to form part of a healthy diet. I disagree. Fruit is full of vitamins and it feels like a treat because it tastes good.
Fresh herbs and spices can really enhance the flavours in your food without adding a lot of calories, and some spices (like chilis) may even help increase your metabolism.
Include Healthy Fats in Your Diet
Sensible portions of healthy fats from a vital part of a healthy diet. They can form part of a healthy weight loss plan too. Examples include coconut oil, walnut oil, rapeseed oil (the kind that is not genetically modified), avocado oil and olive oil.
Avocados and nuts contain healthy fats as do many types of fish, especially salmon and mackerel.
When it comes to avocado and nuts, you need to watch your portions. Half an avocado will serve one generously and 20 to 30 grams (roughly an ounce) of nuts is a good size serving.
In the proper quantities, not only can healthy fats help you lose weight but they also make your hair, skin and nails look amazing!
Watch Portion Sizes
Portion sizes in most restaurants and private homes have gone a bit crazy. We are eating so much more than we used to and indeed much more than we need. A good food scale can really help with portion control.
Also, try and avoid really big meals except on special occasions. Eating little and often (3 medium meals and 2 to 3 small snacks each day) can help keep energy levels up and aid weight loss. If your body feels empty it will hold on to the next meal or snack it has. Eating regularly may even help you burn more calories.
See? My Top 5 Healthy Eating Tips really are easy! Introduce one or two a week and it’s likely you will see a change in no time. Watch this space for more posts about my journey to a fitter, healthier body – and for great tips that may help you too!