In the days of long ago, people used to eat right. They fuelled themselves with high protein food, and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables – a balanced food pyramid. Nowadays, our health is seriously under threat due to our sedentary lifestyles and what we consume.
At the first sign of any possible health issue or disease, doctors would always advise their patients to start on a strict diet regimen first before starting on any medication. Why? This is because food is always the first remedy to prevent disease progression. What many people fail to see is the importance of that first step, and the control they have over their own bodies.
Of course, not many can change their lifestyle drastically but this can be achieved moderately. Healthy food does not necessarily have to bore you and be tasteless. You can still have your nasi lemak, char kuey teow, briyani but in moderation and to also substitute some ingredients with healthier alternatives.
Here are few tips on how you can start a healthier lifestyle:
Cook with healthier alternatives
For example, instead of using coconut milk laden with high saturated fats that will cause your LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) to rocket sky high, you can substitute it with low fat milk.
Use olive oil or coconut oil. It’s hard to rave enough about the heart-healthy benefits of olive oil. Consuming olive oil helps to lower LDL cholesterol level and helps to maintain the HDL/LDL ratio.
Use natural sugars rather than processed sugar
Sugar is undeniably bad for your health and can lead to diabetes, obesity and others, but it does not mean you can’t have sugar. Switch your processed sugar with healthier natural sugar alternatives such as stevia, agave nectar and honey.
Drink healthy smoothies instead of milkshakes
You can use low fat milk with a scoop of protein powder to make a smoothie that’s as good as a milkshake. You’ll get a good total of 15g protein easily and it will have you feeling energetic. Support local produce – here are 15 local ingredients for your green smoothie.
Choose the right carbs
Consume foods that don’t cause your blood sugar to spike such as whole wheat bread or pasta, brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes and so on – foods that rank low on the glycemic index. They will also keep you feeling full for longer. Or if you need to shed some kilos, swap your usual carbohydrates for these low-calories carb-stitutes!
We have the tendency to reach out for something quick and unhealthy when hunger pangs strike. Make sure to always have easy bite-sized snack packs on you, in your bag or even at work. A small pack of nuts, almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds or some dried fruits are not only packed with nutrients but will reduce your cravings for unhealthy munchies.
Eat real food
One of the biggest steps in starting a healthy lifestyle is to gradually eliminate processed foods, refined carbohydrates and carbonated drinks from your home. Eat whole foods such as fruits and vegetables, meat, whole grains and milk. Here’s a general rule of thumb, if it grows from the ground or is directly from an animal, it’s real food. Whether to go organic or not, we’ll leave the final decision to you.
Read nutrition labels
Often times, we don’t take time to read the nutrition label on a food. Knowing what goes into your body is as important as avoiding unhealthy foods. Make it a habit to read the nutrition label and make a comparison before purchasing any food item. Ensure you get the most nutrients from what you eat.
Make healthy dressings and sauces
A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or a squeeze of lemon will give your food that extra flavour. Avoid ketchup, soy sauce, and all bottled sauces that are often packed with preservatives. Try making these simple and easy salad dressings at home!
Consume adequate fibre
Yes, get as much fibre as you can in a day. According to the Institute of Medicine, women need 25 grams per day and men need 38 grams per day. You may be surprised to know that on average, only 10-15 grams of fibre are consumed daily. Fibre helps to curb overeating and helps with digestive health. Find them in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds.
Fuel yourself with H20
You probably have heard this a zillion times – keep yourself well-hydrated. As simple as it sounds, many of us are guilty of not drinking enough water in a day as it is easily forgotten when one is busy. Our body is composed of approximately 70% water. Water aids in your digestion, metabolism, excretion and pretty much everything your body does. What you can do to make drinking water a little more fun, you can make fruit infused waters or fruity ice cubes to add a healthy zing to your swigs. Keep an alarm reminder to get make sure you get in at least 8 cups of water a day.