3 easy food habits for a better you

The general guidelines for following a healthy lifestyle are fairly simple.
The general guidelines for following a healthy lifestyle are fairly simple.
Image: Gino Santa Maria/123RF

The odds are you already know a healthy lifestyle incorporates exercise, nutritious food and cuts out excess alcohol and smoking. We are reminded of this on an almost daily basis, if not in the form of vegan meal options or pesky salespeople trying to sell gym memberships, then someone’s uber-healthy Instagram posts or Tweets.

Sometimes, the rules of what to do and not do become overwhelming. One minute eggs are good and the next they’re bad; now we can drink copious amounts of coffee but tomorrow we read we can’t. For this reason, a recent visit to Discovery’s Vitality HealthyFood Studio served as a good refresher of the general guidelines to follow in making healthy lifestyle choices. The basic premise? Buy better, cook more often and eat healthier - three tips that, if incorporated into your daily life, will lead to a healthier you without much fuss.

1. Buy better

A few simple food buying choices can make a big difference in the long run. As a rule, the less processed food is, the better. Fill your shopping basket with more fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables and avoid cereals, breads and crackers that are loaded with sugar and salt. Opt for wholegrain, unrefined foods that are high in fibre. Canned beans, lentils and chickpeas in brine are easy, healthy and cheap options to boost your protein intake and they can be rinsed to remove excess sodium. Google has plenty of recipes if you’re unsure how to incorporate these foods into your diet.

2. Cook more often

Cooking more frequently, instead of resorting to convenience foods, comes with a host of health benefits, including giving you control over the food you prepare and how you prepare it. If you do decide to eat out, ask yourself whether you are making the healthiest choice of eatery and make this an occasional event. A delicious meal in a restaurant, prepared using fresh and sustainable ingredients, enjoyed in the company of friends or family, offers far more value than a take-away – not only in terms of nutrition but also as a way to unwind and connect with people.

3. Eat healthier

“Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognise as food.” This snippet of advice from American writer Michael Pollan speaks to the unhealthiness of processed foods. “When you eat something with 15 ingredients you can't pronounce, ask yourself, ‘What are those things doing there?’ Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients or ingredients you can't pronounce.”

Apart from making better choices about the foods you eat, also consider how you eat. Do not eat mindlessly, sitting at your desk, browsing through your phone or watching TV. Take time to consider what you are eating in order for your brain to register that you are feeding your body. It will not only mean more satisfaction, it will foster a better relationship with food.

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