I always say “healthy doesn’t have to be hard” and that means taking things slowly, adopting new habits one by one, and being patient with yourself. Start making changes gradually – perhaps one per week for a month – rather than rushing to do everything at once and feeling overwhelmed. Here are five steps I find help people start to make changes and revolutionise their everyday routine…
Slowly eliminate the white, refined foods from your kitchen – white bread, white pasta, white rice – and instead, try out all the good grain alternatives and non-wheat choices. There are plenty of options out there including quinoa, buckwheat, millet, teff and amaranth. Instead of the traditional loaf, there’s rye bread, spelt bread, buckwheat bread, and even quinoa breads now.
For flour, you can try coconut flour, almond flour, quinoa flour and buckwheat flour, amongst others. And, when making your favourite pasta dishes, instead of using the stodgy traditional white kind, there are so many delicious alternatives now made of brown rice, spelt, quinoa and kamut (my favourite). Or why not use a spiralizer to make vegetable spirals out of zucchini, carrot or squash that double up as noodles? Try it, you just might like it!
3. LESS MEAT, MORE PLANTS
We definitely need to eat less meat – as a world. In the last four decades, meat production has tripled worldwide, with an increase of 20% in the last 10 years. This not only has an incredibly negative impact on the environment, but also on human health. It’s time we start eating less meat. I’m not saying you have to be vegan, I’m just saying let’s all try to eat less meat every week. Whether that’s adopting #MeatlessMondays in your house or simply by putting plants at the heart of your plate more often. Rather than seeing them as a ‘side dish’, it is time to start making plants the main feature. They should take up at least 70%, with the remaining 30% available for proteins.
3. ALL ABOUT THE PLANT MILK
People still drink a lot of dairy, but it isn’t our only choice. There are plenty of terrific, plant-based milk options available that still give you that creamy, satisfying result. Learn how to make nut milks at home (I promise it’s not hard!) or look for all the dairy-free substitutes now available at your local stores – but be sure to choose the ones without tons of additives, sugars and filler. The less ingredients, the better!
4. SAY NO TO SUGAR
According to the NHS, the average person in Britain currently consumes approximately 700g of sugar a week – which works out to be about 140 teaspoons. Yet experts claim our bodies can only handle half of that or less per week. This is leading to an endemic of serious health problems.
We need to start eliminating sugar from our diet and, as well as cutting out sugary and processed snacks, we need to educate ourselves on where sugar is hidden. Look out for words such as glucose, fructose, lactose and maltose (basically anything ending in ‘ose’). See the full list here. Some surprise offenders for high-sugar foods include cereals, dressings, marinades, energy bars, juices, yoghurt, pasta sauces, soups, syrups and flavoured water.
5. MIX & MATCH
When we do the same exercise repeatedly, our bodies don’t respond as well as if we mix things up. Plus it’s great for our minds to have new challenges to face. One key to burning more fat and building muscle and strength is to add variety to your workouts and keep surprising your body with new challenges. So if you always run, try an interval class or a spin class instead. And if you’re a yoga bunny, give a barre class or a Pilates class a try. Open your mind to new types of exercise and you will see the results in your stamina, fitness level and body.
Have you got little ones and want to get them involved too? Here’s 8 ways to change your children’s eating habits. It’s never too late!