With winter on its way out, spring is a great time to change bad habits, particularly in terms of diet and exercise. As a nation we’re reminded on a regular basis how important it is to stay active and consume a healthy diet, but with so much information published on the topic it’s difficult to know where to begin. To help you on your way to a healthier you, we’ve compiled a short blog on what to keep in mind when changing your diet and how those changes can make you feel better in the long run.
Lets start with the benefits. Choosing the right food to eat is an integral part of feeling better inside, and looking physically better on the outside, with the belief that ‘you are what you eat’ a great way to help you stay motivated on your health journey. Changing your diet for the better can lead to increased mental awareness, high energy levels, resistance to illness and disease, faster recuperation times, emotional and hormonal balance, and a better management of chronic ailments such as diabetes – all of that just through a few swaps and adjustments! But it’s not just the obvious benefits that’re important – did you know that intakes of healthy proteins boost your resistance to stress, anxiety and depression? So what do you have to do to reap the multiple benefits? It’s really as simple as altering your choices and expanding your tastes.
The first place to make any changes in your diet is the amount of fruit and vegetables consumed. The NHS recommend aiming for five different portions a day, whether they be from frozen, fresh, tinned, dried or juiced produce. Packed with vitamins and minerals, the more colourful the mix the better, as different fruits and veg provide important nutrients, and a change in texture and flavour stop your taste buds from becoming bored.
When it comes to meat products, it’s advised that you stick to non-processed, natural products, such as fresh cuts or fish. Include meat, chicken, fish or eggs, beans, lentils and nuts in two of your daily meals to feel the benefits, including the reduction of muscle loss, helping you to maintain your strength. Oily fish such as salmon and fresh tuna are full of omega 3, a fatty acid which can help prevent heart disease, yet another hidden benefit of a healthy diet. For vegetarians, try healthy meat substitutes such as Quorn, packed full of protein and other important nutrients.
Similar in terms of the benefits gained, dairy products are important in providing vital calcium, a mineral used to keep bones strong. Aim for three servings a day and pick lower fat options, such as skimmed milk, low fat cheese, and reduced sugar yogurt. Doctors have also suggested that lower fat options can help lower cholesterol – another bonus!
The final part of your healthy diet plan comes from carbohydrates, the source of all your energy. Aim for a portion with every meal, whether it be from low sugar cereal, wholegrain bread, or brown rice and pasta. Wholewheat and wholegrain options are better sources of fibre, a key mineral that helps maintain bowel health.
Alongside all of this, don’t forget to keep hydrated! Try to drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water a day, whether it comes from tea, coffee, fruit juice or reduced sugar squash. Keeping hydrated can reduce constipation, dry-mouth, headaches, tiredness and irritability, as well as working wonders for your skin.
Taking slow, easy steps in adapting your diet can lead to more permanent changes along the way, transforming your life and the way you feel. Of course, if you’ve got any questions or are still unsure where to start, ask your doctor or a dietitian for more advice.