So you want to improve your nutrition? I often get asked “What do you eat?” “Do I need to stick to a diet?” “How can I improve my nutrition” The answers? I eat everything (except black liquorish, because I hate it!) I think you need to be mindful of what you put in your mouth, but no diets please. Let me tell you how I think you can improve your nutrition in ten simple steps!
LEARN TO READ FOOD LABELS
In Australia that the ingredients are listed in order from greatest to smallest by weight. Know what you are REALLY eating by learning to read the label
- Less ingredients usually = less processed – less processed = healthier option
- Aim for 10 grams of sugar / 100g OR LESS
- Aim for packaged foods with ingredients you can pronounce!
This simple guide from the Australian Government will help you understand how to read food labels (It’s a PDF- NOT a long document – just take a look for yourself and see)
JUST EAT REAL FOOD!
Food that comes from an animal, the ground, or off a tree are the foods that nourish our body. EAT MORE REAL FOOD! Of course even the food that come from these sources vary in nutritional content. If you want to learn LOADS of excellent nutrition tips visit The Natural Nutritionist. Here Stephanie (the natural nutritionist) will help you learn things like Surprising high calcium foods that aren’t dairy and ‘Healthy’ foods that you should be avoiding‘
HALVE YOUR SUGAR
Sugar is the ‘killer’ in many of our diets. Why?
- It’s addictive.
- It’s is the leading contributor to obesity.
- Over time, it causes people to consume more calories because it has a poor effect on satiety (how full you feel after you eat). Sugar contains no essential fats / proteins/ minerals or vitamins and is basically ’empty calories’ for your body.
- Sugar can cause insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes and metabolic syndromes.
- Sugar is high in fructose. Fructose is not produced by our bodies in any significant amount. Our bodies don’t have a high demand for it. Fructose is metabolised by our liver, where it is turned into glycogen. There it is stored to be used at a later time. If however, glycogen supplies are full, it turns into fat. Ultimately, sugar puts a high demand on your liver and can lead to fatty liver disease and other metabolic problems.
Halve your sugar and improve your nutrition. Do you usually add sugar to your tea/coffee? If this has been a habit for many years it can be very difficult to shake! Try to halve your sugar and keep cutting back by small amounts each and every day/week.
Do you love to cook with traditional recipes? Next time you bake use only half the amount of sugar that is called for. You may be surprised how great (and sweet) your baking still tastes!
Read this related article
VEGETABLES FOR BREAKFAST
Did you know that up to 90% of Aussies don’t eat enough veg? SCARY STUFF! Trying to add more vegetables to your day can be challenging! How bout you kickstart your day with a dose of veggies? This will also mean that you are eating more REAL FOOD! Boom! Some suggestions are:
- 3 egg omelette + veg
- Avo, Tomato, capsicum, red onion on rye
- Green juice / smoothie
ADD VEG TO A MEAL (YOU NORMALLY WOULD’T)
Keeping with the theme of increasing your vegetable intake, challenge yourself to add vegetables to every meal. Quite simply More Veg = Improved Nutrition! For example why not load up your pasta dishes with added vegetable. I choose carrot, zucchini, capsicum, extra tomatoes and serve on a bed of spinach leaves. Grating vegetables can be a great (pardon the pun) way to get more into each meal. Chop them, slice them, blitz them, however you do it ADD THEM!
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EAT ALL THE COLOURS OF THE RAINBOW
Don’t just ‘eat your greens’ , eat your reds, yellows and oranges too! As I mentioned earlier, all foods have different nutritional value and contain different vitamins and minerals. Try to eat a wide variety of colour in your diet to ensure you are getting a good dose of what your body needs.
TRY BAKING WITH A SUGAR ALTERNATIVE
The BEST sugar alternatives I know of are:
- Rice Malt Syrup
- Medjool Dates
You can also try honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar – though it can feel ‘gritty’ in your baking if it’s not milled super finely. If your happy to experiment in the kitchen like me, you can try using the recipes you already know and love, and simply replace the sugar. If your not so confident, peruse the net for the enormous number of FREE recipes. My favourite recipes are from Steph at The Natural Nutritionist and Emily from RawEmTreats.
ENJOY GUILT FREE TREATS!
We need to eat for nutrition, but we also eat for joy and pleasure. Have you ever planned to go on a diet on Monday? Sunday comes and you want to EAT ALL THE FOODS!! I believe that complete restriction is what makes us fail a LOT of the time when it comes to healthy habits. In fact I have read studies that prove this. Two groups were challenged to an eating plan. Both groups were invited to a party. Group A was allowed to enjoy a piece of cake guilt free. Group B was informed NOT to eat any cake. The results? Group A ate their one piece of cake and were satisfied. A large percentage of Group B ended up eating the cake, and then ceasing their ‘diet’ because they felt as though they had ‘failed’. I strongly encourage you to follow the 80/20 rule. 80% good 20% whatever you want!
LEAN WHAT FOODS MAKE ‘SATISFIED’
Satiety = Feeling full for a length of time. Foods make you feel satisfied, without leaving you feeling bloated are good foods for you. This can be very individual. So it’s up to you to take note of what foods leave you feeling good, and what foods you want to avoid. Learning to listen to your bodies reaction to food is key. The human body is SO smart and our bodies are always giving us clues, we need to listen.
DRINK MORE WATER
Usually by the time we are actually thirsty we are already dehydrated. Personally I think that we just get a bit too ‘busy’ sometimes and forget to drink enough. Try these simple tips
- Take a bottle of water with you wherever you go – have one on your desk at work
- Pour yourself a glass of water with every meal
- Eat foods with high water content – e.g. celery and cucumber
- Add sliced fruit to your water to make it more appealing.
Trying just a couple of these tips and then slowly adding others is a fantastic way to help ensure longevity in your healthy eating. The aim is to make healthy eating part of your lifestyle. It should never feel like a ‘chore’. Ditch the diet girl, and you will feel much better off both in your body and in your mind x
Don’t forget to grab your Nutrition handout!
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