Eating healthily can be one of the most difficult parts of staying healthy. And with so much information out there, from fad diets to insta-nutritionists, it is difficult to know where to start.
Our resident dietitian Chris Wasley has over 20 years’ experience working with an evidence-based approach, using tried and tested methods to help people eat better. We asked her to share some easy ways you can create a healthier lifestyle through nutrition, without launching into a restrictive diet or jumping on the quick-fix miracle-cure bandwagon.
“I’ve found people can feel very overwhelmed with the huge amount of dietary information that is out there,” says Chris. “My advice is to make small, gradual and realistic changes to your food choices and the way you eat rather than go the complete overhaul.”
Here are 6 of her tips to get you started:
1. Enjoy 2 or more vegetarian meals each week
Vegetarian and vegan diets are gaining momentum the world, especially for their lower impact on the environment. But there are also health benefits.
Swapping out meat protein for vegetarian options can decrease the risk of heart disease from consuming saturated fats and can help you increase your vegetable intake – see point 2.
Chris says: “Plan these meals around meat replacements like legumes, nuts or eggs. Having a variety of different protein sources like this is both good for your body and good for the planet.”
2. 2 ½ cups a day keeps the doctor away
2.5 cups of vegetables, that is. Adding more vegetables to your diet is a great way to lower cholesterol and get many of the vitamins and nutrients your body needs to function at its best.
Chris says: “Aim for at least 2.5 cups vegetables everyday… if that’s a big ask, start small by adding an extra 1/2 cup and increase it gradually over a few months.”
3. Fats are not all bad
Gone are the days where low and no-fat diets were considered healthy. Fats are essential for healthy brain, nerve and heart function and for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (Vitamins A, D, E and K).
It’s more important to focus on the type of fat consumed. Unsaturated fats should make up the majority of your fat intake and saturated fats should make up only a minimal part of your diet.
Chris says: “Don’t be frightened of fat! Include healthy fats in your diet every day from foods like olive oil, nuts, seeds, fish and avocado.”
4. Flavour your meals the old fashioned way
When you’re trying to cook food that will satisfy you and your tastebuds (and ensure the fussy eaters are happy), it can be tempting to reach for the salt or processed foods to add flavour. But you should resist this temptation and instead cook with flavourings that don’t have negative side effects.
Chris says: “Flavour your meals with spices, garlic, ginger and fresh and dried herbs – pull out the dusty cook books or search online and try a new herb or spice combo once a month and add that to you everyday mix of meals. This will help you use less salt and rely less on processed foods.”
5. Use the 90:10 rule
The 90:10 rule means that you eat healthy foods 90% of the time and allow 10% for treats and is designed so that you can have treat foods in small amounts over the week.
Chris says: “Having forbidden favourite foods can make them all the more hard to resist and leads to overconsumption, followed by guilt. Enjoy your favourite treat (mine is chocolate) in small amounts, chew it well or let it sit in your mouth longer for greater satisfaction.”
6. Eat slowly
Eating slowly has gained the attention of mindfulness followers the world around, and for good reason!
Chris says: “Eating slowly allows more time to enjoy the taste of your meals and snacks, helps you feel more satisfied and makes you less likely to overeat or go back for seconds. You can also make the choice easier by plating up meals on small dinner plates and putting leftovers away immediately knowing you can enjoy the great taste again tomorrow.”
Chris Wasley joins us on High Country Haven retreats to provide her wealth of experience on nutrition and how you can make it part of your everyday lifestyle.
You can find out more about our upcoming retreats here.