hate strongly disapprove of the “healthy living gurus” that are so prevalent at the moment, preaching to people how they should live their lives. In my opinion, it’s great to be healthy but it’s also important to avoid depriving oneself. I intend to write two no-nonsense posts and share my easy health habits; the first (this one!) relating to diet and the second exercise/physical activity. I must warn you, there will be no gratuitous photos of avocados or of myself practising an advanced yoga post in an exotic location. These tips are not healthy in the extreme sense; this is my idea of what a healthy attitude to food and drink is, from my own experience.
Healthy Eating Habits
- Olive oil as a salad dressing. It’s full of goodness, wholesome and tastes delicious drizzled over Italian cherry tomatoes in your salad (my key ingredients are rocket, babyleaf, red onion, sweet peppers and sweetcorn) with some mixed herbs. I generally eat a salad most days for lunch or dinner, it’s such an easy way to get your vitamins.
- Butter is better. Margarine is highly processed and full of additives; butter is much tastier and you should end up using far less than margarine on your bread.
- Porridge for breakfast. I have started eating porridge recently, after a long break, and am thoroughly enjoying all the different flavours you can pack in! I use coconut or almond milk with my porridge but any milk will do. It fills you up and is a scrummy, cheap breakfast. My favourite flavours are stewed apples (apples chopped and cooked over a hob) with cinnamon or mashed banana and blueberries.
- Water. As a kid, I couldn’t stand water! I drank gallons of fizzy pop and orange juice before one day, aged 14 or so, I decided to go cold turkey and replace the lot with water. At first, it was hard; water can taste so bland to someone with a massive sweet tooth! I gradually became more reliant on water and craved it when thirsty, rather than anything else. You don’t have to go over the top but I try to drink 8 glasses a day and have gotten into the habit of filtering my water, thanks to my boyfriend. It’s the first thing I drink in the morning and the last thing I drink at night. Your skin will love you.
- Sweet potatoes. These little beauties are one of my favourite foods! I love white potatoes too but do substitute them for sweet potatoes a lot of the time. They are inexpensive and absolutely delicious, particularly when baked whole (skin on) and served with butter. I achieved the impossible a couple of weeks ago and made crispy sweet potato fries by soaking them in cold water for an hour before cooking and then coating lightly in cornflour. Sweet potatoes are one of the most nourishing foods in my diet, I never get tired of cooking with them!
- A little tipple won’t harm you. I savour having a few drinks over the weekend (I don’t drink during the week!) and Prosecco is a current favourite; team with a drop of Chambord raspberry liquor for an easy, elegant cocktail. The key is to prepare drinks you can enjoy slowly and try to avoid bingeing (most of us have done it…). Drinking water in between alcoholic drinks will help to keep you hydrated.
- Listen to your body. A few months ago, after a particularly heavy deep-crust pizza shared with my boyfriend, I felt dreadful all night and throughout the next day. Sluggish, bloated and nauseous. I love pizza but generally only have a couple of slices of thin crust at once, so my body reacted to this massive gluten overdose with dismay! As a result, I’ve learnt my lesson and avoid heavy bread-based meals, particularly in the evening; I’m certainly not gluten-intolerant but a large amount doesn’t suit my body. Listening to your body is so important, especially when it comes to recognising when your appetite is satisfied or noticing an unusual feeling.
- Sugar is sugar. I always have chocolate in the house and have a real sweet tooth, so there’s no way I’m going to lecture anyone about avoiding sugar! This simply relates to keeping your eye on “healthier” options, as peddled by numerous health bloggers, like maple and agave syrup. Sugar is sugar. Watch the amount you’re consuming, in whatever form it is packaged.
- Wholegrain is good. By making small changes to your meals, you can make things easier on your body. I cook brown basmati rice with curry and buy wholegrain bread on occasion (if you can, try to stick to a maximum of two slices per day) for toast or sandwiches.
- Don’t beat yourself up. If you want a slice of chocolate cake, go and cut it (try to always make your own cakes; you will note the ingredients list on a shop-bought cake is enormous and full of preservatives). If you want three glasses of red wine and a rich plate of Italian food, cook and savour it. Love and honour your body with nourishing food. Avoid ready meals wherever possible; not only are they expensive, they’re often full of preservatives/additives which wouldn’t be there if you cooked from scratch.
There you have it. Most are incredibly obvious and, although you may not agree with some, they are the key tips I’ve kept in mind when planning meals, eating cake and drinking a bloody big glass of wine. They’ve worked for me and I would love to hear your healthy eating tips in return!