Healthy eating can seem like an impossible task. How do you change the eating habits that you’ve engrained into your daily routine for so long? And given today’s fast-paced lifestyle, you might not have a daily eating routine at all.
You might be part of the stressed-out culture of people who roll out of bed after pressing snooze for the third time and jump in the shower while trying to get the kids out bed. You manage to get the kids to school in time for you to stop for a coffee on the way to work, and then get stuck at your desk for most of the day without giving much thought to food. This is when unhealthy food choices tend to happen such as the takeaway pizza your colleague bought, or a quick sandwich you get from the canteen.
These are all daily food habits that you might not even realise you’re doing. You might even think that choosing that sandwich from the canteen is the healthy option.
“Incorporating healthy eating into your daily routine isn’t as difficult as you may think.”
We lead hectic workday lives, with little time to prepare healthy meals. Healthy eating will require some planning, but it will be well worth it. And once you get into your new eating routine, you will feel good, energised, sleep better and start looking great.
What to eat?
Incorporating healthy eating into your daily routine isn’t as difficult as you may think. You will still have those days when you eat the office pizza, but those will be the exception. Allow yourself some leeway on weekends. This is about easy, healthy eating for during the week when you’re super busy. And for this, you will need some food hack help.
Healthy food hack #1: Cook enough dinner for lunch the next day
This is the easiest way to a healthy lunch. Healthy breakfasts and lunches are the two meals that most people struggle with. We tend to eat good dinners, as it’s the one meal of the day that gets the attention it deserves, so make a bit more and everyone can get some lunch. Stick to meat and vegetables, or carb-clever alternatives like zucchini (baby marrow) pasta if you love your pasta. Avoid starchy food for dinner, like pasta, pizza, rice or bread. The same healthy dinner will now be your healthy lunch for the next day. Easy!
Healthy food hack #2: Ditch the cereal
Breakfast cereals really only have one thing going for them – convenience. They’re refined, full of sugar and offer little more nutrients than the box they come in. There are so many better alternatives out there, comprising of roasted nuts, seeds, coconut, goji berries and other delicious and nutritious ingredients. All About Health makes a great one available in most health stores, and Woolworths also offers a great range.
Add some full cream plain yoghurt, milk, or coconut milk or any other non-dairy alternative. I add fresh berries and cinnamon to mine and my four-year-old daughter’s, and we both love it! If you’re allergic to nuts, stick to plain rolled oats. It’s still a grain, which is not the best, but is still better than any cereal.
Healthy food hack #3: Replace crackers, bread and pizza bases
Grains are not good for humans. You would never eat wild grass, so why do you want to eat it in your loaf of bread? Yes, it’s cleverly disguised as something delicious, but bread’s main ingredient is flour. Flour comes from wheat and wheat is grass. Wheat is, therefore, the main ingredient in most crackers, pizza bases and pastas.
Without getting too technical, grains are turned into sugar when we eat them and we don’t want all this sugar in our bloodstream for several reasons. Sugar gets converted into fat. High levels of sugar in our bloodstream cause our bodies to hold on to existing fat. High sugar levels can cause type 2 diabetes and many other health problems.
There are many non-flour-based alternatives on the market. It might take you a while to get used to them, but once you notice the positive effects they have, you’ll never look back. This is not to say you can’t still enjoy the occasional pizza, but it just won’t be the norm. Stick to almond flour or coconut flour alternatives. They will generally say ‘carb clever’ or ‘low carb’ on the label. Seed crackers are a fantastic alternative to the regular kind.
Healthy food hack #4: Eat plain, full cream dairy
Not everyone can eat dairy, so if you don’t, or can’t, great. If you can and you like it, that’s fine too. So long as you stick to dairy in its most natural form. We don’t all own farms and don’t get to milk our own cows, but try and get as close to it as possible. Stick to full-cream, organic milk and dairy products. Full cream, plain, unsweetened and unflavoured is the only way to go. Remember that milk already has sugar in it in the form of lactose, so you don’t need to add any more sugar or sweetener. This will change your taste buds and possibly your life, you’ll see.
Healthy food hack #5: Goodbye juice
I’ve left the best for last here, and probably the most difficult for people to do. I’ve found over the years that my clients that come to me with the hopes of bettering their nutrition struggle with this one the most. And they reap the greatest rewards if they can stick to cutting juice and all sweetened liquid out of their life.
Once again, it’s not to say you can’t enjoy a Coke with your brandy, but it shouldn’t be your go-to drink. What constitutes juice? Pretty much everything that is sweetened, even vitamin water. Rather stick to water with mint and lemon, or homemade iced tea with no added sugar.
If you incorporate these five health food hacks into your life, you will notice a difference within the first three weeks. It will cost a bit more, but it will be well worth it.
As a health and wellness coach, Saskia V is the owner of Whole Again Health, a holistic business that offers health and wellness consulting, nutritional advice, personal training and sports massage therapy. She is an expert in the field of health and wellness, and can speak confidently on any topics relating to this area. Saskia has also been nominated for two MTN Radio Awards.