Good nutrition is key to a healthy diet, and a healthy you. To kick the New Year off, here are 10 nutritional “commandments” you should follow to begin a new lifestyle.
Thou Shall Eat More Fruits and Veggies
It seems as if the fancy food trends have led us to forget about our body’s basic need – fruits and vegetables. According to research, the more fruits and vegetables you eat – which should be about 5 a day – the fewer your chances of health problems such as cancer, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. This year, your resolution should include an increase in the amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet to maintain good health – just remember to buy packaged items without any added oil, sugar or salt. Besides being good for the inside, consider how pretty and colorful fruits and veggies make your meal plate look.
Every little change counts! Put dried fruit in your sandwich or chicken salad; add spinach to your lasagna; mushrooms and onions in your omelet. It doesn’t have to be complicated. The simplest of changes and additions will bring you closer to your goals.
Thou Shall Eat More Healthy Fats
It has become more common knowledge that we should consume more of the heart-healthy unsaturated fat and less of saturated fat. Unsaturated fat decreases inflammation in our body, which lowers the risk of diseases and increases the ability fight diseases. All fats aren’t healthy, but all fats aren’t bad for you either. Your body needs fat to function. Of your total daily calories, 25%-30% should come from fat. Unsaturated fats lower the bad LDL cholesterol and protect against the buildup of plaque in your arteries. According to research, they also prevent belly fat!
Where will you find unsaturated fat? The answer includes the majority of readily available food items: peanuts, olives and olive oil, almonds, cashews, peanut butter, avocados and sesame seeds.
Avoid the ugly trans-fat! That’s something you want to completely avoid. Trans-fat increases the risk of heart disease. Did you know that manufacturers are allowed to claim “zero trans-fat” if a serving of their product has 0.5 grams of trans-fat?
Thou Shall Have More Protein in the Morning
Let’s face it. Life has gotten quite fast-paced. This means that most of our protein is consumed in the latter half of the day. Protein helps keep the body energized, and our bodies constantly use protein throughout the day. According to certain studies, people who have their protein intake balanced throughout the day are more successful when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight.
How shall thou start? Consume 25% of your daily protein needs at breakfast. For someone eating 1,200 calories a day, that is 15grams. Include foods such as hard-boiled eggs, Greek yoghurt, fat-free yoghurt and cheese (made from 2% milk) in the morning. You can add almonds to your cereal or diced chicken to your eggs to achieve this goal!
Thou Shall Get More Vitamin D
Vitamin D is very important for bone health. It also protects against colds and depression according to recent studies. If you do not spend enough sun, which the average Pakistani woman tries to avoid, your body has trouble absorbing the vitamin. Here are some ways to increase your vitamin D level. Sunlight! Now don’t go baking in the sun because that has its own set of risks attached. However, a little bit of sun exposure – outdoors, without sunscreen – can do the trick!
But the sun is least likely to be a good source at higher latitudes, wintertime or if you are dark skinned or you are old.
Thou Shall Experiment with Different Types of Grains
Sure, whole wheat is high in fiber and other good things like vitamins and minerals, but there are other fish in the sea – in other words, more grains to discover. Why not try something new? Choose from many varieties of barley, oats, rice, rye, flaxseed and corn. You may also look up recipes online for the type of grain you have chosen. It’s that simple! Try a new grain every month to keep things interesting
Thou Shall Spice Up Life
When trying to eat healthier, try taking out the salt and fat to cut down on calories. Although no salt will make your daal tasteless, you can experiment with different herbs and spices to give your meal some life without the extra calories. We are all not trained as chefs, but we can experiment. Start with different measurements of spices and herbs and adjust the amount to your taste.
A good place to start is your own spice rack. Don’t run off to the store to buy fancy spices. Check your own inventory. It’ll save time and money. Find a recipe online and have fun with it.
Thou Shall Eat More Meals at Home
It may seem boring to implement this, especially in the food-forward culture that we have in Pakistan. However, there are many upsides to this. You will be putting less pressure on the wallet and less processed-canned-bologna in your bodies. Most of the meals you have outside are swimming in saturated fat and the deadly trans-fat. So think twice! Baby steps will ensure success.
Thou Shall Eat More Meatless Meals
Vegetarian meals can be high in minerals, vitamins, and fiber; and lower in calories, trans-fat and saturated fat. They’re also cheaper to buy. This way you have your meat intake at breakfast, which is what is required, and eat healthy the rest of the day. Make yourself a Caesar salad – be easy on the dressing – tomorrow for lunch!
Thou Shall Know Thy Own Pitfalls
It is important to know your own weaknesses before you implement a change. Knowing your weaknesses just makes you stronger. Find out what is wrong in your diet before you start implementing changes. This will help you correct what you are already doing rather than starting something completely new.
Thou Shall Have Fun
Do not fixate on only eating greens. Have fun with your food. A little dessert hurts no one, but don’t overdo it. A good balance helps maintain a good and healthy lifestyle. Ice cream made with 2% milk and less sugar is a good option. You can also add strawberries to your ice cream. One of the ultimate nutritious yet tasty desserts is when you dip strawberries in melted dark chocolate! However, always know the limit and try to abide by it.