We all know what it’s like to be bombarded with information about what we should and shouldn’t be eating, and it seems to change every week! Sometimes keeping it simple really is the key.
YMCA nutritionist, Alethea Jerebine, has put together some simple tips for healthy eating that will never go out of fashion.
1. Eat your fruit and veggies
Not only are fruit and veggies packed full of vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals (which protect against heart disease, diabetes and some cancers). They are also full of fibre which fills you up, leaving less room for the unhealthy stuff.
2. ‘Quality’ matters more than ‘quantity’
If you’re confused about carbs, then keep this in mind - the amount of carbs in the diet (e.g. low-carb or high-carb) is less important than the type of carbs you choose.
Fresh fruit, veggies, whole grains (such as corn, barley, oats, quinoa, etc.) and beans for example are high quality carbs, and you can eat these in plentiful amounts.
Refined grains, on the other hand, like white bread and pasta, pastries, biscuits, and sugary drinks are poorer quality carbs, and should be eaten in small amounts. Usually stripped of nutrients and fibre, these foods can contribute excess energy in the diet and lead to weight gain.
3. Be sceptical of health claims
Walking down the supermarket aisle can be an exercise in identifying smoke and mirrors marketing.
Many processed and packaged foods carry health claims on their labels such as ‘97% fat free’, ‘natural’, ‘wholegrain’, and ‘gluten free’. Unfortunately, these messages usually have very little to do with how healthy a product is – and may actually be disguising something you should really avoid.
The best approach is to choose foods which aren’t processed; like fresh fruit, veggies, meat, fish, nuts, eggs, and wholegrains you cook from scratch.
4. Size does matter
This is particularly true with the foods we know we should limit like cakes, biscuits and fast food. Next time you feel like something sweet or salty, go for it (denying yourself can lead to bigger cravings), but choose the smallest size. And try to limit how frequently you say ‘yes’ to a piece of cake or pack of chips – and keep them as occasional treats rather than an everyday part of your diet.
5. Choose water
Avoiding sugary drinks is a really simple way to improve the quality of your diet and your health. Most sugary drinks are high in calories and have little or no nutritional value. You can read more about water vs sports drinks here.
Water is always the best choice!
If you’re looking for more information, why not check out the Australian dietary guidelines. They’re simple, easy to follow and best of all – free!
At the YMCA we are working hard to improve the food and drinks available at our centres and as part of our healthy food and beverage policy, will be sugary drink free by 2017.