1. Eat the rainbow! Colourful meals ensure you get a variety of vitamins and minerals in your diet naturally. Purple foods (like berries or grapes) contain flavonoids, powerful antioxidants, which help to fight off disease. Green foods such as watercress and broccoli are a rich source of magnesium, which is vital for nerve and muscle function. Orange foods (carrots, butternut squash) are rich in beta-carotene which is needed for healthy skin.
2. Eating healthily can be something that becomes part of your daily routine and you’ll find it so much easier if you have a plan. Check the weather forecast when you are doing your menu plan so that you choose appropriate food for the day. Salad is wonderful when the sun shines but you may need to team it with baked sweet potato when it is blowing British outside!
3. Learn to love carbs! Carbohydrates have got a bad name over the last decade, but the right carbs – ‘the browns’ – are a vital part of a healthy diet. Choose brown rice and potatoes with the skins on. Say goodbye to white carbohydrates, which will give you a rush of energy and then a sudden dip. These include white bread, white rice and white flour.
4. Stay hydrated. I make homemade fruit-infused water to keep things a bit more interesting. I love water with lime juice and a hint of cayenne pepper! Avoid sugary drinks (fizzy and alcohol). These are rich in quick releasing sugars, which cause fluctuations in the blood sugar levels – this is a polite way of saying mood swings! It will take a week before you stop craving sweet drinks and then you’ll will find them ridiculously sweet and won’t go back.
5. Make protein customary with every meal. Protein fills you up, whilst slowing down the release of any sugars. It helps to build our bones, make our hair shine and have healthy nails and skin, which will be getting the brunt of it right now during this weather! Cook with game, eggs and soya beans, making your protein choices more exciting.
6. Make friends with essential fats. Our bodies can’t make them so we have to get them from our food. – they are vital for optimal brain function. Good sources include oily fish and raw seeds. Try BBQ’d salmon for a summer twist. A little goes a long way. Just a handful of nuts and seeds is the right portion.
7. Eat seasonally! Visit a local picking farm. Picking is a fun activity, and it makes it all the more satisfying to see exactly where your food comes from. You’ll find a whole range of delicious crops throughout the summer, including peas, beans, strawberries and raspberries. Fall in love with local, fresh produce in British harvest season. Throughout autumn, sweet potatoes come into their own, not to mention pumpkins, spinach and kale. By eating foods that are actually in season, you’re not only supporting the local economy but the food is actually so much tastier and healthier. If you over cook don’t worry, most of them turn into incredible soups when whizzed with some stock. Yes, it is that simple.
8. Get into the routine of eating breakfast. We have all been told countless times by nutritional experts that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but for many this meal is still a chore. A good breakfast gives you an energy boost to start the day, and has been linked to weight control and improved mental performance.
9. Minimise stimulants in your diet. I’m talking sugar and caffeine! It is not just that they can drive up your blood pressure, but it’s handy to save stimulants for when you really need them so when you really need them they actually work. Save them for party season, or when you are working on a difficult deadline.
10. We all love snacking and it’s time to stop feeling guilty about it. Not only do nutritious, healthy snacks stave off hunger pains, but they also keep your blood sugar levels stable, helping to keep the brain alert. Going without food for a long period of time can encourage the blood to store fat, slow metabolism and can actually be detrimental to weight loss. Try raw unsalted nuts with fruit. The protein of the nuts at the same time as the fruit helps slow down the fruit’s natural sugars, ensuring energy levels stay tip-top and blood sugar levels stable.
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