6 tips to cut the rubbish and start eating healthier

Monday, 28 March 2016
6 tips to cut the rubbish and start eating healthier

If two years ago you told me I would one day be a healthy food enthusiast I think I would have laughed. I used to be a sugar fiend and barely a day went past that I didn't have chocolate, fizzy juice or a sweetie of some kind. I was totally hooked, it just all tasted so good and I really didn't know or care about what eating all that rubbish was doing to me. I also didn't eat properly at all, preferring to snack on sugary treats than eat any actual food. Breakfast was non-existent (which I still can't believe because breakfast is genuinely the best thing ever) and dinner would be a feast of all the food I could find to make up for hardly eating a thing during the day. It was not good. 

When I started working full-time I managed to get into more of a routine with my eating, which definitely helped, and a month or so after going from university to work I realised that I needed to get myself together and sort my diet out. I won't say it was easy, it took me months to fall in love with food and to finally cut out all the rubbish I was eating, but I felt so amazing for it. The worst part was, I didn't realise just how awful I felt eating the way I did until I stopped and began feeling the benefits of a healthier lifestyle. I've honestly never had more energy and I rarely feel tired anymore. 

I wanted to write this post to share a little of my experience with you and some of the things that worked for me when I decided to change my diet. These things might not work for everyone but if you are struggling, doing a few of these things might help you to eat a little healthier and, most importantly, feel a lot better.

1. Drink lots of water! 

I never used to drink water and I'd maybe only have one glass of juice a day. I must have been permanently dehydrated but I never noticed until I started drinking water and realised how much better I felt for it. You should aim to drink two litres of water a day as a minimum, which sounds like a lot if you are anything like I used to be, but actually, it's not much at all and now I probably drink closer to three litres a day. At the beginning, I had to force myself to drink it but after a few weeks it became a habit and now I don't think twice about it. I also found that keeping a bottle of water on my desk at work meant that I would drink it throughout the day simply because it was there.

2. Keep a food diary 

For a few months I wrote down everything I ate in a day. I didn't count calories or anything, I just simply wrote down what I ate. This really helped me to see exactly what I was eating and emphasised how bad my habits were - a share bag of sweeties in one sitting three nights in a row definitely is not okay. Seeing all the things you are eating written down in black and white can really make you think twice about your diet.

3. Make simple swaps 

Whole wheat is always the better choice because it's less processed than white foods so you get so many more nutrients and goodness. Swap your white pasta, rice and bread for whole wheat alternatives - they taste the same and are much better for you. 

4. Eat three meals a day

This is a biggie. Since I started eating three proper meals a day, I rarely feel the need to snack because my body is getting all the energy and nutrients it needs from my meals. Make sure your breakfast is something that will keep you going - porridge is my go-to because it's high in fibre (and seriously delicious), leaving you feeling full up until lunch, have a decent sized lunch (those shop-bought sandwiches just won't cut it anymore), and a nourishing dinner packed full of whole grains and veggies. If you feel like you need a snack during the day try fruit or a raw snack bar (Nakd bars are my favourite, or make your own - my almond and date snack balls are easy to make and taste really yummy). These kinds of snacks are so much better for you than a chocolate bar and won't give you a sugar rush followed by an energy slump an hour later. Planning your meals can also help you stay on track. I don't personally do this as I prefer choosing my meals based on how I feel that day, but lots of people find writing a food planner to be a great way of staying focused and eating a healthy diet.

5. Eat more fruit and vegetables 

I truly believe that you can never eat too much fruit and vegetables. Start off by adding an extra portion of vegetables to your meals and have fruit as a snack or dessert. I usually have at least two portions of fruit or vegetables with every meal. Eating healthy isn't about eating less, it's about eating more of the foods that are good for you.

6. Cook your own meals 

Shop-bought meals are just bad so always try to avoid these. Even the 'healthy' ones tend to be really high in salt or sugar. Cooking your own meals at home is so much better for you because you know exactly what you're putting into your food. And everyone has time to do it because there are so many wonderful healthy recipes you can cook up in less than 10 minutes. Bulk cooking at the weekend is also a great idea - things like soup, chilli, lasagne and dahl are all great meals you can cook on a Sunday and reheat during the week for a quick, healthy dinner. I'd also recommend taking a packed lunch with you to work, school or college/university because this way you know you have a healthy lunch and won't be tempted by going out for fast food - good for you and good for your bank balance!

I hope this post has been helpful to some of you! Cutting the rubbish foods that are high in sugar and highly processed from your diet isn't easy, especially if, like me, you used to eat them daily, but it is possible and I promise you will feel so much better for it. Now that I eat the way I do, I can hand on heart say I have never felt better. I have so much more energy, feel much happier and actually enjoy my food a lot more. And please don't feel like you need to cut these foods from your diet completely - if you want a chocolate bar then have one, they can be eaten as part of a healthy and balanced diet - just make sure that one doesn't turn into one a day. I prefer not to eat these foods as I just feel better when I don't, but that's just me. It's important to remember that we are all individuals and what works for me might not work for you.

If you have any other tips for cutting down on sugary foods let me know in the comments!


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