Updated: Apr 28, 2020
Whether you’re looking to lose weight or simply want to boost your energy levels, these 12 easy-to-follow rules will help you achieve your goals and develop long-term, healthy eating habits. Enjoy!
1. Drink water
The human body needs water to function. Whether metabolising food, fighting infection, rebuilding cells or transforming fat into energy (and we love it when that happens ...), every single chemical reaction in our bodies requires water.
To stay hydrated, start each day by drinking one glass of water around half an hour before you eat breakfast. Your body has been working hard overnight, so you need to replenish your stocks.
Keep drinking at regular intervals throughout the day, and try to eat foods with a high water content. Yes – food contains water. In fact, some fruits and vegetables contain more water than anything else. They’re low in calories and are the perfect solution to staying well hydrated all day, especially in the summer!
The fruits and vegetables that contain the most water are:
While we’re on the subject of calories, if you want to lose weight, it’s even more important to drink water, as thirst can be mistaken for hunger. Although you may think you feel hungry, it could be that you just need to drink something. Water fills you up and helps take away those cravings.
2. Eat regularly
This may come as a surprise, but you should try and eat 5 to 7 meals per day, depending on your lifestyle and physical needs. Small, regular meals help keep your hormone levels balanced and contribute towards weight loss. Set yourself a regular schedule and stick to it. Take the time to prepare proper meals, and sit down when you eat. Your final meal of the day should be around 2 to 3 hours before you go to bed in order to allow good digestion.
3. Choose foods that are rich in fibre
Fibre is essential for keeping our guts healthy. It also promotes weight loss, strengthens the immune system, regulates sugar absorption and
helps curb cravings. Try to include at least one fibre-rich food in every
4. Take care of your gut
Intestinal flora is often referred to as the body’s second brain. Maintaining a healthy gut is important not only for the digestive system but for the body as a whole. The little bacteria that live in our gut interact with the immune system, brain, hormones and many other factors relating to health. Take care of them by eating prebiotic foods (containing fibre) and probiotic foods (such as yoghurt, kefir, and so on).
5. Avoid empty calories
A healthy diet is all about balance. No food should be completely forbidden,
but it’s a good idea to avoid those with no, or minimal, nutritional value. The term “empty calories” relates to foods that eat into our recommended daily calorie intake but don’t enhance our bodies with significant amounts of nutrients or vitamins. The three main culprits: sugar, alcohol and fat. Here’s what you need to know …
Sugar: Adults should try and consume no more than 20 grams of sugar per day. That doesn’t just mean table sugar. Chocolate, candy and processed foods are all typically high in sugar. Try tracking the amount of sugar you eat in one day and you might just be surprised!
Alcohol: In an ideal world, you should avoid alcohol altogether, but if you stick to the equivalent of 2 to 3 glasses of wine per week, that's already pretty good.
Fat: Try to avoid margarine and shortening whenever possible. They are both often used in cooking and are also present in processed foods. Common sources include chips and fried foods.
6. Eat fewer processed foods and takeaways…
It might sound obvious, but so many of us overlook the fact that it’s important to know exactly what you’re eating. Processed foods and takeaways often contain added sugar and fat, and it’s really hard to keep eating them and lose weight.
7… and do more home cooking!
Cook food from raw. Not only is it healthier, it tastes so much better too!
Home cooking is the best way to learn more about what you eat and really enjoy it! You can twist, tweak and improve any meal by adding herbs or spices! They’re tasty, and they contain 0 calories!
8. Choose quality.
You can't always buy everything fresh, but if you have to choose, buy frozen rather than canned food. Frozen food usually has less (or no) preservatives, which means less to no sugar and fat added.
In developed countries, people have the opportunity to eat quality, balanced diets with a fair amount of protein, carbohydrates and fat, all in good proportion. What does quality mean? It can mean a number of things …
For fat, quality means prioritising unsaturated fat over saturated fat. With carbohydrates, it means prioritising natural carbohydrates, which come from vegetables, fruits, seeds and beans. Perhaps the best tip, however, is to choose organic – it’s hands-down the best way to avoid unsafe chemicals that can be added to food. Ideally, you should eat locally-grown, seasonal fruits and vegetables. Not only do they have a low carbon footprint but they also have fewer preservatives and are grown using more natural methods.The more information you have about where the food comes from, the better.
9. Read the label!
Supermarket products often have lots of claims on the packaging (“low in fat”, “rich in iron”, etc.) Even though these claims are regulated, they’re not always the full story, so be sure to read the labels carefully. Ideally, products should be low in saturated fat, contain NO trans-fat and have limited sodium and sugar. It’s also good to check their vitamin content and which essential nutrients they contain if that information is listed on the label.
10. Add superfoods to your diet
Superfoods aren’t necessarily low in calories but they are full of nutrients and vitamins, and they often have great anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. They also boost the immune system and combat infection.
11. Now sit down and eat ...
Last but not least, one of the most important rules for a healthy diet: when you eat, just eat! It’s called “conscious eating” and means that you should do nothing else at the same time: no screen, no book … nothing that can keep your brain away from what you’re doing. Look at your food; taste it, enjoy it and chew it slowly. Adopting a conscious eating habit has plenty of benefits:
1. It improves digestion, as the brain gives information to the digestive
system about what you’re eating.
2. When you chew well, digestion starts from the mouth and more nutrients and vitamins are extracted from your food.
3. When your brain is able to concentrate on what you’re eating, it sends accurate messages about when you’ve eaten enough. This helps you eat the right amount of food.
4. It's enjoyable! Appreciating the flavours and the taste of your food is a pleasure!