Between diet fads, trending superfoods, and a seesaw of good versus bad nutrition debates, eating healthy can lead many of us down a spiraling rabbit hole of confusion. However, by returning to the basics of eating well, eating healthy can be far less complicated, and much more fun, than it sounds.
Rule #1: Cook at home more
People who regularly cook at home tend to have healthier diets, and consume fewer calories, fewer carbohydrates, less sugar, and less fat. By preparing your own meals, you have greater control over how you choose and prepare food, which generally results in a healthier, wholesome, and more nutritious diet.
Rule #2: Eat more fish
High in protein and packed with nutrients such as vitamin D, vitamin B-12, selenium, and most notably, omega-3 fats, aim to eat eight ounces of fish per week. Doing so reduces your risk of heart disease, lowers your blood pressure, and improves your blood vessel function.
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Rule #3: Avoid processed meat
While there’s no need to hunt for your own meat, it’s important to understand what goes into processed versus unprocessed meat. Processed meat refers to meat that has been salted, cured, fermented, smoked, or transformed through other processes that adds chemical preservatives to enhance flavor and prolong shelf life.
Popular examples include: cold cuts, hotdogs, chicken nuggets, and canned meat.
Understandably, such processes are not healthy for you. Unprocessed meat, on the under hand, is rich in protein, lowers your risk of autoimmune disease, does not contain additives harmful to your overall health.
Rule #4: Create a meal plan
Creating a weekly plan might sound like a lot of work, but it’s a healthy habit to adopt. Not only will you and your family eat better by cooking more at home, but planning your meals ahead of time will save you time and money during the week. A few ways to get started include:
- Try a theme and plan new recipes on these nights to mix it up, such as fish on Mondays, pasta on Tuesdays, etc.
- Think seasonally, such as soups during colder months, and salads during warmer months.
- Recycle your recipes and menus and reuse them in later months.
- Plan for leftovers with meals that can be kept for the next day, like sandwiches with leftover roast, or salads with leftover grilled chicken.
Rule #5: Eat dinner at the dining table
We’re all busy and time may feel like a long lost luxury; however, making an effort to slow down and enjoy your meal at the dining table has been linked to healthier diets and lower rates of obesity and depression.
Taking time to be present will help your body absorb nutrients more efficiently, and eating dinner as a family will instill healthy eating habits early on.