If you find it a daily grind to choose and cook healthy foods, you are not alone! With our fast-paced lifestyles and fast food just a telephone call away, it is easy to fall off the healthy eating track. But don’t despair. By following these smart eating tips you will be back on track to discover a healthier (and probably lighter!) you.
Your first point to consider for a healthy meal is the type of ingredients you use to cook your food. This includes both home cooked meal and meals eaten away from home. Some recommendations are:
- Eat lots of vegetables, legumes and fruits.
- Cereals – particularly wholegrain
- Lean meats, fish, poultry
- Milk, yoghurt, cheese, or other calcium based soy products
- Drink mineral water – try to avoid tap water as it may contain unclean substance. Instead, invest on a filtering water machine that can purify the water such as the popular Diamond brand containing multiple cartridges within it. Usually at least 4 cartridges up to 8 cartridges. The more the cartridges, the more purified the water. Since our body intakes more water than food, we have to ensure that the water we drink are as clean as possible.
When you prepare your food, you can consider the following:
- Place a limit on saturated fats and reduce the amount fat intake.
- Select food that are low in salt.
- Low G.I. food – containing substantially less sugars
- Limit the amount of alcohol intake, should you choose to drink.
If food can be cooked in a healthier way, it can make a big difference to the overall fat and kilojoule content of the meal. When you’re at home, try to cook healthy. While you’re out, try to go for choices that you know that are cooked in a healthier way or perhaps request for your meal to be cooked with your specific healthy preference.
There are basically four types of healthy cooking method:
- Steaming: You can steam your vegetables via a steamer and it is a great way to retain the important vitamins and minerals, instead of using fats and oil to cook. You can also try microwave (for a faster option), but I wouldn’t recommend because of its exposure to radiation. The vital nutrition on the food are generally reduced by the microwave radiation, so go for a steamer would be a better option. Even though it takes slightly longer, sometimes it is worth the wait for the sake of your own health. Another healthy alternative is boiling vegetables, however, water soluble vitamins containing B and C can be leached out of the food into the boiling water. Try to use just enough water to cook your vegetables so that not much of the vitamins from the food are drained out.
- Stir-frying: Stir fry is a fantastic way to cook your healthy meal. Only requires a small amount of healthy oil, such as olive oil or canola oil, add in some lean cut meat or chicken, loads of multi-colour vegetables, and you will have a well balanced meal in less than half an hour. Adding in some stir fry sauces may sometimes contain high in salt or sodium, so try to buy sauces that have reduced versions in salt wherever possible.
- Grilling: Lean meats and vegetables that are grilled is a low fat way of cooking your meal. Cooking spray your lean meat and vegetables, then season it with various herbs and spices to give it a nice aroma lift. The perfect low-fat healthy meal within minutes!
- Baking: Baking is no doubt the healthiest method to eat your food – A hassle free way of cooking. Mix in with minimal oils and plenty of herbs and spices other than salt, you can taste it with instant great flavor hit. You can also consider making potato wedges by baking it without the use of a deep fryer.
If you can change your daily eating routine into a healthy swap, it can make a big difference to your health. Any food containing loads of fat, especially saturated fat, can be quite harmful towards your heart and making it difficult to sustain a healthy weight. For a heart-friendly swap, perhaps you can try the following for a change:
- Go for skim milk latte instead of regular fat latte. There is about 6.6g difference in fat so you will be able to stay healthy even when you drink coffee too!
- Toast with margarine instead of butter. 7.6g difference in saturated fat, and margarine contain less salt than butter.
- When you cook curry, use light evaporated milk instead of regular fat coconut milk. There is a massive difference of 30g fat and 27g saturated fat per 125mL.
Smart Eating Tips
- When you’re eating your fruits, it is best to leave the skin on to boost the fibre intake, but make sure it is washed thoroughly.
- Wholegrain products are generally rich with vitamins, minerals and fibre, so eating any food that are wholegrain based are very healthy. Such as pasta, breads and cereals.
- Meat usually has fatty residues on so you should try trimming off those excess fat before cooking to reduce your saturated fat intake.
- Choose dairy foods (i.e. milk, cheese and yoghurt) that are low in fat while still having the necessary protein and calcium intake.
- If you’re having snacks, go for more nutritious options such as fruit, yoghurt, pop corn, toast, raw unsalted nuts, vegetables sticks such as celery and eat it with low-fat dip.