May 4, 2021, 12:26 PM
Nicai de Guzman
Why is it so hard to eat healthy food? Perhaps it’s because, for many people, healthy food still conjures undesirable images of poor-tasting, unsatisfying meals. Perhaps it’s because healthy food is associated with a lifestyle change that many people are unwilling to make.
Perhaps it’s not a matter of healthy food at all. It’s just that the bad stuff tastes so much better in comparison. How could it not, though? Junk food and sweets are designed to make you crave them.
The health food industry has grown leaps and bounds since people used to associate them as bland, tasteless “rabbit food”. There are sufficient healthy recipes out there to make vegetables taste just as exciting as bangers!
The reasons why healthy food continues to be a turn-off for many range from a lack of conviction and misinformation to unsavvy diet management and an overall low impression of nutritious food. But if there’s one thing we learned from our current context, is that we have to be healthier. That begins with a proper diet.
If you’re willing to make the switch, but can’t quite figure out how then read on!
Am I eating healthy?
You might want to follow that up with other questions, such as: What are you eating? How are you eating? Why are you eating?
Obviously, copious amounts of crisps and sponge will not do. If you’re snacking on your desk all day without getting up for a short walk, then that’s pretty counterproductive. You should be eating a balanced diet—with good carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals. While you can indulge in a dessert or chips, you must be able to exercise a sufficient amount of self-control since most of these are pretty addictive.
Are you already on a diet but find yourself languishing over the unmoving scale? There are usually reasons why diets seem ineffective. You could be eating too much or eating too little. You might have replaced your Walkers with root crisps, which are marketed as healthy but are just as bad. Being informed about which foods are healthy and which are not is key. Products with a health halo convince people that they’re doing better when they’re actually ending up worse.
If you think you have a food addiction, you might want to figure out the root of the issue. Any form of addiction is usually caused by emotional trauma. Finding help for your addiction will work wonders for your physical and emotional well-being.
It’s also important that healthy eating is only one component of a healthy lifestyle. Food should be enjoyed and you can enjoy it better if you pair your balanced diet with some exercise. Whether you want to shift your life towards a better path or you just want to shed a few pounds, having a fitness regimen, even if it’s just as simple as taking an hour-long walk, will do wonders for your body!
Here are some reasons why exercise is beneficial to your diet:
It improves your metabolic rate.
So many of us struggling with weight loss blame our metabolism. Many factors affect metabolism, including body type, body size, age, gender, genes, and even medical condition. However, you can boost your metabolic rate through exercise. And many of you may think that you need to do an intense workout to achieve this, but the truth is, a simple walk can do wonders!
It offers a better rush than a sugar rush.
Did you know that there are people who are addicted to junk food? If you’re one of them, you must understand why this happens. This is because these food target the reward centres of the brain.
Ingredients in junk food releases heightened amounts of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which makes us feel happy. However, that pleasure is superficial. As soon as the body acclimatises to those dopamine levels, you’re going to want to eat more junk food to get that jolly feeling. See how it builds?
With exercise, you can get that same feeling albeit in a much healthier way. Exercise stimulates not only dopamine but also the hormone serotonin and the chemical endorphin. Both are known to influence positive and euphoric emotions. Though you may not feel it when you’re sweating it out, exercise is doubly productive because not only does it make you feel good, it also burns off calories and helps make you look good!
It’s just a good habit to have.
Exercise should be a natural component of any lifestyle. You can be a gym buff, sure, but even walking around the block is incredibly beneficial. More than the promise of weight loss, exercise also helps improve blood circulation, manage blood sugar, and enhance brain function.
How can I eat healthier?
First off, you need to alter any belief that healthy food tastes bad. You can start by assessing your poor eating habits and coming up with alternatives for them. If you’re craving sugar, you might want to pack some fruit instead. Exchanged refined carbohydrates with some better options like quinoa, potatoes, sweet potatoes, or brown rice. There are ways to eat healthy without feeling deprived.
Whether it’s having a strict menu plan, bringing lunch from home, or just knowing what to order, thinking things in advance will save you from the pressure of picking food that will most likely be unhealthy.
We’re not asking you to revamp your entire eating life. We’re saying that there are always healthy alternatives to stuff like junk food. If you want chocolate, you can do so—just eat it in reasonable amounts. And, it’s better if you go for dark chocolate, which is much healthier.
Know what goes on in your meals. You have full control!
Commercially produced vegetable crisps may be just as salty and oily as regular potato crisps, but making your own at home, with your air fryer and olive oil will make a world of difference. Hankering for ice cream? Frozen bananas can replicate the consistency of ice cream once you throw it into a blender or food processor. Just add more fruits for flavour!
Meat lover? That’s fine. If you’re not one for steaming or boiling, try cooking your meats in a rotisserie. The rotating motion allows a lot of the oil to drip down.
Here are some other healthier substitutes you might want to get into:
Replace crisps with popcorn. No, not the kind from the cinema or even the ones you pop in the microwave. Cook your popcorn on a stovetop. Use olive oil instead of butter and hold the salt!.
Do you love milkshakes? Lucky for you, green shakes are all the rage. If you’re uninitiated, you can go easy on the vegetables and add more fruit. You can add more greens later on as you get used to the flavour.
Fall in love with cauliflower. In the world of healthy eating, cauliflower is some kind of magic vegetable. Run it through the food processor and you can simulate rice. (Saute with some corn and peas for delicious cauliflower fried rice.) If you want to cut back on potatoes, you can cut your usual mashed potato recipe in half and replace the rest with mashed steamed or boiled cauliflower. If you like the flavour so much, you can just do mashed cauliflower instead!
Eating healthy is about eating right. While eliminating whole food groups is a technique used by many fad diets, avoid doing so. Always think balance. Always think sustainability. Can you live your whole life without carbohydrates? Or dairy? Or gluten?
If you’re nervous about falling off the wagon, try a fitness programme to help you keep track. We at BodySlims, for example, won’t just help you lose the weight for now, it’ll have you committed to a sound lifestyle for the rest of your life. BodySlims has come up with a sustainable system that puts you in the proper headspace to truly enjoy healthy meals and exercise. Be ready to change your life. Make sure to check our Programmes page to find out about the next intake!
How can you avoid falling back into poor eating habits?
Like we said, every bit of the bad stuff—from the flavours to the marketing—was designed to lure you in and hook you for life. You’re only human. You’re not perfect. Sometimes, you might have to give in. After all, you can’t say no to your auntie’s fruitcake on her birthday, can you?
While the amount of will power you’re willing to exercise is entirely up to you, here are a few tips to help you stay away from temptation.
At the supermarket…
Don’t shop blind. Make a list beforehand of everything you need to purchase. This way, you won’t find yourself suddenly lingering along the snack aisles. This will help you stay within your dietary goals. If you can, try to specify the quantities as well.
At the restaurant...
Having wine night with your girlfriends? Do you have a scheduled business dinner? That last one is especially tricky. So many deals are done over a meal. It might feel impolite to get a small meal when the person with whom you’re dining is indulging in three courses.
Just be conscious and conscientious about your choices. Going through the mains, perhaps overlook the ones that are fried or fatty. Opt for healthier sides, as well. If you can’t skip dessert, restaurants usually offer fruit to finish your meal.
One more thing: If you can schedule a breakfast meeting or a power lunch, that would be so much better. You would have time to burn off the excess calories and you won’t go to sleep feeling overly full.
The good thing about stress is that you can channel it through various ways, apart from eating. We always recommend exercise, of course, but sometimes that’s impossible especially if you’re in the middle of work. It’s as simple as making healthier choices. Always have fruit or vegetables available and ready to eat in your fridge. Stop stocking crisps and chocolates at home. (Remember to plan your trip to the grocer’s.)
Again, you can’t exactly say no to your nan’s Yorkshire pudding! She laboured on it and it would be rude to resist.
We can’t emphasise this enough: You shouldn’t deprive yourself. Holidays are meant to give you a break. You shouldn’t be afraid to indulge. There are ways to control holiday eating. Christmas Day, Mother’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day—these celebrations are meant to be enjoyed. Being healthy and fit should be a lifelong commitment and these are only a few days in that journey.
That said, you must still be responsible. An easy tip to bear in mind would be portion control.
Take tasting portions so you can satisfy your curiosity about the flavours, without diving back into old habits.
Eat slowly and take your time. Finishing food quickly might give you an excuse to eat more. What else can you do since everyone else is eating?
Drink lots of water in between. This is so you can feel full quickly and won’t be tempted to come back for seconds or thirds.
Don’t starve yourself to make room for the feast. This will end up with you overindulging the night before. Just try to eat clean and healthy before and after the celebratory meals so you have that bit of calorie leeway to enjoy.
Don’t skip the exercise! Just because you’re giving yourself a bit of an eating allowance, doesn’t mean you should skip on your fitness regimen! In fact, you should be going on walks so you can feel better about enjoying the holiday feast. You can eat guilt-free because you did your time.
Volunteer to make dessert. Dessert can be your downfall during the holidays. To make things better for you, make your own. This way, you manage the ingredients and the portions. There are so many tricks to make a dessert that tastes sinful without being sinful: nut milk instead of dairy milk, oat flour instead of all-purpose flour, honey instead of sugar. The point is, this way, you can enjoy dessert and you can wow the whole family with your cooking skills.
Want to be more in control of what you eat? Cook healthy and delicious food that will satisfy in more ways than one. BodySlims has a free, downloadable recipe book to get you started!