We all know we should be eating a healthy diet that hits all the right food groups. But converting that into reality can be a struggle – often, it’s hard to figure out where to start or whether you need to be eating the latest food trend.
The reality is you don’t have to start drinking bone broth or sprinkling spirulina into your soup (although they are highly nutritious foods). Just a few small tweaks can ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need for your body to look and feel great.
Use breakfast to get ahead
Most people eat three meals a day, with maybe a snack or two in between, so there’s only so much time to make sure you’re on track to meet your nutrition targets. Use breakfast to make a head-start on your five-a-day.
If you’re having porridge or cereal in the morning, try swapping the sprinkling of sugar (which offers empty calories and zero nutrition) with fruits, such as berries, or adding a small glass of fresh orange juice to cram in those antioxidants. A smoothie is also a great go-to for packing a nutritious punch. You can whizz up spinach or kale with a banana, water, some berries, oats and protein powder for a really healthy breakfast. This means that when it comes to lunch and dinner, you’ve only got three more portions of fruit or vegetables to go.
Making the most of your lunch
When the clock strikes in the middle of the day and your stomach starts to rumble, it’s tempting to prioritise your cravings. But choosing food with your stomach rather than your head can lead to unhealthy selections.
Take this decision out of the hands of your hungry belly by preparing your lunch at home. An ideal lunchbox might include salad and dark leafy greens to provide more antioxidants and magnesium, some wholegrains, lean chicken and a sprinkling of chopped walnuts or seeds to hit your daily vitamin requirements while giving some added crunch.
Some really simple healthy lunch choices include a jacket potato with tuna and a side salad, or healthy soup with added spinach, peas and a wholegrain roll. If you’re a sandwich fan, choose wholegrain bread and fill it with lean meat, such as chicken, and include some salad to get in another two of your five-a-day. If you’re short on time, you could always bring in leftovers from dinner the previous night.
Easy hacks for healthy family dinners
Many mums feel a heavy responsibility when it comes to ensuring their kids are eating well. But there are a lot of simple, quick dinners you can make that you wouldn’t believe are really healthy. Take beans on toast, for example – choose low sugar, low salt beans and wholemeal toast for a fast but nutritious meal. Or if your children aren’t fans of beans, eggs on toast or a Spanish omelette with some fresh salad on the side are also great options.
Another top tip – don’t be put off from visiting the frozen aisle in the supermarket. Freezing preserves nutrients, so having a well-chosen selection of frozen goods is an easy way to ensure you always have healthy food supplies at home. Stock up on vegetables and meat or fish, so you always have something easy to prepare if the kids are starving and you’ve only just got home from work. Just pop the meat or fish in the oven with some herbs, baby tomatoes and pre-chopped frozen onions, steam your green vegetables and serve with some easy cook brown rice or a sweet potato.
Increase your body’s ability to absorb nutrients
There are certain things we do to our bodies that can make it difficult for them to absorb nutrients. Your meals could be bursting with goodness, but if you’re ingesting anti-nutrients, such as alcohol, coffee or fizzy drinks, they can wash the body of the vitamins and minerals you’ve worked hard to put in your diet, so keep these to a minimum.
Anything that impacts digestion may stop your body from absorbing the goodness from food. For example, when someone is stressed it pumps blood away from the digestive system, making nutrient absorption more difficult. Not chewing thoroughly – such as when we’re eating on-the-go or munching on lunch at our desks – also prevents food from being processed quite so well.
When to supplement
I believe in taking supplements when your body feels like it needs them. If you have a time in life when you’re finding it difficult to eat healthily all of the time, or you’re feeling a little run down, supplements are an easy way to fill that nutritional gap.
If you can try to add more whole foods into your three meals each day, it will help you to maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of chronic diseases, helping you to live your best life.
Dora Walsh is a leading Registered Nutritionist Therapist (mBANT), and has helped many women to lose weight, keep it off and improve their health complaints. She hosts her own show on UK Health Radio and has appeared as the nutrition expert for many large media outlets, including Sky News and is regularly quoted in the national press. Dora does not endorse any products or brands.
This blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding your own or your family’s health.