By: Natasha Paulic, Registered Dietitian
The internet is filled with advice on how to eat a healthy diet. But how do you know which advice to follow? Should you eat a paleo or vegan diet? Should you count calories or macros? Healthy eating is much more simple than most people think. If you feel confused or overwhelmed at the nutrition advice online, then read on to learn some very simple nutrition tips that are proven to improve your health.
1. Eat more whole foods
Whole foods are foods that have not been changed much, or at all, from the original source of the food.
Some examples of whole foods are:
– Whole fruits and vegetables
– Meat and seafood without added flavourings
– Beans and lentils
– Whole grains
In general, whole foods are found around the outside of the grocery store, and processed foods are usually found in the isles. Whole foods usually have more vitamins, minerals and fibre. Processed foods often have added sodium, sugar, saturated fats, and artificial ingredients.
2. Listen to Hunger Cues
From birth, we are given the tools to manage our nutrition and weight. It is programmed into our bodies in the form of hormones that tell us when we are hungry and when we are full. But as we get older, our eating habits become influenced by many factors other than our bodies. For example, our eating and food choices may be influenced by our emotions, our habits, social situations, cost of food, time constraints, or other factors. The hunger scale below can help you to figure out when it is time to eat, and when it is time to stop. Start eating when you feel like a 3 out of 10, and stop eating when you feel like a 6 out of 10.
3. Eat without distractions
Eating without distractions helps us to cue into our feelings of hunger and fullness. When we are distracted while eating, such as if we are watching TV, we are less likely to pay attention to how we feel on the hunger scale. It may take the body around 20 minutes after eating to feel full. Eating slowly and checking in with your hunger level can help you to prevent over-eating.
4. Make most meals at home
Cooking meals at home is usually a much healthier option than eating out. Even if you choose a healthier option at a restaurant, it is almost always higher in calories, sugar and/or fat than you would expect. Even when restaurants have nutritional information, it is usually not completely accurate as they do not measure out each portion of food perfectly.
5. Enjoy what you eat
This tip is very important. Many people feel that they have to stop eating their favourite foods because they are “bad”, or that they have to force themselves to eat “good” foods. The truth is, there is no such thing as good and bad foods. Allowing all foods in moderation is essential to building a healthy, balanced diet and having a good relationship to food.