10 Tips To Make Your Meals Healthier

healthy meal imageIf you are looking for a 'best diet for life' that you can follow on a daily basis, this article has some simple tips to get you going. The main idea is that you can introduce these dietary changes over a period of time. You don't have to make the switch overnight! If you do, you may find it difficult to stick with the new diet and then end up back where you were before.

Begin by picking out a couple of these tips at a time and incorporate them into your day until they become routine. Then, move on to a couple more. Before long you'll be following all 10 tips as part of your daily meal routine. By following these tips you'll not only be eating healthier but you'll want to prepare healthier meals and your family and friends will benefit too.

1.  Add fresh vegetables to your plate

As children we were told "eat your veggies" - for a very good reason. Vegetables are packed with nutrients like potassium, folic acid and many important vitamins.

Here's just some of the benefits of consuming plenty of this nourishing food group: 

2. Marinate meat before a barbeque

Several studies have shown that marinating meat will cut down a lot on the amount of carcinogens produced by the barbeque process. Adding herbs like rosemary and thyme as well as pepper will increase these benefits. There are lots of marinade recipes out there but many of them don’t call for adding herbs, so make sure to add them!

3.  Switch to whole grain foods

Changing from white flour-based foods like bread and pasta to whole grain slows down the rate of absorption by the body. This reduces the insulin 'spike' you can get from consuming simple carbs.

Whole grain foods also contain larger amounts of vitamins and minerals than the refined flour versions. This diagram from the FDA illustrates the difference between the two types of bread.

4. Eat a balanced meal

In spite of the popularity of low-carb diets like Paleo or Atkins make sure you include carbohydrates, protein and some fat (unsaturated as much as possible) with each meal. Many endurance athletes do the opposite and eat a lot of carbs at the expense of protein. Generally speaking though, except for the occasional ‘carbo-load’, it’s better to balance the three food groups.

5. Eat more fish

Fish is an excellent source of protein, and contains essential fats like Omega-3 needed by your body. In North America we tend to eat far more meat compared to fish which is not the healthiest choice, so if you can increase your fish consumption you will certainly benefit in the long run.

6. Eat plenty of salads

healthy salad mealA fresh salad is a good accompaniment to your meat dish and is loaded with nutrients. It can even be your main course such as a Chicken Caesar or a Greek Salad for example. Salads are a big part of meals in the well-known Mediterranean Diet.

7. Try the ‘light’ versions

Always look for low-fat versions of the foods you consume on a regular basis like milk, cheese etc. This will reduce your intake of saturated fats and Omega-6 fats which are too prevalent in our diets anyway.

8. Avoid fast foods

This is hard to do given our busy schedules. But if you can cut back on the trips to the fast-food outlets, you'll be better for it. Having said that the most popular companies are trying to promote healthier meals like salads and burgers from grain-fed beef. Still..!

9. Try a vegetarian day

If you can cut out meat and fish once a week you will reap the benefits of a vegetarian diet. Who knows, you might even prefer these lighter, easier-to-digest meals? Eating less red meat is generally accepted as being a healthier choice although we do need the essential fatty acids found in meats and fish.

10. Don't overcook your food

Overcooking makes meats and breads harder to digest and charred foods contain carcinogenic substances as we said in the section on marinating. When it comes to vegetables, cooking them too long greatly reduces the amount of nutrients they contain. Although it’s a matter of personal taste, your veggies should be slightly on the ‘crunchy' side but soft enough for easy digestion.

Summing It Up:

So, if you've been thinking about adopting a healthier lifestyle then these tips will help get you started. Remember, if we continue to do things the same way, we continue to get the same results so if you want to improve change is necessary! Following these everyday tips will increase the quality of your food intake. You'll feel better after a meal and you'll have more energy as well. Moving from an 'average' diet to the 'best diet for life' is not a quick weight loss program. It's more of a gradual adjustment to a healthier lifestyle that includes both a balanced diet and regular exercise.

Keeping Track:

Rome wasn't built in a day! You should record your progress (weight, exercise, energy level etc.) in a journal or online log that you can refer back to as time goes by. Our Fitness Journal contains a 'nutrition notes' daily section for you to keep track of your diet as well as other important stats like weekly weight.