Do you want to improve your eating habits and you do not know where to start?
My advice is to start with a small and simple change. We can find a lot of misleading advice online, that can leave us feel overwhelmed. So the key element is to find something practical that works for YOU. We all lead different lives, so it is worth keeping in mind that something that works for your friend or somebody you know may not work for you – and that is ok.
Here are some examples for you to think about and to give a try.
1. At dinner and lunch, have half of your plate filled with vegetables
Vegetables are a great source of fibre and minerals and vitamins (such as vitaminin C, magnesium, vitamin A and iron)…and they are tasty! You could roast/steam a mix of different vegetables or you could make a soup or a stew. The more colours the better.
2. Going out for the day? Don’t forget snacks + reusable water bottle
Whether you are spending the day out for work or for fun, having some water and snacks on you can be handy to keep hydrated and to avoid getting to the next meal feeling extremely hungry. Some examples may be: mix of nuts and seeds, easy portable fruit (banana, orange, mandarin), dark chocolate, hummus with raw vegetables or oat cakes, yogurt with granola, flapjack...
3. Spice it up!
The National Diet and Nutrition Survey (2016) shows that adults consume 7.8g of salt a day, which is almost 2g above the recommended daily limit (1,2). We do not have much control on the salt used in ready meals/foods, but we can try to use less salt in the food we make from scratch and to use herbs and spices instead! My go to herbs and spices are thyme, oregano (or mixed herbs), chilli flakes, turmeric, cinnamon, lemon pepper and paprika.
4. Have one meat free day a week
Meat is a traditional ingredient for many cultures and it contains many nutrients (e.g. proteins, vitamin B, iron, magnesium). So, I am not saying that you should cut meat completely out of your diet (unless it is your choice or you have specific dietary requirements). However, data shows that people in the UK, on average, consume 86g of meat/day (3), which is higher than the recommended daily limit of 70g (4). Having a meat-free day a week could be an opportunity to include more variety in your diet and to include more plant foods too. You can find some plant based ideas on my Instagram feed (my favourite recipe is pasta with tomato and chickpea sauce!).
5. Include a piece of fruit in your snack
Fruit contains fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Some kinds of fruit are good portable snacks and cheap. To make the snack even more delicious and filling, you could add a source of protein and fat (e.g. nuts, dark chocolate, yogurt, granola or nut butters). There is a myth about fruit being "unhealthy" because it contains sugar. Fruit does indeed contain sugar (which is our favourite body’s source of energy – not an enemy to avoid), but it also contains fibre – which slows down the absorption of sugar.