When did activated charcoal become a food and not something to start a fire with, why is it so expensive and Kombu-what? It can be easy to get caught up with all the new eating trends and exotic so-called superfood ingredients. But our dietician Mariella explains why eating healthy isn’t so complicated and doesn’t need to involve expensive trips to the health food store.
The food and health industry is being flooded with new trends in healthy foods and must haves to live a healthy, wholesome life. But, “what is REALLY needed to eat healthy?” you may ask yourself every time you page through a health magazine or walk past a wellness store.
The truth is, it does not involve unpronounceable foods NOR does it have to break your monthly budget.
The health and food industry has found a very clever way to market foods in such a way that we, as consumers, are brainwashed into thinking that these are the only ways to real health, and we are spending money on it. But what happened to the old-school carrot and when did it become any less healthy?
Luckily, it didn’t.
Which foods are healthy?
Luckily, you do not have to spend a fortune to still live a healthy life. Focusing on wholesome, fresh and unprocessed foods, variety and eating with balance is an easy way to summarize it. Fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrients that your body needs to function and focusing on eating wholegrains, unprocessed carbohydrates along with dairy and protein daily (i.e. eggs, meat and legumes) will meet your daily dietary requirements. Through eating a variety of all the above-mentioned foods you are covering all your bases.
Does it have to be expensive and come from a health store?
No. Seasonal fruits and vegetables for example are packed with nutrients and are budget friendly when they are in season.
But it’s so difficult to eat healthy and the food always tastes bland…
… you might say. The trick with eating healthy is preparation and being mindful of what you are putting into your body. Eating healthy becomes a lot easier when you prepare your lunch and your snacks for the following day because it prevents you from going out and buying the first option, which unfortunately is usually a sugar coated treat, that is high in fat and highly processed.
Some easy, healthy and affordable snacks are:
- Cut-up vegetables with hummus or cottage cheese
- Dried/fresh fruit
- The good old peanut butter sandwich (on wholegrain bread)
- Some yogurt with nuts/cocoa powder
- Homemade protein balls, if you enjoy getting involved in snack making
When it comes to lunch, it is very easy to just pack some leftovers from dinner the night before and just changing a few elements of the meal to make it different from night before. Keep some basic spice-up ingredients at your office to make your life easier. For example: Add feta, hummus, pesto, peppadews, a different dressing or some different vegetables to your meal from the night before to change things up. You can also replace your starch e.g. If you had curry with rice, replace the rice with some potato or just use the rice and add some ingredients to that to make a salad.
If you are lacking inspiration for dinners, there are plenty of amazing food bloggers on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or Foodgawker that are bound to spark some inspiration. Or just order hassle-free Day to Day dinner kits!
When it comes to shopping, we are often tempted when we walk past that sweet isle and end up buying a lot more than we came for, so here are a few tips to help with that.
- Make a list before you go to the shops to prevent you from browsing and buying unnecessary food items.
- Do not go shopping hungry because our eyes are bigger than our stomachs and you will end up with more than you bargained for!
In summary, eating healthy is simply a matter of being mindful, eating wholesome foods that are not processed and focusing on balance and avoiding processed foods that are high in sugar and fats.
Mariella is the registered dietitian at DayToDay. When not working alongside Chef Gino, she is giving talks on healthy eating and competing in triathlons.