Once again, the news headlines this week make us take a look at our diet as there would appear to be a link between obesity and type 2 diabetes and our body’s reaction to the coronavirus. This link between our weight and a range of conditions is not new.
Last year Cancer Research UK said that obesity causes more cases of four common cancers than smoking. They say that bowel, ovarian, kidney and liver cancers are more likely to have been caused by being overweight than by smoking tobacco. Health experts agree that the increasing rate of obesity in the UK is very concerning.
Here at The Best of Health, we aim to encourage our followers to take a look at their diet and make sensible yet achievable changes.
Simple Ways to Improve your Diet
Healthy eating doesn’t need to be boring or mean that you have to make huge differences to your daily diet. By making small food swaps you can make a real difference to the nutritional value of your meals and snacks. Try making one or two small healthy swaps throughout the day and you will soon see the benefits.
By choosing slow release carbohydrates your breakfast should nourish you till lunchtime and avoid the cravings for high sugar snacks.
- Swap sugary breakfast cereals for porridge oats or oat based muesli. The nutritional value will be further enhanced if you add a handful of antioxidant-rich blueberries and seeds such as sunflower and pumpkin seeds which will provide a good dose of potassium.
- Swap white toast and jam for wholemeal toast topped with peanut butter and sliced banana. By helping to stabilise blood sugar levels, the wholegrain bread should keep the hunger pangs at bay. Peanuts are a good source of protein & the banana will add fibre & potassium.
- Swap a white bread bacon roll for a poached egg on a wholemeal muffin. As well as being a great source of protein, the iron in the yolk is essential for the formation of haemoglobin in our red-blood cells which keeps energy levels high by carrying oxygen around the body.
To avoid the after-lunch slump it’s important to keep yourself alert with high energy proteins and complex carbohydrates in your diet and to make sure you are well hydrated.
- Swap a white bread tuna sandwich for wholemeal bread filled with mashed tinned sardines or mackerel, watercress & chopped beetroot. Tinned tuna doesn’t have the crucial Omega 3 oils that sardines & mackerel contain & the antioxidant content of the beetroot & watercress will help protect your body.
- Swap a cheese sandwich for a wholemeal roll filled with mashed avocado, sliced tomatoes, chopped spring onions or chives & cubes of feta cheese. The avocado contains heart protective fats, the cheese provides protein & calcium & the antioxidant content is enhanced with the addition of the tomatoes, onions & chives.
- Swap a packet of crisps for a handful of unsalted nuts. People who regularly eat nuts have been shown to have a reduced risk of heart attack.
- Swap a can of cola for a bottle of water, sparkling if you prefer. A twist of lemon, a sprig of mint or some grated ginger will enhance the flavour.
In the evening your digestive system will struggle with a heavy fatty meal and lead to a poor night’s sleep. Therefore by choosing a lighter meal with lean protein, easy to digest carbohydrates & green vegetables, you will be doing your body a favour in more ways than one.
- Swap sausages for an oven baked chicken breast or flat mushroom topped with goat’s cheese seasoned with garlic, black pepper or a squeeze of lemon. The chicken is a great source of protein in your diet while the garlic is rich in antioxidants & may help lower blood pressure. Mushrooms provide vitamin B12, potassium, selenium, beta-glucan fibres & antioxidants.
- Swap buttery mashed potato for sweet potato mashed with a little olive oil. This will provide you with a larger proportion of fibre than ordinary potato. Steam some pak choi, cabbage or broccoli and scatter with sesame seeds to accompany your meal and top up your folates & antioxidants.
It can be hard to find time for a proper meal if you are on the go but by choosing wisely you will top up your energy levels with nutrients rather than empty calories.
- Swap a sugary smoothie for pieces of whole fruit. The fibre content of an apple, satsuma or banana will be much more beneficial & will fill you up for longer.
- Swap a bar of chocolate for a small amount of dried apricots, dates or figs to give you more fibre & vitamins. Just go easy on the amount though as the sugar content of these is relatively high.
- Swap a packet of crisps for a packet of mixed seeds such as sunflower, pumpkin & sesame. These are a good source of omega 3 oils which help to protect the heart.
By making small changes to your diet you should see benefits in your overall health, fitness & weight and be able to maintain these changes in your everyday life.
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