We all want to be healthier, but it’s such a big commitment. Joining a gym, stocking your fridge with special food, and forgoing all the little treats that make life worth living. Why does being healthy have to be so hard, when being unhealthy takes no effort at all?
It doesn’t have to be this way. You don’t need to spend your weekends on the weights, or cut all carbohydrates from your diet in order to become a healthier person. A few small changes can make a big difference. Just thinking about your eating and lifestyle habits, and how you might tweak them, can give you more energy, shrink your waistline, and keep sickness at bay.
Follow the simple tips and tricks below to become a healthier, happier version of yourself. From fresh meat delivery to a short walk a day, there are plenty of little swaps and changes you can make to your life to improve its quality.
Snacks and Sides
Look, we all love a snack every now and then. Sometimes a handful of crisps or a bar of chocolate are just the thing to see you through a stressful work day in one piece. But if you have too much, all that salt and sugar will play havoc with your waistline, and your heart. Similarly, the wrong side dish can turn even the healthiest meal into a heart attack on a plate.
Treats are a wonderful part of life, but not everyday life. Here are a few ways you can make snack time a healthier time.
Ditch the Crisps
Crisps. Pretzels. Salted peanuts. They’re lovely, aren’t they? But they’re also packed with saturated fat and artery blocking sodium. A packet of Monster Munch on a Friday afternoon isn’t going to kill you, but making salty snacks a daily indulgence will start to have an adverse cumulative effect on your health.
If you find yourself craving a snack, swap the Pringles for popcorn, or a few low salt tortilla chips with salsa, or forgo the salted peanuts in favour of unsalted nuts like Brazil nuts, which are rich in beneficial fatty acid (good for the skin as well as the heart). Carrot sticks with hummus, or frozen grapes are delicious snacks, and the fact they take longer to eat than a packet of crisps means you will feel fuller faster.
Add a Salad
So you’re having steak and chips again. Nothing wrong with that. But why not add a salad to the plate in order to boost the vitamin and mineral content of the meal?
Adding a side salad is always a healthy option. Just make sure it has a low fat dressing. A simple olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing adds a boost of healthy omega 3 fatty acids.
Fries Are Not Your Friends
In most restaurants, meals like steak or burgers will come with a side of fries unless you ask otherwise. Instead of these salty, fatty, deep-fried little beauties, opt for a side of mixed vegetables, a baked potato, or a side salad. These will all boost the amount of fibre and vitamins in your meal.
When you do have fries at home, go for oven chips over the deep-fried option, and go easy on the salt.
If we’re having a healthy meal, we tend to think that that’s the hard work done. But pairing that meal with multiple refills of sugary soda or wine will undo all your good intentions. We tend to think of unhealthy drinks as being less problematic for us than unhealthy food, but that’s simply not the case. However, it’s not difficult to swap those empty calories for healthier alternatives.
The difference having diet soda or un-sugared sparkling water (add a little fruit squash for flavour) instead of full fat coke or lemonade will make to your diet is staggering.
One can of full fat pop contains about 150-200 hundred calories. That’s nearly a tenth of your daily recommendation! If you have two cans throughout the day, that’s the same as a helping of risotto, some meatballs, or a brownie (not that we recommend having a brownie instead, but it’s information worth knowing all the same).
Tea is full of antioxidants, keeps you warm on a chilly day, and is great alternative to coffee. So don’t undo all those benefits by piling it full of sugar. If you prefer your tea on the sweeter side, get some sugar free sweetener, or have a look at different herbal teas. There are plenty of delicious flavours out there, at least one of which is bound to give you that perfect morning brew.
Too much coffee might give you the jitters, and isn’t great for your digestive system or mental health, but a couple of cups in the morning isn’t going to do any harm. What might do you harm are the sugar, syrups and cream you add to it, especially if you buy it from a coffee shop like Costa.
Stick to sugar free sweeteners and sugar free syrups. At the coffee shop, ask for the ‘skinny’ and ‘sugar free’ option. Sugar free syrup will save up to 19 grams of sugar. For a single cup of coffee, that’s insane.
Fruit juice is infinitely preferable to soda, but just because the sugar it contains is natural, doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Why not get your five a day from the fruit itself, rather than just the juice, and get all the benefits of the fibrous flesh? It’s good for your heart and makes you feel full.
Who doesn’t like a tipple every now and then? And why shouldn’t you? But even when you’re hopping bars, you can look after your health to some degree.
Instead of asking the bartender for soda mixers or sugary cocktails, ask for your spirits to be mixed with diet soda or water. At least it’ll be one less thing to feel guilty about the next day.
The big one. Most of our mornings, workdays and evenings revolve around breakfast, lunch and dinner, and if your day’s been stressful, you’re much more likely to throw the towel in and make something quick and quite unhealthy.
But no matter what you’re having there are ways to make it healthier.
Organic Meat Delivery
No matter how long your day’s been, if you’re looking forward to what you’ll have for dinner, that can see you through. And there’s nothing quite like a beautiful cut of meat to get your mouth watering.
To guarantee you’re getting the best meat for your buck, consider ordering your meat online. Supermarket meat can be fatty or watery, and butchers aren’t always convenient, but companies like the Dorset Meat Company deliver boxes of fresh meat right to your front door at your convenience.
All their meat comes from 100% grass fed, free range animals, raised on 20 small, family run farms across Dorset and Wiltshire. The attentive, ethical way the animals are raised is environmentally friendly, and results in meat that is packed full of natural vitamins and minerals, as well as gorgeous flavour.
You can construct your own meat box on their website, full of the cuts you love, or choose a pre-constructed meat box like the Family BBQ Meat Box, or Autumn Meat Box. All are prepared by master butchers, and all will make your evening meals healthier and infinitely tastier.
Meat Free Days
Sometimes, though, it’s good to forgo the meat altogether. Plant based protein like chickpeas or tofu can be a great way of getting a combination of protein and fibre with fewer calories.
Vegetarian and vegan food is not the ‘rabbit food’ it might once have been. Try doing meat free Mondays, and you’ll soon discover a huge range of delicious, healthy meatless recipes you’ll want to eat throughout the week. Just be careful not to entertain those highly processed vegan products from the supermarket. Keep it whole food (or as near as possible) when you can.
Change the Bread
Burgers are actually quite healthy, all things considered. After all, they’re mostly made of a protein, salad and a little sauce; it’s just the bread that tips them over the edge.
Instead of the traditionally white sesame bun or bagel, go for wholegrain. It’s got all the fibre, vitamins and minerals that gets processed out of white flour.
Share your Meals
The main joy of good food is sharing it with those you love, and it’s also the healthier option. Splitting an indulgent meal like a takeaway with a friend will save you calories as well as money. What’s not to love?
Is it even possible to have a healthy pudding? Absolutely! Just because you’ve said yes to a dessert, doesn’t mean you have to throw your entire diet out the window. There are ways to make even the most indulgent sweets that little bit healthier.
Fruitier desserts on the whole are healthier than the chocolate or vanilla options, containing at least some valuable vitamins. Fruit also makes a lovely dessert on its own, maybe with a little Greek yoghurt, ice cream or frozen yoghurt.
After a big meal, you may think you still have room for something sweet, but actually halfway through your cheesecake you realise you just wanted a palette cleanser. That’s exactly what a delicious bowl of pineapple and yoghurt, or cinnamon apples will give you, at a fraction of the fat.
Almost every single person on the planet loves chocolate, but you know what they say about too much of a good thing. Instead of sugary milk chocolate in your brownies or drizzled on your strawberries, have dark chocolate instead. It contains up to 70% more cocoa, and a much higher amount of flavonoids, an antioxidant that protects against cancer.
Watch Your Portions
This might sound obvious, but it seems to be with dessert that we most lose our sense of control. Plus, sometimes it’s hard to judge how big a portion you’re getting for yourself when you’re slicing a cake or scooping up a helping of trifle. Eat your cake, just have less of it. It’s far better to have too small a piece and have to go back for seconds, than eat a two person portion and live to regret it.
They say a healthy diet is 80% of the work when you’re trying to lose weight or gain muscle. But that still leaves 20% to push through. Just one or two lifestyle changes will help you become a much healthier person.
A Walk a Day
Exercise doesn’t have to mean spending five afternoons a week sweating in a smelly gym. A short, brisk walk in the fresh air is good for body and soul, helping you to burn calories and stride through your stress.
Take someone with you for company, listen to some music, or download an audio book, and discover that, actually, exercise can be enjoyable.
Leave the Mobile Phone
A good night’s sleep does wonders for your attention span, motivation, and overall mental health. That little blue light shining from your mobile might seem innocent enough, but it’s the enemy of a restful night.
Try to avoid going on your phone for at least half an hour before bed. Think of it as a chance to pick up a good habit, like meditation, stretching, or bedtime reading.
You only need to make a few small changes to have a big impact on your overall health.