After decades of paleo, keto, counting macros, intermittent fasting and juice cleansing, it’s finally happened—diet has become a dirty word.
Finally, the yoyo-ing between calorie counting and binge eating an entire block of chocolate can stop, and so can the guilt of enjoying a greasy burger on the weekend after a long, dreary week. We’re done with diets—but that doesn’t mean we’re done with treating our body like the temple it is. You don’t need any celeb-sponsored fad diets to eat healthy, just a little bit of knowledge, some pre-planning and a few lifestyle swaps (yes, that does mean the snack drawer full of chocolate bars has to go—come on now).
Take it from someone who spends half their week dining out, drinking rose and sampling new doughnut flavours, and the other half eating (and actually enjoying) kale salads, protein smoothies and buddha bowls—it’s all about balance. You don’t need to avoid carbs or cut fat from your eating habits to be healthy, instead just check out our tips, and a few from Youfoodz dietician Tess Keightley, below.
There’s something to be said for meal prep, people. We know you’re picturing a kitchen bench covered in containers filled with roasted chicken breast and steamed broccoli right now, but that isn’t entirely what we mean (though you do you, Michelle Bridges). Instead of just shopping and ordering food from day-to-day, meaning you’re more likely to be lazy and grab takeaway, or head to office vending machine for a bag of chips, plan out what you’re going to eat for the week—breakfast, lunch, dinner and those afternoon snacks (get yourself a whiteboard). Then, write yourself a grocery list before you hit the shops so there’s no chance you’ll start tossing bags of Peanut M&Ms and salted pretzels into your trolley like you’re prepping for an apocalypse. And get yourself a stack of reusable containers so you can take lunch to work while you’re at it, even if it’s just leftovers from the night before.
Not into cooking, or even grocery shopping for that matter? No problem, we’ve got a solution for that too. Have a stack of YouFoodz in your fridge (they can help with snacks too), or get a fresh delivery service like Hello Fresh to your door.
Eat Whole Foods
If you ask Youfoodz dietician Tess Keightley, the best way to eat healthy all year round is to eat mostly whole foods—foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. We’re talking loads of fruit and veg (before they get to fruit roll-up and veggie chip status, not after), whole grains like rice and quinoa, lentils and legumes, nuts, dairy, meat and seafood. Basically, if it comes in a packet and has ingredients that you don’t recognise (you know, the ones with numbers in them), try and steer clear.
Even staples like salt, honey, eggs and apples can sometimes be a minefield of food processing, additives or just plain poor nutritional quality. Your best bet is to shop at a local farmers market, where your food is more likely to come straight from the farm. And when you cook all that goodness up? “Aim to fill half of your plate with vegetables or salad, a quarter with lean protein and the remaining quarter with whole grain carbohydrates,” says Keightly. “Whole foods offer your body the best possible nutrients to sustain a healthy lifestyle, as you're eating foods in their natural state when their nutrients are the richest.”
Drink More Water
Put down the soft drink—and while you’re at it, put down the green juice that’s actually loaded with sugar, the third cup of coffee for the day, and even the kombucha. You probably don’t even realise how much extra sugar you’re intaking with all those ‘healthy drinks,’ when all your body is really craving is some rehydration (especially if you tend to go hard on the caffeine). Oh you drink the sugar-free versions? Well we’ve got one word for you: chemicals. Invest in a good water bottle—double walled for insulation, charcoal filter, crystal infused, whatever—and start aiming for around two litres every day. Your body will thank you.
If you think that eating healthy is all tuna salads, carrot sticks and hummus and steamed fish with broccoli, you seriously need to open a cookbook (personally, we’re big fans of Hetty McKinnon’s Community, Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar and Lorna Jane Clarkson’s Eat Good Food). There is nothing that will drive you to a chocolate binge more than a week of slogging through bland, boring meals, so what’s the point? Instead, cook and eat the kinds of food you’re really craving—only give them a healthy makeover.
Want a pile of pancakes for breakfast? Whip up a banana and almond meal version with Greek yoghurt on top. Craving cake? Make (or go and find) a raw vegan slice. Turn that steamed fish into a tasty curry with cauliflower rice, make your own veggie-loaded pizza instead of getting takeaway and have a frozen fruit sorbet for dessert instead of ice cream. You’re limited only by your inability to work the Pinterest search bar, seriously. Or again, if you’re truly lazy, let someone do the work for you—Youfoodz does have a great snack menu, you know.
Let Go Of The Guilt
As Keighly notes, the best “diet” is the one that doesn’t feel like a diet. Dieting is hard work, both physically and mentally, and can seriously damage your relationship with food and be detrimental to your body image. As long as you’re eating mostly wholefoods, and getting all the nutrients and hydration you know you need, you’re doing pretty well—and you can let yourself have that treat occasionally (we’re talking the odd handful of snakes from the office lolly jar, not a daily 3pm bag of chips and chocolate bar from the vending machine, ok). Have that glass of wine on the weekend (hell, have the bottle), order the banquet when you go out to dinner with your friends—just make sure you balance it out with a big ol’ kale salad on the other side.
Want to know how to boost your immune system while you're at it? Head here.
Image credit: Caju Gomes