Picture used for illustrative purpose only. TNS
Saleha Irfan, Senior Sub-Editor/Reporter
Have you ever wondered why eating healthy meals is something a lot of us find difficult to do?
Imagine this: You decide to start eating clean from today but before you chop your first vegetable, you get lazy and decide to order in a readymade meal.
And that’s the crux of it: A lot of us feel that eating better requires a lot of meal prep. This is true to some extent but there are also shortcuts you can take.
Eating better means feeling better, we all know that, so here are some ideas to get into healthy eating.
Rule No. 1: There are no rules
Trying to eat healthy can be a real mind game. You must have noticed that if you tell yourself to not eat a particular food, say doughnuts, you’re likely to devour five or six in a single sitting. If your brain works the same way, it is wise to not label anything as totally off-limits.
We all know which food groups are better for us — whole ingredients, especially plants, and not processed food. Doughnuts are OK, as is everything when eaten in moderation.
Get over the stigma of frozen vegetables
Even though fresh produce is easily available, if there are days that you feel the need to eat green and your fridge is empty, just go for frozen vegetables. And skip the depressing kaleidoscopic “medleys.” Pick up a bag of broccoli, green beans or peas that you can steam, sauté or roast instead of reaching for a takeout menu. With a bowl of warm rice, they’re a meal.
Aim for a “healthy” breakfast at least three days a week
Knowing you should eat better and actually doing it are two separate things. Try and outsmart yourself to eat a healthy breakfast at least three days a week, be it a small bowl of cashew yogurt with granola and a big dollop of jam, scrambled egg with spinach, or even good whole-grain toast with a banana and almond butter. If you start your morning off in a healthy way, it is bound to influence your meals the rest of the day.
There’s no shame in shakes
If you are always on the go and too busy to actually sit down for a proper meal at lunch, go for a shake, even if it is one of those easy-to-hate green shakes.
Just drink water
Drinking water helps you feel full, staving off hunger pangs that strike out of nowhere. The rule of drinking a full glass of water before a meal really works — it makes you eat less because you’re putting something in your stomach. Staying hydrated means you’ll feel better overall, and hopefully that will carry over into helping you make better decisions about what to eat for the rest of the day.
Be a junk food snob
If the meme “There should be a refund for calories that don’t taste as good as you expected” resonates with you as well, it is time to become picky when choosing your cheat meals. If you’re choosing to eat, make or buy something indulgent, make sure it’s perfect.
Cold soggy fries? Hard pass. Crisp shoestrings with just the right smattering of salt? Yes, please. Does that make you a junk food snob? Maybe.
Keep nuts on hand everywhere, all the time
If you are one of those people who suddenly find themselves famished, keep mini healthy snacks on hand everywhere: Your office drawer, the car, in your handbag. A couple of handfuls is all you need to stabilise your blood sugar levels and ward off any insane rationalisations that you might need seven cookies as your “midmorning snack” right now.
Make big batches of good stuff you can snack on anytime
Sometimes it’s hard to find time to make full meals so when you have some extra time on your hands, do some meal prep, or make big batches of dishes that keep well for long. Some favourites include roasted root vegetables, chickpea salads with lemon dressing, and cut up frozen fruit packed separately for quick smoothies.
Amp flavour and texture
Bland meals will leave you unsatisfied no matter how full your stomach is. So make sure that whatever you’re cooking is seasoned well. Look outside the spice rack and add flavours like fresh lemon juice, chilli flakes and paprika.
Umami is key in boosting flavour. It delivers the savoury yum you enjoy in processed snacks but comes in natural forms such as Parmesan cheese, tomatoes, mushrooms, meat and sauces such as soy, fish sauce and Worcestershire.
On top of all that flavour, build texture with crunch, such as tossing nuts or pomegranate seeds into a salad, showering scrambled eggs with toasted bread crumbs, mixing berries with hot oatmeal, or adding granola to fruit salads.
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