Hands up if your healthy eating routine is about as predictable as the stock market? It’s easy to get into an erratic cycle of dieting days and indulgent binges but if you’re clever about what, and how, you eat, you can whip yourself into figure-fabulous shape while sending your wellbeing levels soaring.
We’ve put together a one-stop guide to healthy eating, with top diet tips, our experts’ foodie winners and sinners, gadgets to entice you into back into the kitchen and our favourite online foodie sites to get your healthy lifestyle started.
Kick-start your diet and use these simple tips to power up your plate:
1. Write it down
Scribbling down a shopping list before hitting the supermarket helps to save time and money, but Australian researchers say it could also help keep the pounds at bay. A new study by experts at Monash University in Melbourne discovered that dieters who wrote detailed meal plans and shopping lists were more likely to lose weight than those who went to the store unprepared.
2. Dump the junk
Did you know the average woman consumes 13.2 per cent of their total daily calories from added sugars? US research has found an alarming rate of unnatural sweeteners including high fructose corn syrup and regular white sugar in our everyday diet. These nasties have been linked to chronic diseases such as diabetes, so steer clear. Always read labels and ditch processed foods from your diet, swapping sugar for natural sweeteners like stevia and xylitol.
3. Colour-code your plate
It’s not just what you put on your plate that matters, it’s the plate itself, too. Researchers at Cornell University in New York found that our portion size increases by 20 per cent when the food we eat is the same colour as the plate it’s served on. Experts advise eating from brightly coloured or dark crockery to dodge this diet trap.
4. Get your five-a-day
We all know that fruit and veg is a major player in the war against wobbles –but did you know that eating five or more portions of the fresh stuff has been linked to a longer lifespan? Swedish researchers found that loading up on produce such as bananas, berries, carrots, cabbage and tomatoes plays an important role in life expectancy. Add them to smoothies, stir-fries and salads for a big nutrient hit.
What the experts eat
Do as these nutritional superstars do for a happier body
Nutritionist Christine Bailey (advancenutrition.co.uk)
My diet must-do: ‘I drink a green juice or green smoothie every day as it’s cleansing, hydrating and alkalising. I add in a spoonful of super green powder and probiotics to really maximise the health benefits.’
My healthy eating rule: ‘Margarines or processed, low-fat spreads are banned from my diet. They often contain trans fats and they are far from natural – I would rather eat nut butters, organic butter or coconut butter.’
Maria Cross, author of Food, and How to Make a Healthy Meal Of It
My diet must-do: ‘I eat a regular portion of fresh red meat, however it must come from grass-fed cattle. Not only is it high in nutrients, it also provides more absorbable iron omega-3 fats and monounsaturated fat – both of which are recommended for good health. Meat from intensively farmed cattle (fed on soya and grain) tends to be much higher in the less desirable omega-6 fats, which can cause inflammation.’
My healthy eating rule: ‘Avoid rice milk like the plague. It’s not rice, and it’s not milk. It’s made from the sugar from cooked rice and the water it’s cooked in. Sunflower oil, or something similar, is added to make it more filling and less watery. So you have a sugary drink with added refined oil which is high in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fats and which, oddly, is viewed as a healthy drink.’
Naturopath Rumana Zahn (rumanahealth.com)
My diet must-do: ‘I sprinkle linseeds over my breakfast to boost my levels of omega-3 oils and keep my digestive system healthy.’
My healthy eating rule: ‘I make my own juice. Fruit juices masquerade as a health product but many are highly processed and pasteurised with some containing preservatives and additives. It really takes so little time to juice two oranges and the taste is far superior than any concentrate.’
James Duigan, celebrity trainer and founder of fitness brand Bodyism
My diet must-do: ‘Cut out the CRAP (that’s caffeine, refined sugar, alcohol and processed food). These are the four main toxins that cause our bodies to cling to fat. It’s quick, and so easy you don’t even need to think about it.’
My healthy eating rule: ‘Stay away from muesli and granola bars. People always thing these are a good healthy option for breakfast – in reality, they are just stuck together with sugar. Also, avoid low-fat foods, which often have lots of hidden sugar. Full fat is always the best choice.’
Get creative Get busy in the kitchen with our top buys for budding cooks
Save space with this colourful compact food prep set including compact mixing bowls, measuring cups, a sieve and colander.
Hurom Slow Juicer £379.00
Leave those sugar-packed juices behind for a homemade glass of goodness. This BPA-free masticating juicer features a special slow-squeezing system that gently presses fruit and vegetables to retain nutritional content.
3 healthy websites to favourite
Take the stress out of cooking with this fab online service devised by nutritional therapist Jessica Andersson. Each week Jessica and her team deliver fresh ingredients and simple recipe ideas straight to your door, saving you the effort of trawling the supermarket for inspiration.
This juice cleanse website has just launched its new Winter Cleanse package, a three to 14-day detox made up of delicious seasonal, fruit and vegetable juices, plus warming broths to blast belly fat.
Avoiding gluten? This website is a handy tool – it offers global supermarket and restaurant suggestions to help you make healthy choices without compromising your diet.