7 Simple Ways to Make Your Meals Healthier: Guest Post by Petra – Be Healthy Now

Spring is just around the corner and while everybody is thinking about spring cleaning, I’ve been thinking about what I can do to ‘spring clean’ my diet. I’ve already started reducing a number of sweet treats I have weekly and this has already helped me drop a few pounds.

If you are looking to ‘spring clean’ your diet, reducing your sugar intake is just one thing you can do. There is much more of course and here I share with you seven simple ways you can make your meals healthier to have a healthier start of the spring…

7 Simple Ways to Make Your Meals Healthier title on background image of table with healthy food in wooden bowls

Eat More Raw Fruit and Vegetables

By eating more raw fruits and vegetables you’ll be filling your diet with anti-ageing antioxidants, various minerals and enzymes that your body will love, boosting digestion and fighting chronic disease. Try and add fruit or vegetables to every meal you have. I add blueberries to my porridge or muesli every day and I always have a fresh salad with my meals.

An image of a selection of healthy nutrious food

Cut Back on Junk Food

Eating fast food on a regular basis can lead to obesity due to the number of calories and amount of fat in fast-food meals. Not to mention the additional problems that this type of food can cause like high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Replacing junk food with healthier options may not be easy to start with but it is possible, all you need is some determination and willpower. I would recommend you start by exploring healthier alternatives to the junk food you currently eat.

For example, could you replace French fries with roast potatoes? Or could you find a healthier ready-made meal in a supermarket? Most of the supermarkets these days have quite a good selection of (almost) healthy ready meals which I believe some people may want to turn to when they are busy.

The more healthy food you eat, the less appetite you will have for junk food.

An image of take out pizzas and cans of coke

Cut Out the Dairy

Did you know that countries where people drink a lot of milk also have the highest rates of osteoporosis? Milk is not as good for you as you may have thought and it’s definitely not the best source of calcium.

And did you know that milk is full of hormones, puss and antibiotics? If you drink it, it’s time to cut back and go for healthier options such as almond milk, rice or oat milk.

If you are worried about your calcium intake you can easily add some calcium-rich kale to your salads. You can also find calcium in other foods such as sardines, pulses, dried figs, almonds, sesame seeds (tahini) and even baobab powder.

Reduce Meat Consumption

There is a number of reasons why you may want to reduce consumption of meat but the main one is definitely your health – that’s because eating less meat is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease and cancer (although it will also help you save money!).

Try and replace minced beef with lentils for example, or instead of having a beef burger, swap it out for a bean burger – this will provide you with way more nourishment, fibre and vitamins.

Use Whole Grains

Whole grains are grains in their unprocessed form. That means that they still contain all of the parts of the original kernel including the outer layer (the bran).

Eating more whole grains helps you consume more fibre and improve your digestion but it also helps to lower cholesterol. In addition to that, whole grains make you feel fuller than refined grains and this could help you keep your portions under control and maintain a healthy weight.

Switching from refined grains to whole grains is really easy – just ditch white rice and white pasta and replace them with brown rice and whole wheat pasta. Try other whole grains as well such as quinoa and buckwheat.

An image of a spoonful of grains

Use a Steamer Instead of Frying, Boiling or Roasting

Steamers are great to soften up your vegetables while still keeping the crunchy texture and preserving their valuable nutrients. Steaming your food is one of the healthiest ways of cooking and doing that will make your meals super healthy.

Use Healthier Cooking Oils

Do you still use sunflower oil as your main oil for cooking? If the answer is yes, it’s time to consider something else! Rapeseed oil, for example, contains half less saturated fat than sunflower oil and this is the oil I personally use for shallow frying and roasting.

When buying rapeseed oil make sure you go for the one which is cold-pressed as opposed to the refined rapeseed oil which is not much better than sunflower oil.

Another oil which you may want to consider for cooking is avocado oil. This has a high smoke point and you can also use it in salad dressings.

An image of oil being poured into a bowl

Author Bio:
Petra Kravos is a healthy lifestyle blogger who runs one of the top UK’s health blogs, Be Healthy Now. Petra is very passionate about health and loves helping people on their healthy living journey. On her health blog you will find a variety of topics, from natural health and healthy eating to fitness, Petra covers it all. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

3 Benefits of a Whole Food Plant Based Diet: Guest Post by Micaela – Life in Lilac

My story starts at the end of last year when I basically decided I had had enough of being tired all the time, being overweight and generally unhappy with myself. After some research I came across a weight loss program called Bright Line Eating which has a strict program of cutting out all unhealthy foods including all sugar and all flour.

As part of my journey and research into nutrition I discovered that my long term vegetarian diet which included dairy, eggs and processed foods was not the best option for someone looking for long term health. Nutrition has always been something I have been interested in but this year I my research spurred me onto study for a Diploma in Nutrition and Weight Loss.

So, on January 1st this year I switched to a Whole Foods Plant Based diet which focuses on unprocessed, animal product free, natural foods. Since starting Bright Line Eating in October I have lost 13kg (28 lbs) in weight and feel more vibrant and happy than ever.

Today I want to share with you 3 benefits of switching to a Whole Foods Plant Based diet in the hopes that you will be inspired to try it for yourself, or at least incorporate more whole plant foods into your diet…

3 Benefits of a Whole Food Plant Based Diet
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Reduced Blood Sugar Levels

Right now in the UK there are roughly 3.5 million people suffering from Diabetes, a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high and in turn can damage other organs and processes in the body.

Eating modern sugary snacks, cereals and puddings can put your body under a lot of stress as it is constantly trying to keep your blood sugar at a steady level by releasing insulin. This onslaught of processed foods and snacks which are ridiculously high in sugar ultimately ends up messing with our health. Eventually your body becomes used to having high levels of insulin all the time and you become resistant to it which ultimately leads to diabetes.

Focussing on more whole (unprocessed) plant foods such as vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains doesn’t only lower your consumption of sugar to begin with, it has been shown to slow down the absorption of sugars due to their high fibre content. It’s worth remembering that processed fruits and vegetables act on the body faster than whole foods because the fibre has been broken down, so try and avoid blending or juicing to maintain steady blood sugar.
If like me, you have diabetes in your family it’s worth considering putting down the sugary snacks and reaching for some fresh veggies instead.

Weight Loss

If you have a few pounds to shift then shifting to a diet which excludes all animal products and processed foods will give you a huge boost towards your goal. Fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains are low calorie and high in the nutrients you need so they have a great energy to benefit ratio when compared to processed food.

Processed foods are full of sugar and fat which ultimately makes them high in calories and let’s face it, low in real nutrients that your body needs. Foods made in a factory are never going to be as wholesome and beneficial as the food provided by mother nature.

Try switching out your high sugar cereal in the morning for some porridge or oatmeal made with plant milk (not from a packet!) topped with peanut or almond butter and instead of grabbing a high calorie sandwich for lunch prepare a hearty salad at home with a mix of vegetables such as carrots, cucumber, lettuce, peppers, avocado and tomato alongside a whole grain such as quinoa, buckwheat or brown rice.

Removing unhealthy foods packed with calories you don’t need and replacing them with delicious nutrient packed whole plant foods will ensure a lower consumption of calories which you don’t need and therefore will help boost your weight loss.

Vitamin Boost

I already mentioned that processed foods have high levels of calories and low levels of nutrients but did you know that people eating a standard modern diet will probably be deficient in vitamins because of this?

Vitamins, which are found mostly in plant foods, are essential for health. They are naturally occurring chemicals that sustain normal repair, growth and development as well as acting as a regulator to help release energy from foods. Some vitamins (A, C & E) have antioxidant properties which protect against diseases and damage.

We can store some vitamins in the body in our fat, such as vitamins A, D, E & K, but the vitamins which are water soluble, vitamins B & C we can not store and therefore we need to consume them in order to stay healthy. The absence of vitamins can cause some functions of the body to fail and ultimately can be fatal. There is no evidence that supplements actually benefit the body.

The good news is that eating more whole plant based foods will give you a huge boost of vitamins to keep you healthy and feeling vibrant. Food such as green beans, cabbage, leeks, okra, peppers, summer squash and sweet potato contain vitamins A, B and C along with beneficial minerals such as iron, potassium and magnesium.

At the end of the day you don’t have to radically change your diet to see the benefits of eating more whole plant based foods. Start small by switching out some of the most processed foods in your regular diet for healthier options and continue to slowly swap high calorie, low nutrition foods from your life. At least I hope I have given you some food for thought.

A bowl of healthy salad on a table

Author Bio

Micaela is a lady based in Kent, she is a digital marketer by day and lifestyle blogger by night. Micaela is passionate about learning and sharing knowledge about nutrition and helping people improve their health.

#Blogtober 2016 – Day 19: 10 Favourite Foods

Ok, my 10 favourite foods, meals and places to eat (in no particular order) are as follows:

1. Fruit and veg smoothies- not technically food but given I drink one daily for breakfast it made sense this would be at the top of my list! I generally throw in whatever fruit and veg we already have at home that needs using, rather than follow recipes. I also sometimes freeze fruit and veg bought from fresh if we have extra, so that it will be ok to use for longer- so that often gets chucked in too!

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2. Seeds- I love adding seeds to my smoothies, they are such a quick and easy way to pack in more nutrition. My favourites are chia seeds, hemp seeds and poppy seeds.

3. Bananas- my favourite fruit and my ‘go to’ snack when I need a boost.

4. Popcorn- once reserved for watching movies, this is now just an easy to grab late night snack for me!

5. Crisps- I try to avoid these, I really do. But they are my achilles heel! I generally go for red pringles or kettle crisps.

6. Vegetable stir fry- my favourite dinner at home. Noodles, brocolli, peppers, onions, beansprouts, carrots and any other veg we have thrown in, ideally made with coconut oil… yummy.

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7. The Green Kitchen– not a specific food, but a great place to eat delicious vegan food. Highly recommend.

8. Jacket potato with baked beans- I realise this is pretty boring, but I like it because is such a quick and easy meal to grab, so it’s going on my list regardless of how dull it is! 

9. Harvester – specifically the new beetroot and halloumi burger with sweet potato fries… SO tasty. 

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10. Ok, so this last one is the final reminiscent of old eating habits and goes against everything else for so many reasons, but I’m going to keep it real and include it anyway lol… salt and pepper chicken from the chinese take-away. I just can’t help it, I love it. Sorry, but it’s going to have to stay on my list! 

(And no, I don’t really have a sweet tooth… hence no cakes, biscuits or CHOCOLATE on my list… I know, strange but true!)

#Blogtober16

#Blogtober 2016 – Day 13: What’s In My Fridge

Does anyone seriously want to read about what’s in my fridge? Hmmm, doubtful! So let’s make this a quick one! 

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Basically there is a selection of fruit and veg, potatoes, pure sunflower spread, violife vegan cheese, flaxseed, innocent smoothies (I make my own daily with a nutribullet using fresh ingredients, but Squiggle likes these so we sometimes buy them), condiments and almond milk. Oh and there may also be a few beer bottles tucked in the corner there too! 

We try to eat as much raw food as possible and we are also what is apparently known as flexitarians (and/ or reducetarians?) because we eat a primarily plant based diet and have mindfully reduced our consumption of meat, yet we are flexible about it. I would say we are about 90% vegetarian and 75% vegan. 

Squiggle has personally chosen not to eat meat from a young age, which is actually what initiated changes to my own diet in the first place, in order to respect her wishes and still accomodate both of our dietary needs. This later led to the further developments, both for our own health and the benefit of the environment. Prior to this I ate a reasonably healthy diet, but it did include far more meat and processed food, and less proper nutrition!

#Blogtober16