Is Food Your Enemy or Your Friend? 6 Easy Food Swaps For Better Health

Here are two facts for you, in my book of truth at least.

  1. I love food.
  2. Diets don’t work

Atkins. Juice. Fruit only. No dairy. No pasta. No dinner.

I’ve tried the diets. Those and a few others.

None of them work. Not in the long term anyway.

No pasta for the rest of my life?

Hahaha, thanks but no thanks. Pasta is my favourite Friday night dinner, along with a tall glass of wine (that probably equals two).

Juice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?

Sure I can do it for a day or two, but any more than that and I’m so hangry that my family is ready to call on a demon destroyer.

Diets usually involve some for of deprivation.

Deprivation usually means that you end up wanting what you can’t have even more. That’s the case with most things. And there’s so much temptation around that sometimes it’s just impossible to say no.

Many studies show that most people who go on diets will regain their lost weight and then some a few short weeks or months after ceasing the diet. Why put yourself through the hell in the first place?

Thanks to shows like The Biggest Loser, personal trainers are on the rise too.

So is obesity.

Go figure.

The health and fitness industry pulled in over $24 billion in revenue in 2014 according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics. That’s a nice chunk of change, isn’t it?

Obesity costs are over $147 billion per year in the USA alone and rising steadily. Australians are on the same path with obesity costing around $21 billion. Huh?

But obesity isn’t just about being big. Many diseases stem from overeating and that includes diabetes, heart disease, depression and a host of others that are costly to the economy, but more importantly a burden on your health and happiness.

Clearly, something isn’t working.

It seems the more money the health and fitness industry is making, obesity moves in the same direction. Why is that?

Yes, there are people successfully looking after their health, fitness and general wellness but there is also the generation who don’t give a fuck and give up too easily because it all seems so hard.

I’ve never been severely overweight so I can’t say whether it’s easy or hard to lose 30 or 50 or 100 kilograms. What I do know is that it’s your choice to eat a candy bar instead of an apple. It’s your choice to wake up an hour early and go for a walk/run or book in with a personal trainer to teach you how to lift weights.

It’s those choices that will dictate the ease or difficulty of living a healthy and satisfying life.

Weight loss and health aren’t complicated. The information we receive though – whether it’s from the government, the supermarket,  the next door neighbour, or the local gym – can be dubious.

The supermarket has one ‘health aisle’. So what’s up with the rest of the food in the store?

Foods that are laden with sugar, preservatives, and chemicals get given four or five stars and people assume they’re healthy but won’t eat an apple because it might have been sprayed. Just wash it and eat it.

When you’re at the supermarket, stick to the outside aisles.

It’s pretty simple.

That’s where you’ll find your fruits and vegetables, bread, dairy, meats, fish and frozen items like more fruit and vegetables. No, it doesn’t include the sausage rolls or pre-made pizzas.

But then again, one of those $3 Margherita’s isn’t too bad, especially if at home you add an extra layer of vegetables – artichokes, capsicum, mushrooms, onion, tomatoes – yummy.

Even you can make a nutritious and delicious meal.

Oh yes, you can.

6 Easy Swaps For Better Health Every Day

  1. Swap your morning sugary cereal for some rolled oats mixed with a handful of nuts, half a cup of frozen berries, and a teaspoon of honey (optional).
  2. Forego your mid-morning packet of chips for a chopped carrot and hummus dip.
  3. Swap your lunchtime burger for a chicken salad with dressing on the side and a bunch of grapes.
  4. Forget your mid-afternoon tea and biscuits and grab a handful of almonds, some greek Yoghurt and a banana.
  5. Switch the pizza and hot chips, for a piece of grilled fish with some steamed vegetables and home-made garlic sauce.
  6. Swap your bowl of ice cream for a cup of peppermint tea and 20g of dark chocolate.

Did you notice how you end up getting to eat more? I love food so that to me is a no brainer. I’m going to opt for healthy any day of the week.

Check the sugar content of everything you buy. Just because it’s low in fat doesn’t mean it’s good for you. It’s probably filled with sugar and other crap that is going to wreak havoc on your digestive system, skin, hair and mood.

I try to always buy full-fat products.

Fat isn’t the enemy.

It’s the quantity and quality of everything we eat that’s the problem.

My biggest issue is portion size. I love food. I’m pretty sure I’ve already mentioned that.

Yesterday, I shared an acai bowl, some deep fried jalapeno poppers, sweet potato chips and a Cocowhip mini cup at a food truck picnic after a 50-minute run and followed by a walk in the park with my son.

Keyword = shared.

I wanted to try a few different things but I didn’t want the full portions because well they were just too big, so my husband and I shared them all. I was satisfied but my tummy was not begging to be freed from the constraints of my skirt. It would have been so easy to overeat with all the different aromas floating in the air.

Chips —> Chopped up vegetables
Ice cream —> Yoghurt
Large anything —> Small anything
Burger & fries —> Homemade burger with half the bun and grilled sweet potato fries
Raisin toast —> Rye bread with a banana and honey

Then again, you can eat what you want just not everything you want.

I will still occasionally buy the chocolate bar or have raisin toast for breakfast – especially when I’m nursing a hangover. But the majority of my food choices are on the healthy side. My current go-to treat is hummus jalapeno dip with baby cucumbers and carrot sticks. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Deprivation is not my forte. So I choose to eat whatever I want, just not whenever I want it. I’m fortunate that my taste buds mostly crave nutritious food.

If I know I have a dinner to attend, I’ll eat less throughout the day.

Overindulged at lunch? Dinner will mean a hard boiled egg or two followed by a cup of peppermint tea.

When Friday comes and I’m enjoying a massive bowl or two of pasta with wine I’m not feeling guilty because that’s also one of my heaviest training days – tempo run, swim and walk, and sometimes yoga.

I love chocolate and I’m afraid to say that most days I feel like eating it. So I opt for a few pieces of the dark stuff. You don’t need much more than a row (or 20g) and that’s enough to satisfy the cravings.

Fortunately, I’m not a fan of desserts. I love the look of them and I can photograph them for Instagram but I rarely would finish the full portion. Three or four small mouthfuls are enough before it stops tasting oh so delicious and becomes torturous to eat. So dessert I always share — unless it’s a cheese platter and then I’m really selfish and gobble it down like there’s no tomorrow.

I love the look of them and I can photograph them for Instagram but I rarely would finish the full portion. Three or four small mouthfuls are enough before it stops tasting oh so delicious and becomes torturous to eat. So dessert I always share — unless it’s a cheese platter and then I’m really selfish and gobble it down like there’s no tomorrow.

We all have our vices.

That’s ok.

Enjoy them. But control them otherwise they’ll control you and that’s the last thing that you want.

It’s the lack of control that leads to overeating and weight gain.

Quick Tips To Better Eating Habits

Be conscious about your food. Don’t just shove things in your mouth because you’re hungry. Think about what you’re eating and how you’re eating it.

Get organised. If you always have a pack of trail mix in the car or a banana in the fruit bowl it’ll be easy to pick a healthier snack to curb the hunger.

Learn to cook. Home cooked meals are better for you and will reduce your spending.

Enjoy the food you love. Even if that involves a cheeseburger and fries. Just don’t do it every day. I love wine, chocolate, and pasta. I ain’t giving those up for a million. But that doesn’t mean I allow them on a daily basis. Wine is limited to the weekend, pasta on a Friday night and chocolate once or twice a week.

Drink lots of water and avoid juices. Juices are empty calories and full of sugar. Drink water and opt for a piece of fruit instead.

Ignore the latest diet hype. Most of them are just that, hype. They’ll put on a show for a few weeks or months, then die down, and another will appear. Forget it. Moderation and balance are key. The definition of those will depend on your lifestyle. A sedentary middle-aged man will have a different definition of balance than a middle aged female amateur triathlete.

Eat slowly. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is full. The faster you eat the more you’ll consume and that’s no good for long term health.

Remember it’s not about being skinny. It’s about being healthy and fuelling your body with the nutrition it needs to keep you with the demands you place on it every single day.

 

What food can you swap throughout the day so that you’re making healthier choices? Do you think it’s easy to eat healthy? Affordable? How do you manage it (or don’t)?

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