Besides exercising, preparing your food the healthier way is a major factor contributing to your wellness. By cooking wisely, you reduce your risk of developing obesity, cardiovascular diseases and more. Eating a good diet can also help in improving mental health.
Here are some ways how you can achieve much healthier – and sustainable – food habits.
1. Shop for fresh food
The celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay always says: “Great food demands fresh ingredients” – and so does healthy food. The following are some tips you can follow when shopping for fresh foods:
- Create a shopping list before you shop. Planning your meals on a weekly basis can also be a good idea
- Keep fresh ingredients at home that you can use for your meals
- Check the appearance of the fruits and vegetables before buying to see if they are in good shape
- Buy seasonal fruits and vegetables. In local markets they will be cheaper as well. When grocery shopping you must refrigerate foods within one to two hours if local temperature is above 25 degrees
- Grains are an essential part of our daily meals, and choosing whole grains is a way better, healthier option. Whole grains are low in fat and high in fibre which is good for your digestion. Plus, they also have complex carbohydrates that can help you feel full for a long period of time, preventing you from overeating.
- Bad fat and high amounts of calories are your enemies when becoming healthier; hence you should avoid foods that are rich in sugar and sweets, such as cakes, biscuits, doughnuts and muffins.
2. Read the nutrition label
Industrialised food must contain preservatives to make it last longer. Some that you’ll probably have heard of are: aspartame, monosodium glutamate (MSG), Calcium Sorbate, Potassium Nitrate, high fructose corn syrup, Sodium Benzoate.
- Always check the if the preservatives above are in the food you’re about to buy – they are HARMFUL. Leave these foods on the shelf
- Also check the % for each 100gr of sugar and fat
- Limit the amount of processed foods in order to minimise hidden fats in your meals
3. Follow food preparation guidelines
Food preparation is an essential step before cooking, such as:
- Wash your hands before and after you use any utensils or food, most especially raw meat, fish, eggs, poultry, fruits and vegetables
- Wipe your kitchen surfaces with soapy water to keep your kitchen clean
- Don’t mix raw, cooked and ready-to-eat foods. You must keep raw meat, fish, eggs and poultry in their separate containers to avoid cross-contamination. Ideally, use separate cutting boards when you prepare them. If you only have one, you can just prepare them one at a time and wash the cutting board after each batch
- Remember that when in doubt, throw it out. If you are not sure whether what you’ll be eating is clean and safe, just throw it in the bin
4. Switch to healthier fats
In preparing your food in a healthy way, you must choose healthy fats. Select reduced-fat dairy products. Try to consider adding avocado, fish, soy, olives, nuts and seeds, as these contain essential long-chain fatty acids and good nutrients. Also, the healthiest oil to cook with is olive oil.
Moreover, you can try these tips to decrease your unhealthy fat intake whenever you are cooking:
- Try cooking in liquids rather than using oil; use for example lemon juice, fruit juice, vinegar, water or stock
- Instead of sour creams, butter and creamy sauces, use pesto, salsas, chutneys and vinegar
- Creams in sauces and soups should be prevented as well. You can use yoghourt and reduced-fat milk, or even better, almond or coconut milk.
- Having non-stick cookware is also the best move to cook your food healthily, as this may reduce the use of cooking oil.
5. Reduce salt
High salt intake can give you a wide range of health problems, most especially high blood pressure. Hence, you must reduce salt in your cooking. Here are simple ways:
- Taste what you are cooking first before adding salt; this is to estimate the salt you need (or not!) to add
- Adding a splash of olive oil, vinegar, or lemon juice to what you are cooking can enhance your meals, similar to salt
- Reduce the use of canned and pickled vegetables as they have packaged salt
- Processed meats, such as salami, sausages, ham and bacon have high salt content, so better avoid them
- In choosing a type of salt, iodised salt is much better
- Avoid eating instant pasta or noodles, canned or dehydrated soup mixes, salty crackers, chips and salted nuts (natural nuts are so tasty!)
- Monitor the addition of soy sauce, tomato sauce, processed sauces, stock powders and condiments, as these contain high levels of salt
How to prepare healthy food
There are many nutritious foods out there to add to your diet; however, without proper food preparation, you may still get health issues and chronic diseases. The key is eating a well-balanced diet following general safety guidelines, picking up the right produce and cooking in a healthy method.
You don’t really have to give up tasty and delicious recipes; you just have to find perfect healthy alternatives to ingredients that are dangerous to your wellness. By simply switching ingredients and avoiding unhealthy eating habits can do much more than you imagine. 😉