Not everyone can afford the gym, no matter how good the deals are these days. But everyone can afford fruit and vegetables. It’s common knowledge by now that we need to eat more fruit and veg to get our five-a-day, but sometimes it isn’t as easy as just eating the five a day. People lead busy lives and adding children into the mix makes life even more hectic at times, but it’s so important to make time to prepare and eat healthy nutritious food. We may not see the benefits when we’re young, but when we get that little bit older and our bodies find it harder to recover or it’s more difficult to shift those extra few pounds we all put on over Christmas (thanks Nan, the turkey sandwiches and three tins of Roses were much appreciated…) that’s when it becomes apparent just how important a healthy lifestyle really is, and eating well is the best way to start.
Most mums will know the tricks and tips of the trade when it comes to getting vegetables into children’s diets, and as daft as it may sound, the same ideas apply to adults. If you’re not a huge fan of a certain vegetable, finely grating it and adding it into a pasta sauce is possibly the simplest way to start getting used to the taste. Grated vegetables are easy to add to savoury muffins too to kickstart your tastebuds into accepting new flavours. Just make sure when using pasta sauces and making your own muffins or breads that you watch the sugar and salt content. It’s easy enough to make your own pasta sauce anyway, with chopped tomatoes, olive oil and garlic, with fresh basil added at the last minute. You can use this sauce as the base, adding whatever vegetables you feel like trying.
An alternative to fresh vegetables is of course frozen. It’s easy to have a bag of mixed veg in the freezer and it doesn’t take long to cook in boiling water, but of course, fresh produce is always best; it’s understandable though these days when maybe we are not home as often as we’d like and fresh veg goes off after a while.
It’s not as easy at add fruit into your diet either, as lots of fruits contain sugars which can be bad for your teeth as well as other parts of your body when eaten too often and in large quantities. It’s best to take one or two pieces of fruit to work with you such as a banana and an apple, which are easy to transport and don’t require any preparation, then after your evening meal have something zesty like a tangerine to cleanse the palette. Chopped strawberries, blueberries and grapes are great sprinkled over muesli or yoghurt for breakfast, and makes for a lighter breakfast than toast or bagels.
Other ways to introduce a heathier lifestyle to ourselves is to make simple changes and to try getting into new habits that make it easier to see these changes through. Things like never shopping on an empty stomach, getting off the bus a few stops before work or home to walk, trying to up the pace when doing daily chores so that you work up a sweat, and planning your weekly menus so that you don’t feel tempted to grab a takeaway are all great little tips that once again will kickstart your healthy living journey.
More small changes you can make are even more simple, like carrying a water bottle with you during the day so that you’re hydrated. Sometimes we think we’re hungry when really we’re thirsty, plus keeping hydrated does wonders for your skin and allows you to think clearly without a headache. Cooking bigger portions so that you can freeze half is great too, so that if you’re ever home late from work you have a ready made meal that is nutritious and takes no longer than few minutes to reheat. And, one of the easiest things to do when it comes to food, is to chew slower. Our food is often swallowed before it’s ready to be, and that can make us eat more because our stomach hasn’t caught up and doesn’t know it’s full. Chewing that little bit slower helps aid digestion and reduces heartburn, and also allows us to talk more over dinner; after all, dinner should be a social occasion for all the family to catch up on each others days.
However small you start, remind yourself that the smallest step is often the first in the biggest journey. You’ll start seeing results and feeling better within yourself after a few weeks; you’ll notice you feel less sluggish and bloated, and you’ll probably find your skin looks and feels better too, maybe your hair and nails too after a few months. The things you can’t see such as your heart and liver will thank you too. It isn’t hard to engage yourself and your family in a healthy lifestyle; getting the kids to pick a new fruit or vegetable in the supermarket for example is a surefire way to reel them in and get them involved in food and cooking.
The most important thing to remember is to have fun with it; explore new foods and tastes, and try new cooking methods. Ask the family to help out, give them all jobs to do like setting them table, and all sit down together to eat at the table if you have one. You’ll really feel the benefits and so will your family.