Simple Ways I've Been Eating Healthier

I wouldn't say I've gone completely mental about healthy eating, but I have started looking at very straightforward ways I can improve my diet. Nothing revolutionary that's difficult to adapt my routine to, or requires a lot of preparation. Lucky for me, during my search, I found some great tips that I — and anyone — can adopt.

Image: Clay Irving / Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

Skipping Rice, Pasta And Bread Altogether

While I have no plans to abandon carbohydrates, I have found removing the pasta, rice or bread component of a meal not only results in a healthy dish, but a smaller portion. For example, if you're making bolognese, just cook the mince, add the sauce and serve that.

True, you do have to stop yourself from just heaping on an extra serving, but what I've found helps is thinking about the amount of leftovers I want for the next day. Obviously, anything additional I eat for dinner is going to mean a smaller lunch. As a result, I tend to give myself more reasonable portions.

I've only been cooking for myself or one other, so applying this to a meal where you need to stretch out the protein would be more difficult. Fortunately, there's something you can do about that.

Cauliflower Rice (And Other Alternatives)

This is a recent discovery by me. Like making noodles from zucchini, you can either hand-grate cauliflower or throw it into the food processor for a faux-rice experience. From there, you can put the pieces into the microwave, sans water, to give them a more rice-like texture, or toss them in the frying pan with a bit of oil and spices and eat them on their own. Unlike regular rice, you don't have to heavily flavour cauliflower rice — the vegetable with a small amount of seasoning is tasty enough, though I could eat it with nothing at all.

The other great thing I've been buying is the wet low-calorie noodles made from Konjac root. They're easy to prepare — just drain and wash them to get rid of the bitter taste and add them to your finished dish. I've also spotted rice made from Konjac in a number of health food stores, but I've yet to try it.

Buying In Bulk And Using My Freezer

I live in St Kilda, so the urge to just pop down the road and enjoy the suburb's unending supply of fine food is hard to resist. What I've found is that I'm most tempted when the fridge and pantry are bare. That way, I can sneakily convince myself that the hassle of going to the supermarket and buying the components to cook something up isn't worth it. Instead, I end up at my local Thai takeaway and gorge myself on delicious pad see ew.

On the other hand, when I do go to the supermarket, if I make sure to purchase all the supplies I need for say, a week's worth of meals and toss the mince, chicken and other protein in the freezer, then I know I have the option to cook something up. The great thing is, I'm not overly pressured to cook right now, lest my consumables expire, so I still retain flexibility in what I eat. Yet, I somehow feel obligated to cook part of what I bought each day. It's an odd subconscious tug-of-war that works out well in the wash.

Buying Cordial (Or Fruit) Instead Of Soft Drinks

The last time I had a Coke was over five years ago. But that doesn't mean I gave up the bubbly stuff. Instead, I supplemented with Sprite, Ginger Ale and other alternatives. It can be argued that Coke is probably the worst of the bunch so I've made a small win here, but I can do better. Water is fine most of the time, but on particularly hot days, or when I'm quite thirsty, nothing hits the spot like a dose of flavoured H2O. When this is the case, I turn to a bottle of lemon cordial.

The sticker on the side recommends one part cordial to four parts water, but I found that unbearably sweet. Instead, I usually go with 1:6 at most, though often less. A few ice cubes on top and it's as refreshing, if not more so, than an carbonated beverage.

A fresher alternative is to just pop a piece of lemon or lime in water. I'm terrible though at using fruit after I've cut it — usually it just goes off in the fridge. With cordial I can moderate my intake and I don't have to use all of it at once (or within a short time frame).

Over To You...

If you have any tips in the same vein to share, please leave them in the comments!


Comments

    Cauliflower can also be used as a terrific substitute for mashed potato.

      But why would you when you can have both?

        Because the article is about eating healthy not just eating whatever you want. I mean why eat cauliflower at all when you can eat a deep fried mars bar.

          My point is that potatoes are as healthy as cauliflower. The worst thing you could say about them is that they contain more calories but if you have an active, healthy lifestyle you need calories. In most other respects they are quite similar.

    I'm a fan of making healthy swaps - using ricotta instead of butter in baking, for example, adding legumes to mince to make it healthier and cheaper, and making 'ice cream' out of bananas. I've listed a bunch of healthy swap ideas here: http://luluintherunningshoes.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/almond-ricotta-pancakes-with-strawberries-and-pistachio-crumble/

      Try experimenting with almond meal as an alt to flour. Lots of fun stuff to make!

    A 200ml glass of Coke has 21g of sugar, a 200ml glass of Sprite has 20g of sugar. I don't think there's much of a win there at all, unless you're concerned about the caffeine content. I don't like plain water much myself, so I've found a couple of slices of a fresh citrus fruit (orange is my favourite, lime or lemon are good too) in a glass of iced water is beautifully refreshing.

      A can of Coke contains about as much caffeine as a weak cup of tea, so caffeine is not an issue with Coke, either. I noticed at Maccas, too, that a small orange juice or a small, healthy seeming smoothie has more calories than a small Coke.

      I just drink sugar free soft drinks, although I don't kid myself that its actually good for you at least it removes the sugar from the equation.

    In my opinion the most important change you can make is to cut sugar from your diet because eating sugar causes an insulin reaction which stops your body from burning fat.

      You don't need to cut sugar, just use it in moderate amounts. Like fats and salts, sugar is actually good for you in moderate amounts.

    I keep several bags of mixed veggies in my freezer and I just add that in to whatever I eat. It keeps me full and makes up most of the meal so it's not high in calories.

    Cauliflower is great. I use it instead of rice regularly now. Also as the 'carb' portion to your meal. i.e a steak & lightly sautéed grated cauliflower.
    Also, absolutely incredible with an Indian curry..

    Mount Franklin Lightly Sparkling flavoured waters are my new "soft drink" of choice, bubbly and tasty and zero sugar!

    I'm diabetic so this is coloured with that but recently I've been getting a bit more serious about adjusting my diet. I'll never go with a diet that I dislike: it will make me hate the entire process which will defeat the purpose of trying to eat "healthier". I'm also a seriously lazy eater. If i can have an easier meal or snack I will.

    I've always (since becoming diabetic) drank diet variants of drinks as non-diet is horrifically awful for my BGL and am fine with them now. Also enjoy low-carb/no-added sugar cordials. On occasion water, lemon/lemon juice and some sweetener is great but... I might have mentioned I'm lazy. Drinks by and large I've got covered. Getting rid of full sugar drinks though I think is a good thing for anyone, whether or not you're diabetic and wish I'd done it before I was 'forced' to.

    But more recently, I've been just doing the 'swap' thing in small doses. One thing I've taken to doing is having frozen berries (very low carb/GI/GL, high antioxidant, decent fibre) in the freezer and buying lots of the low fat/no sugar added yoghurts. One of the standard yoghurt tubs by itself is never enough for me but if I dump a whole heap of those berries in a bowl, tip some yoghurt in and mix it's a big helping of very low carb filling delicious goodness.

    Doing that and keeping a constant supply of apples (I love oranges too but get bored with peeling them and frustrated at the messy hands afterwards... yes as I mentioned I'm lazy) at hand means I've got healthier easy snacks available most of the time. I don't cut out entirely other things but take them less frequently and in smaller amounts.

    Meals... well this is my downfall. I barely bother cooking for myself so I trawl the supermarkets for the specials on decent frozen microwave meals and veggies. Those steam in the bag veggies, or meals low in carb and higher in fibre, protein with decent amounts of veggies. Recently stocked up in a heap of those meals at $4 a pop. You can't do too much better than that for value and if you pick and choose you can get a decent mix of tasty enough meals.

    It's not super healthy eating but it's something I am happy to do and that's the important thing I think. You really have to change in a way that you'll stick with. And it may or may not be a first step that you'll then take another one on from later on but in either case eating better - even if its incrementally - is a good thing.

    Oh and I could never give up pasta, bread and pizza. Instead I have smaller amounts of pasta, less pizza and wholemeal and other lower GI breads. Thankfully - for me - pizza and pasta don't seem to affect my BGL in a terrible fashion. Bread on the other hand........

    Cordial? That just defeats the whole purpose of healthy.

    I've been having cordial but making it really weak, just enough to give the water a hint of flavour.

    I'm going to try this cauliflower rice trick though!

      Your comment about the cordial is spot on. As a nutritionist, the biggest mistake I see people making is trying to cut out fat and sugar completely from their diet. This is both unfeasible and unnecessary.

      Sugar is fine - as long as you utilise it as a treat or consume it at a time when your body could use a glucose hit. Say you've just mowed the lawn for an hour in the searing heat of the day - a glass of cordial will not kill you or make you fat.

      Diet soft drinks are fine, but I find that people who drink too many are compelled to eat fatty foods. In this case, I actually encourage them to have a fresh juice or week cordial drink. Yes, it's empty calories, but the energy hit usually prevents them from seeking out more high-fat/high-sugar options and binge eating an hour later.

    You need to be careful with cordial and fruit juice still. They can be just as sugary as soft drinks depending on the brand or how strong you make your cordial. The only added benefit you get from fruit juice are the vitamins, but you can get them in a pill if you're lacking vitamins from your diet, so the only obvious goal would be to reduce your intake of "bad" things.

    I think the trick with water is to stop thinking of drinking as something you do when you want something nice tasting.
    You are really supposed to be drinking to stay hydrated, therefore it doesn't really matter that water doesn't taste very exciting. Maybe throw in a cordial every now & then to spice things up if you really feel the need, but otherwise water should be just an automatic choice for thirst.

    Why the hate on rice and potatoes? They are both good for you. What's wrong with spuds is the way they are most often prepared but if you cook them in a more healthy way they are an excellent source of many good things. I cook them in their jackets in teh microwave for 4 minutes and they are delicious. And what's wrong with pasta? I'd be very surprised if a bowl of bolognese sauce is as good for you as a bowl of spaghetti bolognese.

    As for water, it tastes awful and it doesn't quench my thirst so I end up drinking it until I feel sick. Consequently, I don't drink it at all.

    I think the secret is moderation. I went to the extent of throwing out all my plates and bowls and buying smaller ones as a highly effective means of portion control. For example, instead of getting 4 meals from 500g of beef mince, now I get 6. I still drink a litre of Coke a day but by the simple act of moving to smaller glasses I've cut it down from more than 1.5 litres a day.

    I don't know why but a few years ago a switch went off in my brain and I went from someone who always looked for the biggest steak or chicken breast at teh butchers to someone who seeks out the smallest one. I tihk it was initially when I was out fo work for a while and was looking for the cheapest one but these days it has transfered to me just looking for the small one so that it will fit on my new, small plate. I've even discovered a beer that tastes so good that I would rather have a 4-pack of it than a 6-pack of anything else I can think of, and a 4-pack costs $15 ($65 a case), so I have even reduced my beer intake quite a bit. It's Vale DRK if you're interested.

    And once you get into it, it works for you everywhere. e.g. 5 years ago a kebab was enough for lunch but not for dinner, so I'd either order one with extra meat or I'd get a kebab and chips. These days a kebab is more than plenty for dinner and I often struggle to eat it all.

      Most of what you say goes against advice I've gotten from a nutritionist, I think a lot of people don't require the amount of carbs they eat on a daily basis due to every meal revolving around pasta, rice, bread and potato so to substitute these for healthy vegetables is a great starting point for a lot of people wanting to make changes to their diets. As for drinking a litre of coke a day, have you considered changing to Coke Zero or Pepsi Max, as it is if that is the only sugar you eat (which I doubt it would be) you're already at over 4 times the RDI which puts you in the high risk category for developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

        There is nothing in anything I wrote to suggest that I am carbo loading. I only eat pasta once a week, I hardly ever eat rice and I don't eat bread very often, either. I generally buy two small potatoes a week and I probably have instant mash once a week, too. The thing with high carb food is that it is largely quite bland so you generally only use it as plate filler. But when you have a tiny plate, by the time you put half a chicken breast, half a cob of corn and some broccoli on it, it doesn't leave much room for filler (hence the small potatoes). Of course, it all goes out the window on the weekend when I fill up with beer but that's simply not negotiable.

        Coke Zero and Pepsi Max taste disgusting. I'm already 54, I think if I was going to develop diabetes it would have kicked in by now. You can't apply RDIs to each individual, everybody is different. Coke is the one and only sweet thing I eat or drink. I don't like chocolate and I only eat cakes or ice cream when they are offered to me. I am probably far more active than you are, too, and having easily convertible sugar can be handy during a long ride or a full day on deck.

          So is this just a big list of what you do or does it relate to the advice given in this article? It's hard for you to say you're far more active than me as you have no idea of my lifestyle.

    All well and good except that cauliflower tastes like arse.

    Michael Pollan says it all in just 7 words.
    "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

    There's an aweful lot contained in those 7 words though. Especially the first two.
    Read his article here;
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/28/magazine/28nutritionism.t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
    or read his book "In Defense Of Food" for a more thorough insight.

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