Roast meat and vegetables in the oven instead of frying. You can roast pretty much anything in the oven in half an hour or less with only one teaspoon of olive oil, salt and pepper. Use foil to line the oven tray or make a foil “boat” for no-mess and easy clean up afterwards.
Try to have at least one meatless day a week. Use beans, tomato salads and salads with nut toppings, oven roasted broccoli and cauliflower, spinach and mushrooms with or without eggs to compensate.
Snack on fruit, vegetables and low fat plain yogurts instead of chips and chocolate bars. If you don’t like plain yogurts, make your own toppings using fruit, berries, seeds, nuts, honey or cinnamon.
Try to eat meals that are at least half vegetables. Vegetables can be eaten in pretty much unlimited amounts and can easily fill up a plate making a meal look larger.
Use fresh sliced tomato or mashed avocado instead of ketchup and mayo in sandwiches. Most chicken or turkey sandwiches and wraps taste delicious without any sauces at all when topped with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce.
Go whole grains when possible. White flour based products taste better but they are stripped from most of vitamins and fiber making them of low value to your body. Also due to higher fiber contents whole grains take a lot longer to digest keeping you fuller longer. Eat oatmeal, quinoa, brown and wild rice, rye and wholegrain bread when you can.
Although whole grain rice and pasta are healthier, white rice and pasta cooked with vegetables and without sugar based sauces, cream and butter are not at all bad and are pretty healthy as far as meal choices go.
When making rice or pasta, throw a couple of handfuls of frozen vegetables in e.g., peas, carrots, and broccoli to make the meal more nutritious and colourful.
An affordable way to add fish to your diet is to use canned and buy frozen. Use canned tuna for salads and baked potato toppings and sardines for bruschettas. Fish is a difficult product to keep so it often goes on a special offer close to the sell by date, so it helps to keep an eye on the price.
Homemade muesli is easy to make and it’s a lot healthier, it’ll taste better and will contain exactly what you want, not what is cheaper to produce. Buy a pack of oats, a pack of cranberries and a pack of mixed nuts – and you’ve got a royal rubbish-free mix. Top it with honey and fresh berries and serve with low fat milk.
Meal planning is essential. You will never make any good food related decisions when hungry, or when you are full for that matter. Plan ahead, even before you go shopping, what you will cook and eat – you’ll end up spending less time and money and you’ll make better and healthier choices, too. It’s too late to think of what you are going to eat for lunch when you’re already half way through your day. For emergencies, keep some kind of meat and vegetables in the freezer, rice, pasta and canned tomato paste in the cupboard to make emergency meals – have at least 3-4 recipes of under 30min meals you know how to make on hand.
Use smaller bowls and plates for every meal serving to trick yourself into thinking you eat more than you do. Basically it’s an optical illusion that tricks your brain into thinking you are eating a “full plate”. It helps when you are trying to eat smaller portions throughout the day.
Eat slower to eat less and get more satisfaction out of food. When you eat fast, your brain hasn’t got enough time to register “fullness” signals coming from your stomach and you end up eating more. You don’t have to chew everything a bazillion times, but try to stretch the eating process to make it last at least twenty minutes when you can.
Eat one piece of fruit with every breakfast. Turn it into a “Fruit of the day” challenge. It doesn’t have to be a different type of fruit every time, as long as you have a piece. If you don’t have time to crunch on anything, make a smoothie or slice it up – it’s all about making it convenient.
Get used to drinking coffee and tea without sugar and water instead of soft drinks. Use milk with coffee, lemons and mint with tea and cucumbers and ice cubes with water to make the transition easier.
Try to only eat home cooked meals, avoid anything pre-made and ready. No one will care about your food (and what’s in it) more than you do.
Try to always sit down at a table and eat when possible instead of eating on the go or in front of the TV. The less attention you are paying to your food, the less your brain registers how much you eat making you think you ate less.
If you are going to have a dessert, have it at least an hour after the main meal to let your body deal with the food you have already eaten first. Anything you add on top will go straight into reserves, slow you down and make you sleepy.
Make your meals look good. Food that looks “pretty is often also more satisfying. How you serve something can affect how much and how often you eat, your eating experience and your relationship with food in general. If what you serve looks like it has already been eaten once you will eat it fast, instantly forget about it and will probably reach out for something to be comforted after. You don’t have to organise a parade or stick flowers into anything, just try to keep your meals more colourful and have them arranged slightly better. The easiest way to do that is to add lettuce to your plate (even if you won’t eat it), sliced tomatoes or cucumbers and don’t just throw everything in a pile on a plate.
How to make lettuce tasty: rinse a batch under cold water and sprinkle it with white wine vinegar, leave it in the sink or salad bowl for ~10 minutes. Shake and serve.