Wellness 101: How to Reboot Your Diet
With the Lunar New Year festivities over, it is time to re-examine our eating habits and plan how we can make a healthy diet part of our daily lifestyle. Here are some ways to kickstart making changes to the way we eat for good.
Look at nutritional labels
Check out the nutrition content of what you’re going to buy and compare. Knowing how to decode nutritional labels can help us become smarter shoppers. For those who find decoding nutritional labels difficult, here are the things we need to look out for when reading nutritional labels:
- Serving size: How many portions the package contains
- Calories: The amount of calories per portion
- Look at the % Daily Value: This is how many percent of your daily nutritional needs the food meets
- Look at core nutrients: These are the nutrients that are good for you, or what you’d want more for. (e.g. calcium, iron)
- Look at additional nutrients: These are nutrients that you’d like less of or avoid ideally. (e.g. saturated fats or sodium)
A clean diet is a diet which cuts out food that consists of additives, preservatives, refined grains, unhealthy fats, as well as sugar and salt. Instead of processed foods, a clean diet encourages loading up on fruits and vegetables, which are filled with nourishing phytonutrients. Compared to refined grains, whole grains retain most of their nutritional value and contain more fiber as well as trace minerals such as selenium. On the other hand, refined grains consist of a high percentage of glucose.
Why Eat Clean?
Eating clean can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. As a clean diet contains more fiber, this also helps aid in digestion as well as bowel movements. Eating natural sugars instead of added sugars from refined foods help us avoid blood sugar spikes and the resulting mood and energy fluctuations. We also feel fuller for longer – which aids in helping us to maintain a healthy weight. Research has even shown that people who eat more fruits and vegetables (staples in a clean diet) are happier and more satisfied with life!
Still not convinced? — Eating clean can also help us to improve our skin complexions. Zinc and other minerals packed in clean foods help contribute to cell production. In fact – did you know that many acne sufferers are zinc deficient?
How to Start?
If such a drastic change from the get-go sounds challenging, start by making changes to your breakfast. Instead of white bread and other sugar-laden processed breakfast options such as white bread and pastry, opt for healthier choices with whole grains, oats and fruits.
Throughout the day, opt for healthier drink options such as plain water instead of soft drinks. For flavour, try adding lemon to your water instead of sugar-laden drinks with little nutritional value. Once you have made lasting changes to your breakfast habits, you can try to go clean at least once or twice a week for all your meals.
Intermittent fasting doesn’t sound particularly appealing in name. However, in reality – this is not just another unhealthy fad diet. Research has shown that intermittent fasting provides many benefits to our bodies – it can help boost our metabolism slightly and also makes positive changes to our hormones and cell functions. For more information, take a look at this and this.
How To Fast:
Intermittent fasting is simpler than it sounds. Simply put, intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where we split our time into “eating” and “fasting” periods. In fact, most of us already practise some form of intermittent fasting – when we sleep!
While there are many different methods of intermittent fasting, one of the most popular method is known as the Leangains protocol or the 16/8 method. 16 refers to the number of hours you fast, and 8 refers to the time period in which you can eat. If 16 hours of fasting sounds too much for you, those who do better on shorter fasts can also try 12 —15 hours instead.
An easy way to practise 12 hours of fasting is to restrict food intake from 8pm to 8am. In this case, we should eat dinner by 8pm, and only eat our breakfast after 8am. Sleep takes up a big chunk of the fasting period, so it’s a form of fast that won’t be felt as keenly. Another way to go about a longer fast is to skip breakfast – opting for liquids such as water in the morning and then restricting their eating periods from noon to 8 pm.
Whatever way you choose to kickstart your change to a healthier diet, the key is to just start! After all, it’s progress, not perfection, that’s the key to constant, positive improvement.
Conner TS1, Brookie KL, Richardson AC, Polak MA., “On carrots and curiosity: eating fruit and vegetables is associated with greater flourishing in daily life.”, British Journal of Health Psychological Society. 2015 May, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25080035
LD, Kristin Kirkpatrick MS RD. “Intermittent Fasting Has Benefits Beyond Weight Loss.” Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic, Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic, 6 Apr. 2017, health.clevelandclinic.org/2015/10/interested-fasting-health-get-facts-first/.
Fredericks, Kim. “Proven Benefits of Intermittent Fasting.” Reader’s Digest, Reader’s Digest, 25 Nov. 2017, www.rd.com/health/wellness/intermittent-fasting-benefits/.