It’s easy to get confused with the daily bombardment of information on how to eat correctly, lose weight, control cholesterol or prevent diabetes. We are pummelled with health advice from all angles. I have distilled 12 easy healthy eating pointers that will ensure you eat well and aid you to lose weight.

1. Colour your Plate

Make sure your food filled plate is as colourful as an artist’s palette. If your plate is mostly brown and white it is likely there is too much meat and carbohydrates. Colour ensures a wide range of the vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants so abundant in our natural foods. Cut down on the carbohydrates, a quick and easy way to reduce your weight.

2. Cut out the Sugar, Lower the Salt

Sugar is implicated in the risk of diabetes and the metabolic syndrome. It causes weight gain and can play havoc with your mood and energy. Add spices to your meals for variety and lower your need for that sugar fix. Salt will cause fluids to build up in your body, so keep it low, especially if you have a medical condition.

3. Avoid second helpings

Keep first helpings small. Use smaller plates. Don’t go back for unnecessary second helpings. You needn’t deprive yourself of your favourite sinful snack, but keeping it small starts in the supermarket. Don’t buy what you don’t need. Don’t be seduced by the ‘Passage of Sugary Death’ as you wait to pay at the supermarket checkout. Train your body to eat less, which means eating  until you are not hungry, not until you are full.

4. Watch those Bad Oils

Not all fats are bad and unsaturated fats, including monounsaturated (e.g. avocados, canola, olive, sesame, grape-seed and nuts) and polyunsaturated (safflower, sunflower, flaxseed and soy) fats are beneficial. Saturated and trans-fats however should be avoided. These are found in fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, coconut, palm oils, and in many cakes, biscuits, cookies, pastries and icings. These contribute to the risk of heart attacks and strokes and should be avoided.

5. Eat the Right Meat

Go heavy on the fish, moderate on the chicken and infrequent on the red meat. Remember to remove the skins before cooking. Protein will fill you up and prevent your cravings for fats or carbs. Healthy proteins include seafood, lean meat, egg whites, yogurt, cheese, soy, nuts and beans.

6. Load your Plate with Vegetables

Vegetables will provide you with fibre, vitamins and minerals. They are low in calories and fat, will look after your bowels, reduce your cholesterol, help control hypertension and prevent weight gain.

7. Enjoy Fruit

Fruit are packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals. Pomegranates, Berries and cherries are particularly high in anti-oxidants, bananas in potassium, sweet melon in Vitamin A, citrus and strawberries in Vitamin C, Avocados (yes it’s a fruit!) in monosaturated good oils, tomatoes and watermelon in lycopene (antioxidant), Papayas in Vitamin’s A, C and E and Pineapple in bromelain which helps as a digestive enzyme. Fruit will satisfy your sweet tooth, but careful not to overdo it as too much sugar from any source is best avoided.

8. Hydrate Happily

Drink water; sparkling, flavoured or tea infusions rather than concentrated fruit juices or soft drinks. Limit alcohol, no more than 2 units a day for men and 1 unit a day for women. Alcohol is high on calories. Coffee is okay in smaller quantities.

9. Nuts, seeds and legumes

Nuts, seeds and legumes are rich in magnesium, protein, fibre, vitamins and good oils, including omega-3 acids. They will play a role in reducing cardiovascular risk, help regulate your bowel, lower cholesterol and maintain a healthy weight.

10. How much and how often?

Eat regularly, small quantities (don’t miss breakfast!) and NEVER allow yourself to get hungry. Your decisions about what to eat will be worse when you are hungry. The hungry brain does not worry about health or weight. A steady supply of energy to your body will ensure no dips in energy or hyper-reactive responses to a high calorie load.

11. Take care WHERE you eat

Where you eat and who is preparing the food will influence what you put in your mouth. Avoid fast foods and regard food in restaurants with caution – they will invariably contain polyunsaturated or trans fats that are used to enhance taste and satisfy the taste buds.

12. Eat mindfully

Eating is a social and sensual experience. It’s one our greatest pleasures. It should be enjoyed to the full – the tasteful sensations, the occasions it celebrates and the company of those with whom we share our food. Eating slowly with a mindful approach to the part it plays in our lives will add to the overall quality of the experience and ensure a healthful approach to food.

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12 Steps to Healthy Eating