Frida Harju-Westman, nutritionist at the global health app Lifesum (www.lifesum.com), comments….
Re-organise your kitchen
One of the most effective ways to improve your diet, is to make your surroundings conducive to a healthier lifestyle. For many people this starts and ends in the kitchen and there are several things you can do to make your kitchen a healthier place. A simple hack to stop yourself from late night snacking, is to move high-calorie foods to the back of the fridge, leaving the front free for healthier snacks like carrot sticks and hummus. Try storing any sweets, biscuits or chocolates in opaque containers, as researchers at Cornell University found that those who stowed their snacks in clear containers, tended to eat double the treats, than those who kept them in opaque jars. It’s also a good idea to reorder your kitchen cupboards, moving smaller plates to the front, making them more accessible, as research has found that when you eat from a small plate, you tend to consume less food.
Ensure you have a balanced diet
When it comes to improving your diet, ensuring you eat a balance of foods is key. You should make sure that you eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, at least 5 a day. Make sure that they are part of each meal, for example having a banana with breakfast, some green vegetables like spinach, or asparagus for lunch and ensure that half of your plate for dinner is also vegetables. Also include starchy foods in your diet – potatoes with the skin on are a great option. Also try and make sure that your starchy foods are wholegrain, as these contain more vitamins and nutrients than the alternatives.
In addition to the fruits, vegetables and starch, be sure to eat enough protein. Good sources of protein include meat, fish, eggs and beans. Oily fish is a great source of omega-3, so try to eat fish twice a week if possible. I would also suggest eating dairy products which help with our calcium levels, as well as yoghurts, which contain bacteria essential for a healthy gut.
Drink plenty of water
There are many reasons why water is an essential component of our diet. Firstly, water assists the body in disposing of waste products, it also ensures a stable blood flow and provides your cells with the hydration they need in order to properly function. Another reason drinking water can improve your diet, is that very often our feelings of hunger are in fact feelings of thirst, leading us to reach for unnecessary snacks, when all our body really needs is a drink of water. It’s important therefore, to ensure you drink enough throughout the day. I recommend having a water cooler on your kitchen counter, a bottle, or simply a glass near the tap, as you will find that you drink more and feel hungry less. It’s also a good idea to try drinking 1-2 glasses of water before your meal, as this reduces feeling of hunger and ensures that you are less likely to overeat.
Reduce the amount of sugar in your diet
An easy way to improve your diet, is to reduce the amount of sugar you eat. When we’re feeling tired or sluggish, we quite often reach for sugary foods, to give us that quick boost. However, the truth is that sugar isn’t great for the body. To begin weaning your body off processed sugar, it's a good idea to start with a complete sugar detox for the first couple of days, as way to reset your body, before slowly introducing natural sugars and unrefined carbohydrates for the remainder of the month. If you are suffering from cravings, then try snacking on nuts and seeds as they are high in healthy fats and proteins that will keep you full for longer. Try also using alternative flavours, for example; a sprinkle of cinnamon on your porridge instead of the usual dollop of honey.
Lifesum (www.lifesum.com) is a Stockholm-based digital health company with over 25 million users. Using tech and psychology, it creates a tailored plan to help people live happier, more balanced lives. Whether the goal is to lose weight, build muscle, or just live a healthier life, Lifesum shows how changing small, everyday habits can transform your life. The app is available on iOS and Android.