As per my previous blog post on healthy habits, it's important to make small changes to your diet, rather than scarily cutting out everything and consequently battling thoughts of 'I WANT TO EAT ALL THE CHOCOLATE' everyday. So lets take it easy, and start with some awesome little swaps to clean up your diet in 2015. Remember, small changes every day make for big results long-term.
1. Swap margarine for butter or avocado
Margarine is a highly synthetic concoction laced with additives and cheap, low-grade refined oils. For the last 20 years we've all been conned into thinking it better for us because of the reduction in saturated fats. We now know that naturally occurring saturated fats (such as those found in butter and avocado) can be great for the body - providing a metabolism boost, supporting brain function and increasing immunity.
2. Make your own dressings, dips and sauces
Next time you go to the supermarket, have a look at the ingredients list on that pasta sauce, or hummus, or 'fat free' vinaigrette. You're likely to find sugar, artificial sweetener, thickeners and gums that you can't even pronounce, less likely want to put in your body. Even that tin of chopped tomatoes can be hiding additional sugar and salt. Instead, make your own from scratch. Choose simple replacements so that you're more likely to create them yourself. For a salad, try a mix of extra virgin olive oil and lemon, or apple cider vinegar. Pasta sauce: add chopped tomatoes + hot water + herbs to a pan and simmer. Dips can be simple too - think greek yoghurt with chives or chickpeas blended with tahini.
3. Swap white flour for ground oats or almond meal
Flour is seriously lacking in nutrition. The healthy elements found in the whole wheat kernel (including B Vitamins and fibres necessary for digestion) are stripped during the refinement and bleaching process. In baking, swap for oat flour (make by grinding rolled oats in a processor) or almond meal for a nutrient-dense alternative. For thickening soups and stews, try pureed cauliflower or greek yoghurt.
4. Make your own treats
Everyone needs a treat once in a while (for me that means once a day!), but you don't have to skip tasty snacks to be healthy, you just have to make your own. Refined sugars, fillers and additives found in store-bought stuff can wreak havoc on your body, so skip them and use snack time as another opportunity to nourish yourself. For inspiration, see here, here and here.
5. Ditch cow and soy milk for almond
Almond milk is made by mixing finely ground almonds with water. It has a very high nutritional value and is safe for those who are lactose / gluten / casein intolerant. It contains a great range of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, iron, fiber, zinc and calcium. It's also low in calories and fat, and can be enjoyed anywhere you would use ordinary milk. Look out for unsweetened versions or better yet, make your own.
6. Swap pasta for zoodles
Whether its whole wheat, white, black or green, pasta in all forms is starchy, and consequently messes with your blog sugar levels. Just skip it and use bloat-blasting veggies instead. Zucchini and carrots are awesome - either invest in a spiralizer (for curly veg) or a julienne peeler (straight strips) - or if you just like a good arm workout, very finely slice with a knife.
7. Cook in batches
Making a healthy dinner? Just double it and stick the rest in a container for lunch the next day. You'll save yourself cash and pounds on the scales.
8. Sip water and tea instead of diet soda (or full fat - but you don't go for that sh*t, right?)
It's not about calories here guys and gals, it's chemicals. Studies have shown even the calorie-free ones can lead to weight gain and obesity.