The Great British winter is, at best, a long and bleak endurance exercise. Short, cold days mixed with rainy, miserable outlooks can lead us to take up some not-so-welcome habits.
But fear not – mother nature is here to give us a much-needed boost. Snowdrops and crocuses are already peeking through muddy lawns, and the days are getting longer and warmer.
Now’s a great time to harness the positivity of spring and clean up your eating habits so that you can feel your best when the sun comes out again. Read on for our best tips!
Things to eat more of
Fruit and veg
Think about fruit and vegetables in terms of their colour. How much variety is there in your fruit and veg drawer? Ideally, you should aim to eat all the colours – reds, greens, yellows, blues and purples. Eating a colourful variety will help support gut health, ward off illness and prevent premature ageing. Each colour has its own superpower, so making sure you’re seeing a rainbow every time you pick up your fork means you’re giving your body as many great health-boosting powers as you can.
You’ll always find an array of colours in your Balance Box meals- we always include a minimum of 10 fruits and vegetables each day to optimise your variety and keep you feeling amazing. View our menus here.
Whole grains and complex carbs
Complex carbohydrates release their energy slowly which maintains energy levels, keeps you feeling fuller for longer and reduces the desire for snacking. Complex carbohydrates are found in whole grains, vegetables and legumes, so consider swapping simple carbohydrates for complex ones: white rice for quinoa, white potatoes for sweet potatoes and white pasta for whole-grain pasta.
We need some fat in our diet, but what we really want is the good kind. What’s the good kind, I hear you ask? Olive oil, organic eggs, avocados, nuts, good quality meat, oily fish, soya beans and seeds are great places to start. These good fatty foods contain Omega-6 and Omega-3 which can help lower the risk of heart disease and strokes. Cut back on the “bad” saturated and trans fats found in cakes, cookies, margarine, fast food and milk chocolate and up your good fats and you’ll be surprised at how much better you feel!
Things to cut back on
Sometimes it’s ok to be ruthless and throw out the foods that throw us into a frenzy. While it’s ok to enjoy the occasional sweet treat, you’ll do yourself a favour by ridding of the foods in the kitchen that are laced with added sweeteners. Too much sugar can lead to weight gain, irritability and type 2 diabetes. Breakfast time is a good place to start – so, replace sugary breakfast cereals and flavoured yoghurts with oats, plain yoghurt, fresh fruit and toasted rye bread. Or, let Balance Box do the hard work for you- our breakfasts are always delicious and healthy, and never a pain to whip up. Check out our menus here.
Unless you follow a radical, sodium-free diet (which would be extremely difficult to do, and also pretty boring), think ‘low’ not ‘no’. Government guidelines recommend no more than 6g (or a teaspoon) of salt a day, and less for younger children. Boost flavour with herbs and spices rather than an extra pinch of salt. Herbs and spices are packed with antioxidants and minerals to help you feel your best while supplying you with fantastic tastes and flavours.
Refined grains and carbs
These are grains that have had the fibrous and nutritious part removed such as white flour and white rice. They’re converted into glucose and released into the bloodstream quickly – too quickly in fact. This causes a problem as our bodies are unable to accurately control the flow of sugar in our blood. A flood of sugar causes a flood of insulin, which then leads to a sugar crash and tiredness. What do we do when we’re tired? We reach for foods that are high in sugar so we can get an instant hit of energy. Unrefined is really where it’s at- brown rice, brown bread, quinoa, bran cereal, and that’s what we supply at Balance Box. You won’t find refined carbs in your boxes (not to brag)!
A lack of time can often cause us to reach for unhealthy takeaways and processed ready meals which are full of salt, sugar and bad fats. This can cause us to consume way over the daily recommended amounts which in turn can contribute to all sorts of health problems. Instead, look for quick and healthy recipes which use whole foods, or check out our range of healthy, nutritiously balanced meals which can be delivered to your door, and mean you’re never at a loss for what to have for dinner.
Pre-pro biotics and fibre
We should also always aim to include plenty of fibre in our diets as it lowers the risk of serious conditions such as heart disease, strokes, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer. The British Nutrition Foundation recommends we eat 30g of fibre a day, but the average person eats just 18g. Oh dear. Eat plenty of whole-wheat bread, rice and pasta, load up with nuts, seeds and wholegrain cereals and bag yourself a rainbow of fresh and ideally organic fruits and vegetables. Chickpeas, pulses and beans are fabulous sources of fibre too.
Our Balance Box meals ensure you’re getting all the fibre you need to stay healthy so that you don’t have to worry if you’re getting the optimal amounts. Browse our menus here.
Watch your portion size. Remember, if you consume more calories than you need, your body will store these extra calories as fat, and you will gain weight. Even if you’re eating the ‘right’ foods, if you eat too much of them, and you’re not active, you’ll be disappointed if your goal is to maintain or lose weight. Stick to the Rule of Palm:
- 1 palm-size portion of protein
- 1 palm-size portion of complex carbohydrates
- 2 palm-sized portions of fruit or vegetables
A simple but effective tip to remember is to eat slowly. By taking your time to chew, you’ll eat less, feel full and enjoy the flavours and textures of your meal more.
Around 60% of the body and 90% of blood is made up of water. It’s no surprise, therefore, that when dehydration kicks in, our body’s ability to function at its best starts to go down. Dehydration can often lead to headaches and overall bad health, and who needs that?
So, how much water should we be drinking? Nutritionist Rita Arora, says: “Most people go with the 2 litres of water a day rule. But actually, we should be more specific and aim to drink a minimum of 35ml of water per kilo of body weight. So, a person weighing 100kg would need around 3.5 litres of water a day.” Get sipping, folks!
Plan more plant-based meals
Forgoing meat just once a week can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. What’s more, studies show that people who eat a plant-based diet tend to weigh less than meat-eaters. But don’t replace meat with a processed alternative because these often contain added salt, sugars and fats. Instead, opt for tofu, eggs, pulses and lentils. Adding more plant and whole foods into your diet can be a godsend for your general health.
That’s why we here at Balance Box have come out with a new Plant-Based box! Free from meat, dairy, animal products, wheat and gluten, the new Plant-Based Balance Box is here to ensure you receive all the nutrients you should want or need as someone cutting out meat and animal bi-products. Find out more here.
Grow your own
Not only will you gain nutritious and fresh ingredients, but you’ll also get plenty of exercise! Research shows tending your own vegetable patch is a great way to destress and even help to ward off depression and anxiety. Don’t have a garden? Try planting in a window box or container garden instead. You can even grow some herbs in pots on your windowsill.
This spring, give your eating some additional pep and feel your best for the sunny months. Why not give your digestion a spring clean with a Balance Box menu plan delivered straight to your door? It’s quick, easy, and takes out the stress and effort of eating well and losing weight. Our meals are nutritionally designed, chef-cooked, and delivered to your door so you never have to worry about what you’re going to eat. Order yours here.