It is widely supported in the weight loss world that the best way to lose weight is with a healthy balanced diet. That’s all good, but what is a healthy balanced diet and what are you meant to buy, to cook or eat? I will put my hand up as guilty and say that I do take it for granted that everybody knows what a healthy balanced diet consists off.
The truth is that there is not one and only ‘balanced, healthy diet’. What it refers to is more like a dietary pattern. So your every day diet could be as healthy and balanced as the neighbour’s and at the same time you may be eating totally different styles of food.
So what could you include in your grocery list? This list is not exhaustive and only a sample.
Surely olive oil is fattening and full of calories? Yes it can be, but it is also a rich source of omegas and also antioxidants and vitamin E. Overall is considered to help in preventing conditions such as heart disease and cancer. It is always better to replace butter or margarine with olive oil instead of just adding it on extra.
Tip: Place the oil in a spray bottle to help you keep track of how much you use in your food. Make your own balsamic vinaigrette and olive oil sauce for your salads and replace the mayonnaise with it. You will be halving the calories.
In any form, colour, shape and size, vegetables are a number one in a healthy diet. I will not discriminate on one over the other in terms of better nutrition as they all have their own nutritional value and benefits including antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. The added bonus on a weight loss diet is that vegetables are low in calorie content so they can fill you up without breaking the calorie bank.
The cooking and processing can change the nutritional and calorific value of vegetables so, no, deep fried carrots are not quite a healthy, low calorie side dish. Opt for fresh instead of tined or frozen and avoid frying them. Finally go easy on the sauces.
Tip: Vegetable sticks make great mid day snacks. Mix them up or combine them with a light dip. Add carrots, celery, and cucumber on your list for veggie sticks!
This is a personal favourite recommendation. Avocados are high in fat but also high in nutrients as they contain vitamin E and K, folate, potassium, folic acid and fibre amongst others. Overall they contain most vitamins that the body needs along with other nutrients.
Avocados can add on a salad or as a snack on their own with some balsamic vinaigrette, or in breakfast with yogurt and mixed nuts. Be aware of its calorific content as a medium avocado can contain an average of 100kcal, but their nutritious content does make them a must have in a healthy shopping list.
The rumour is that avocados are good for the hair and skin, so there may be an added benefit to them.
Eggs can be cooked in so many ways and for less than 100 calories. A boiled egg can be about 73 kcal and a plain omelette is about 93kcal. Eggs are high in protein, folate, vitamin D and A, selenium and other nutrients.
However, due to their high cholesterol content it is usually recommended to not eat a lot of eggs. They can provide with a low calorie lunch or a snack option once or twice a week so do add them in your list and keep them in moderation. They are versatile and you could find numerous of recipes which will keep your meals interesting.
Tip: Opt for free range eggs rather as the quality in the nutrients is likely to be better than the caged hens’ ones. If you have a farm close by its worth checking if they sell any.
Similarly as the vegetables principle, do go for fruits indiscriminately. Each fruit has its own nutritional value and health benefits. Some studies have suggested that blueberries can actually aid weight loss. Regardless berries can be rich in antioxidants and therefore they can protective benefits against cancer and other health conditions.
That doesn’t make them the best or the only fruits to add at your shopping list. There is ample of choice out there so there should be something to satisfy everybody’s taste. Add a fruit as a snack or just to satisfy a sweet craving.
Tip: boil some fruits with a splash of liquor for a low calorie desert.
Foods like white bread, white pasta and most cereal tend to be refined carbohydrates, high in calories, high in sugar and salt and low in nutritional value. However, it’s not as easy to follow a low carbohydrate diet especially for those who are not very keen with vegetables and greens.
Don’t have to eliminate carbohydrates completely but rather replace them with some of their healthier cousins. Some studies do suggest that women who consume whole grain foods are likely to weigh less than those who consume white, refined carbs.
Add brown rice in your list as your carb option. Because brown rice doesn’t go through extensive refining procedures it should have most of its nutrients when it reaches your plate. It may be surprising but brown rice can be rich in magnesium, manganese and selenium amongst others. All these trace elements can be very important for health and the metabolic processes of the body.
Fish (lean and oily)
It’s no news but fish oils have numerous benefits and play an important role in health and weight loss. I say why buy a bottle of fish oil capsules and not add more oily fish in your diet. In addition, fish is usually low in calories and apart from the fish oils is rich in a number of other nutrients.
There are loads of different varieties and species so it should be one for every taste. Fish can also be cooked in a number of ways so imagination and loads of recipes can keep your diet very interesting and tasty.
Oily fish include salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel herring, trout, kippers, anchovies, swordfish and more. Lean fish include cod, place, dover sole, haddock, Pollock, mullet, see bass, hake and many more.
Although oily fish are good for health there have been concerns about farmed salmon and also that oily fish may contain dioxins and PCB’s which in large amounts can be harmful.
Also be aware of environmental issues such as some fish can be in danger of becoming exiting. Overall eat in moderation (not every day) and responsibly so do mix and eat a variety of fish including non-oily as well.