What you put into your body and how you put it affects your mood, immune system and energy levels. Eating the right foods in the
What you put into your body and how you put it affects your mood, immune system and energy levels. Eating the right foods in the right quantities strengthens your immune system helping you fight various diseases including heart diseases and various forms of cancer. Healthy eating habits will also bar you from acquiring lifestyle diseases like obesity and stroke that are on the rise.
According to the Ministry of Health survey in Kenya, obesity and overweight prevalence is high among adults in Kenya aged between 15-69 years. The rate is even high among women at 38.4 percent compared to men at 17 percent. This figures prove that adopting healthy eating habits is more than inevitable. Contrary to what you may think, it is highly achievable. The key is to do it in bits. Set small goals and reach them as you proceed to bigger goals. Consider the following keys to healthy eating
1. Cut down on animal fat
We all love animals. Am I right or am I right? The milk, the meat, security, eggs, silk, wool, and pets the list is endless. These perfect gifts to mankind are however packed with saturated fatty acids associated with LDL or bad cholesterol that can lead to diseases of the heart, small intestine, colorectal, prostate and breast cancers. Foods high in saturated fat include butter, food made with butter (cakes, pies, cookies), poultry skin, whole milk, products made with whole milk (ice cream, yogurt, cream cheese), processed meats (bacon, sausage and bologna), egg yolks and red meat.
- Cook chicken, turkey and duck without the skin, if already cooked remove the skin
- Look for skim milk or soy milk
2. Be keen on food portions
Servings of food are ballooning by the day. Restaurants want us to take in more and more with their humongous plates of food. Snacks come in gigantic packages. Back at home huge plates are heaped with food. This has butchered our thinking of the right amount of food. No wonder some are trying to lose weight in vain. Endeavor to eat a healthy portion even when presented with enormous plates of food.
- At restaurants split the food with another person
- Read food labels on snacks to ascertain number of servings in the package
- At home use small plates and don’t hurry for second servings. Instead allow for digestion and serve more later if still hungry
3. Eat a wide variety of foods
Yearn to maximize on the benefits each of the five food groups offer.
- Vegetables and legumes/beans
- Lean meats and poultry, fish eggs nuts and seeds
- Grains mostly whole grains (wheat, oats, rice, millet, corn etc.)
- Milk, yogurt
By eating a variety of foods you limit the toxins that might be present in a specific type of food from fertilizers, pesticides etc. Or in cities where sukumawiki (kale), is alleged to be planted in sewers.
- Eat plenty of produce including yellow, red, blue, purple, green, orange and red for a recipe idea, try this Shakshuka/North African Poached Eggs
- Have whole fruits in preference to juice for more fiber
4. Have healthy whole grains
Eating whole grains helps prevent diabetes, colon cancer and possibly asthma. Whole grains include whole wheat, whole oats, brown rice, corn, quinoa and barley
- Look for products labeled 100% whole wheat or whole grain
- at the supermarket do pick brown rice over white
- Go for whole meal or wholegrain bread also known as brown bread
5. And cut down on refined grains and added sugar
Refined grains have been stripped of phytochemicals (linked to a ton of health benefits). These refined varieties like white flour are mostly used in processed foods like regular pasta, white bread and most snacks. These foods are bad for your weight and can raise risk of heart disease and diabetes. Equally go slow on foods with added sugar like soda and candy that are sources of empty calories.
- Choose water over soft drinks, juice and soda
6. Keep of trans fat
Found in donuts (mandazi), deep fried fast food, biscuits, commercial baked goods and snacks. Trans fat is regarded by many doctors as the worst type of fat one could eat as it increases risk of heart disease, a leading killer globally. The more you indulge in junk and other deep fried rubbish the more trans-fat you consume together with a ton of salt and added sugars.
- Use oils like olive and sunflower in place of margarine and butter.
- Avoid commercial cakes, biscuits and pastries instead bake at home using soft margarine or unsalted butter
- Spread bread using peanut butter or avocado like in this Simple Avocado Toast With Eggs recipe instead of butter or margarine
7. Reduce sodium increase potassium
Excessive consumption of sodium found in salt is linked to increase in blood pressure that is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease that accounts for 70% of all strokes and half of heart diseases. Sodium and potassium have opposite effects on one’s health. Increased potassium intake helps relax blood vessels, excrete the sodium and decrease blood pressure
- Limit your daily salt intake to between 1500 to 2300 milligrams (about two-thirds of a teaspoon
- Take more fruits and vegetables rich in potassium
8. Enjoy meals
A great ingredient to health entails cooking and eating with others. A family meal for example is far much beneficial health wise than we think apart from strengthening ties and building better relationships in the family. Usually some substantial effort is taken in preparing such meals. While cooking, strive to adopt healthy cooking methods for examples do not boil vegetables till their color is drained. These depletes them of nutrients
- Stir fry vegetables and meat
- Use ground pepper, herbs and spices instead of salt
9. Water is essential
There is absolutely no way around this. As much as it provides no calories or nutrients, it is crucial for all forms of life. Apart from quenching thirst, it keeps tissues in the body moist, protects the spinal cord and acts as a lubricant for your joints
- Get yourself an aluminium water bottle, fill it with water and sip on it all day long. Apart from looking cool, you will be achieving wellness
There you have it. The 9 simple to adopt healthy eating habits. Seek to follow each of these tips and you will be on your way to achieving wellness and fitness. Got questions? Or in need of more insight, feel free to comment below. See you in the next post.
John is a passionate foodie and an advocate for balanced eating and healthy living. Healthy African Foodie is where he shares his wholesome recipes, cooking tips and kitchen tool reviews to make a healthy lifestyle an easier, more convenient choice for individuals and families.