Food guru Tim Spector’s top ten tips for a healthier dietSimple things we can do to make better food choices
There’s no single diet that will work for everyone; we each have our own unique biology and react to food differently. But as seen in The Nature of Things: Food For Thought, there are some simple choices we can make to eat better.
ALL ABOUT EVOO
Use lots of high-quality extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) when you’re cooking. This staple in the Mediterranean diet is loaded with polyphenols — natural chemicals with antioxidant powers that act as fuel for our gut microbes.
BACK TO THE KITCHEN
The best way to make sure you’re eating healthy food is to make it yourself. One of the reasons obesity has skyrocketed is because we’ve swapped home cooking for takeout. So even if you’re a culinary novice like me, buy some fresh ingredients and start experimenting with easy recipes.
FERMENT ME NOT
Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut contain live bacteria that are good for you. I make smoothies with kefir, fruit and a green veggie like spinach or kale.
FILL UP ON FIBRE
Fibre fills you up, so you’ll be less hungry later. Fibre-rich foods include legumes (beans, lentils, peas), many green veggies (spinach, artichokes, leeks), fruits (apples and berries) and unrefined whole grains. Insoluble fibre is the part of food that we can’t digest, so our body absorbs fewer calories. For a fibre-filled breakfast, try steel-cut oatmeal. Add some berries to your porridge for flavour and antioxidants.
You don’t have to deprive yourself of snacks — just eat healthy ones. Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc.) are a great mid-morning snack that can keep you going until lunchtime.
IN THE DARK
If you love chocolate like I do, allow yourself an occasional piece of unsweetened dark chocolate (70 per cent cocoa and up). You’ll get used to less sugar and still satisfy that sweet craving.
MAKE IT A COMBO
You can improve the effects of foods by adding something else to your plate. Rice and beans are better than just rice because the fibre in the beans counteracts the starch in the rice.
We all do it: eating on the go, munching on snacks in the car or at our desk because we’re so busy. Try sitting down at a table, and you’ll find you eat less processed junk food and more healthy meals. What’s more, studies suggest that if you chew more slowly, you may have better control over your appetite.
SPICE IT UP
Some spices not only add flavour to cooking, but they pack a healthy punch, as well. Turmeric, garlic and saffron are some of my favourites. Chilies are powerful antioxidants, too.
Popeye may get his strength solely from spinach, but we need variety in our diet to get the full benefits. So try adding new foods to familiar dishes. I’ll put Jerusalem artichokes in my stir-fry or sliced leeks in my salad.
Watch Food for Thought on The Nature of Things.