While we all know the importance of a healthy diet, it is sometimes easy to forget that even the healthiest of foods can be spoiled by poor cooking, the addition of other less healthy accompaniments and even by the way we eat. Here are some tips to ensure you get all the nutrients possible from your healthy diet.
- Cooking – never overcook vegetables. They should be lightly steamed or sautéed to ensure all the nutrients remain in them. Boiling them reduces the nutrients most of which are tipped down the sink along with the water. Juicing vegetables is a good way to ensure a healthy addition to your diet, especially if there are some goodies you don’t actually like. Mixed in with other vegetables you’ll never notice the taste. Eating them raw is also a good way to keep all the nutrients from being spoiled by heat. However, not everyone can eat veggies raw and light cooking does make the nutrients more easily available in some cases.
- Less healthy additions – these can be added by the way you cook, e.g. frying vegetables or meat means they absorb some of the fat. Even frying in olive oil is not as good as steaming. Even though olive oil is a ‘good’ fat, heating changes it to some extent, although not as much as heating other kinds of vegetable oils.
- Other additions include sauces, gravies, butter or margarine, salt and dressings. Most of these contain high levels of fats, sugars and salts that we don’t really need. You may think having lots of salads is healthy, but if you include pasta and potato salad with their dressing of mayonnaise, it is full of fat. Even low fat is still fat you could do without.
- The way we eat – meals should be eaten in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere. If they are gulped down as we text someone or argue with the kids or spouse, the best meals are more likely to cause indigestion. Even eating on the run is bad for you. If you can’t stop and eat properly, it is usually better to wait until you can. That said, if you can’t stop, you still need to eat something. But it is better to take a good look at your life and realise you are far too busy to be healthy if you can’t stop long enough to relax and eat a meal while sitting down.
Stress should never be an accompaniment to your meal, but it often is, especially if you eat with a young family who tend to argue at the table, or kids that don’t like their vegetables. If possible, have your own meals later, when the children are in bed so you can really relax over your meal.