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Seven Ways to Optimise Healthy Eating

You Can Use This Checklist to Discover the Seven Most Significant Changes That Can be Made to Optimise Your Healthy Eating.

Plus, five top tips to make it easy!

You know that healthy eating is vital for fuelling your body, reducing disease risk, increasing longevity, and fostering mental and physical well-being.

But with so many conflicting opinions and advice around us, it can be hard to know where to start — or what needs changing.

If there is one thing that we can all agree on, it's this: Healthy eating doesn't involve any specific diet. It's about prioritizing your health with nutrient-rich foods. When you're hungry, the goal should be to eat filling, nutritious meals and snacks, not as few calories as possible.

This checklist will show you the seven most significant changes to optimize your healthy eating efforts. None of them take much time, but each of them can make a dramatic difference to your health.


7 Ways to Optimize Healthy Eating

1. Diversify your diet by cooking most of your meals at home. Learn two or three essential recipes and meal-prep your lunch.

2. Create whole food protein and fibre-rich meals and snacks to satisfy your hunger.

3. Prioritize food shopping to stock your kitchen with healthy staples — like dried and canned goods — and fresh foods. A nutritious well-stocked cupboard, fridge, and freezer will make healthy meals easy. Shop once or twice per week to top up on fresh ingredients.

4. Make plant foods the base of your diet with every meal and snack, like vegetables, fruit, beans, and nuts.

5. Drink plenty of water. If you're not used to drinking water, challenge yourself to consume 250ml of water on the hour for eight hours.

6. Eliminate ultra-processed foods and preserved meat as much as possible.

7. Avoid drinking your calories; consuming sugary drinks regularly, like fizzy pop, energy drinks, and sweetened coffees as these can be detrimental to your health.


5 Top Tips to Make Optimising Healthy Eating Easier

1. Choose recipes that take very little time to make if you're new to cooking, which helps you develop your culinary skills. Collect recipes that are 10, 15, and 30-minutes.

2. Save money by sourcing your plant produce — vegetables and fruit — from fresh and frozen. Don't feel you need to buy everything organic.

3. If you hate food shopping, minimize the physical effort with online ordering, reducing impulse buying.

4. Reduce the mental effort of eating breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks by learning and planning a handful of recipes to eat consistently for the month. Some people eat the same meals daily but change the ingredients to match the seasons.

5. To minimize ultra-processed snacks and sugary drinks, evaluate your daily routine. For example, suppose you go to the petrol station in the morning and grab a sugary, caffeinated energy drink with your order. Instead, try filling up with fuel in the evening when you're less likely to want the sugary energy boost.

There is a wide variety of foods to choose from; avoid the trap of trying to eat meals you dislike. Work through the checklist and bonus tips to try different foods and recipes that you enjoy.


Reference & Further Reading

Zheng L, Sun J, Yu X, Zhang D. Ultra-Processed Food Is Positively Associated With Depressive Symptoms Among United States Adults. Front Nutr. 2020;7:600449. Published 2020 Dec 15. doi:10.3389/fnut.2020.600449

Elizabeth L, Machado P, Zinöcker M, Baker P, Lawrence M. Ultra-Processed Foods and Health Outcomes: A Narrative Review. Nutrients. 2020;12(7):1955. Published 2020 Jun 30. doi:10.3390/nu12071955

Rauber F, Steele EM, Louzada MLDC, Millett C, Monteiro CA, Levy RB. Ultra-processed food consumption and indicators of obesity in the United Kingdom population (2008-2016). PLoS One. 2020;15(5):e0232676. Published 2020 May 1. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0232676

Kim H, Hu EA, Rebholz CM. Ultra-processed food intake and mortality in the USA: results from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III, 1988-1994). Public Health Nutr. 2019;22(10):1777-1785. doi:10.1017/S1368980018003890

Pacheco LS, Lacey JV Jr, Martinez ME, Lemus H, Araneta MRG, Sears DD, Talavera GA, Anderson CAM. Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Intake and Cardiovascular Disease Risk in the California Teachers Study. J Am Heart Assoc. 2020 May 18;9(10):e014883. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.119.014883. Epub 2020 May 13. PMID: 32397792; PMCID: PMC7660873.

Li H, Liang H, Yang H, Zhang X, Ding X, Zhang R, Mao Y, Liu Z, Kan Q, Sun T. Association between intake of sweetened beverages with all-cause and cause-specific mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Public Health (Oxf). 2021 Apr 9:fdab069. doi: 10.1093/pubmed/fdab069. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33837431.

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