Five Proven Health Tips for Success
Having studied over 100 different dietary theories I understand that no one way of eating suits everybody.
However, I also know from my experience of working with so many different families and individuals of all different
ages and places that there are some well researched and convincing habits, that when applied can yield some really
rather remarkable results. I am here to offer you five of them!
1. Choose Quality over Quantity
Many ways of eating that you may have been drawn to (especially as an adult, and typically if you are trying to lose weight) will focus all too often on the portion size of your meals and amount of calories (otherwise known as energy). While this might be advantageous for people with a serious weight or health issue, by far a better way of looking at food is understanding what that food contains and what it will or won't provide the body. A banana for example has roughly the same amount of calories as a small processed chocolate bar, but as you might imagine is a healthier choice. A raw banana, contains a variety of vitamins and minerals that the body looks for and needs. If we choose processed foods that are often high in both sugar and salt as well as a host of other preservatives, the amount of nutrients we receive across a day, and even a week, could be low. A lack of nutrients can cause symptoms such as tiredness, irritability, hunger and over-eating. When we consume foods with a high nutrient content (foods from nature, unprocessed and whole) we feel satisfied quicker, are kept full for longer, meaning that overall we are able to work, rest, sleep and play more, which ultimately leads us down a path for greater health success. For children this concept is particularly key. By understanding what foods promote wellness and how this affects all areas of growth and development, the child (and this can happen from a very young age) starts to make healthy choices on his or her own (it truly is a wonderful thing :-)
2. Drink more Water
This is going to seem like an obvious piece of encouragement, but just because we know something doesn't mean we follow through with it. Getting yourself and your family used to drinking more water is vital, adequate levels of water help to prevent symptoms of dehydration (dry mouth or skin, and dark colour or strong smelling pee in the mornings) and can help to prevent tooth decay (water is the best alternative to sugary drinks). Offer young children water as soon as it is appropriate to do so alongside their milk routine. If your child does drink from a sippy cup put only water into it, the action of sucking juice in this way is seriously detrimental to teeth. For families, providing each member with a water bottle of his or her own to leave and carry around the house is sensible. My boys have different colour labels on theirs, take them in and out of the home as they go, and reach for it before asking for anything else. This is a habit that we have instilled within our home and so far it seems to be working :-) If you or your children have fallen into the habit of drinking diluted juices (that contain sugar or sweeteners) start to reduce the amount that you have, and have an end date in mind where you just might do away with it altogether! Homemade fresh juices and smoothies are fabulous with main meals, otherwise at any other time of the day water is best, and won't ruin yours or your child's appetite between meals.
3. Eat Together at the Family Table
You are not required to formally dine or ceremoniously set your table to receive the many benefits that eating together as a family can bring, but try where possible at whatever table you feel most comfortable at. I understand all too well the challenges of everyone's schedules but if you set meal times around the majority of people being there, your efforts will not be wasted, in fact if you simply make eating meals at the table a rule you will I did not grow up regularly eating my meals at a table but having made the choice to bring my own family unit there, convinced that it is by far a more practical approach. The body is in the correct position to digest food, studies prove you are less likely to overeat when you are engaged with your plate and not the television or other modern appliances, children are more focused, generally behave a little better and make less mess (always a bonus ;-) You as the parent have a better handle on serving and helping young or fussy eaters, and my most favourite part, is that we all get a chance to talk and be together. all around something as nourishing to both the body and soul as food.
4. Read Food Labels
Just like you, I don't have the time to trawl through the supermarket painstakingly reading every inch of a products food label but getting to grips with a few simple principles is important, and will, in the long run make shopping far easier and less time consuming. Think about why you are purchasing your regular items, let's take jam as an example, strawberry jam. You might then expect the first ingredient on it's food label to be strawberries, but this might only be the case for a few jars out of the many that are on display. For most of them the first ingredient will be sugar, then fructose (another sugar) , then water, and then maybe strawberries and then a variety of preservatives to give it a longer shelf life. For your health (and because I know you want quality for yourself and your family) ideally, one would be looking for products that are as wholesome as possible, minimally processed, and contain ingredients you can actually read (because most of the chemcials and nasties that some foods contain, you cannot - which is actually your biggest clue ;-)