Thursday, 2 January 2014

New Years Resolutions: Healthy Eating and Drinking

This is the second post of ten that I am doing to cover the most common New Year Resolutions, this post will talk about how to eat healthily and reduce your alcohol intake whilst on a budget. There are many small changes that can make a massive difference to your diet and make it more healthy so this post should help you to initiate those changes even if you think you can't afford to.

What do you currently eat?
To help change your diet it is a good idea to really look at what you currently eat on a day to day basis. It might help to write down everything you eat or, better still, take a photo of everything you eat so you can get an idea of portion size too. Once you have done this for a few days you should review your record and decide which foods and drinks you think were unhealthy and which were healthy.

Delicious, but extremely unhealthy!
What should you be aiming for?
According to the NHS adults should be aiming to eat no more than 2000 calories a day and our diet should consist of 5 fruits or vegetables a day, healthy fibrous starch should make up around a third of what we eat and we should be having lean protein from pulses and fish, not just meat. We should not be eating any additional sugar, drink no more than 3 units of alcohol per day 4 times a week and should avoid eating large quantities of fat. It sounds like there are a lot of rules to follow but with a little bit of planning it is extremely easy to eat a healthy, balanced diet.
My only issue with the NHS's guidelines is that starchy food has been linked to weight gain as most starchy foods are carbohydrates which are metabolised into sugar in the body. If the sugar floating around in your blood stream is not used immediately then it is converted into fat so it can be used much later when sugar is scarce. You do need to have carbohydrates in your diet otherwise you'd not function well but you need to chose ones which have other nutritional properties like fibre and vitamins.

Tips for improving your diet
  • Plan your meals ahead of time. This will help you save money and stop you eating fast food because nothing else is available.
  • If you are trying to lose weight you need to reduce your portion size, try only putting half the amount of food on your plate. You can always go back for more if you don't feel satisfied. Doing this will break habitual clearing of your plate.
  • Find out what 100 calories looks like.
  • Freeze the food that you don't eat, that way you won't be tempted to pick at it later.
  • In fact, just use your freezer more. Prepare food in bulk and freeze it, that way there is always something quick to microwave if you need food fast.
Credit to
  • It might help if you eat smaller but more regular meals throughout the day as this will help regulate blood sugar, make you feel less hungry and help you make better food choices.
  • Eat more homemade soup. Soup helps to fill you up and it is great for sneaking in vegetables you aren't really keen on. I love making simple Broccoli and Stilton soup.
  • Change your supermarket - this won't be easy for everyone but fruit and vegetables are cheaper at the market and at Aldi and Lidl. If you have the time it is well worth going to save money.
  • Change one meat meal a week to fish and another completely vegetarian. Coley is my favourite fish at the moment because you can get 6 decent sized portions from Tesco for £2.50. Each portion is only 75 calories and take just 3 minutes to cook in the microwave! Tinned fish is also a winner.
Winner, winner, fishy dinner!
  • Approved Food is a discount food retailer and often has staple foods like pulses, quinoa and wholegrain pasta for next to nothing. Just avoid all of their tempting junk food!
  • Use the Change4Life Smart Swaps system to help find alternatives to unhealthy food.
  • Bulk up protein and carbs with vegetables. Substituting half your mashed potato with carrot is simple and you won't even notice it.
  • Water is your best friend, you need to have water with you at all times as it will fill you up and ensure that you are actually hungry rather than dehydrated. Drink a glass before you eat.
  • If you can't give up fizzy drinks have carbonated water (just 22p a bottle from Tesco) with some squash or real fruit juice. You could also try iced teas. It really does taste just as good but it is a damn sight less harmful to you. 
  • Alcohol can be substituted for virgin cocktails! Between each alcoholic drink have one non-alcoholic drink. If you are a beer drinker, have a shandy made with soda water and diet lemonade. 

Healthy recipes
Regardless of everything else I have said here there are two important points. Don't feel bad if you eat something which isn't healthy. Don't write off an entire day because you eat something 'bad', you can still recover by making everything else you eat healthy. You need to find a diet you can stick to so make sure it is sustainable, if you feel like you are missing out on something then you need to find a way to integrate it into your diet whether it is eating it in moderation a couple of times a month or find a way to make it healthy.

Let me know your suggestions for cheap but healthy recipes in the comments below or on twitter or facebook. To see all posts in this series click here

1 comment:

  1. Big up approved foods! I need to check them out actually! recently I've been mixing fruit juice with sparkling water to ween me off fizzy drinks that I craved in pregnancy - it's working!


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