Healthy Eating 101

Simple but effective ways for you and your family to enjoy healthy eating

Here at The Health Code, we’re obsessed with healthy eating. We’ve experimented with keto, paleo, the Mediterranean diet and intermittent fasting, to name a few.

We’re convinced that the key to health and longevity is in the foods we choose to eat.

Exercise, sleep and stress-management come next but above all, eating the right food is the #1 way to promote good health.

We get that some people just want a quick and easy way to understand healthy eating.

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of helpful tips that can make it easier to incorporate healthy foods into your day.

First prize is if you rope the kids in and get them to help!

Benefits of eating healthy food

Eating natural whole foods comes with many benefits:

  • Improved digestion
  • Clearer skin
  • Anti-inflammatory effects
  • Anti-ageing
  • Boosts your immune system
  • Good for gut health
  • Recover quicker from any injuries or illnesses
  • Better focus and concentration
  • Lowered risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer
  • Increased energy and vitality
  • Improved sleep

Tip: don’t undo your health efforts by consuming sugary or processed foods high in additives and preservatives.

Healthy eating basics

Healthy Food
Opt for fresh, whole foods.

Now let’s just make one thing clear. Every person is unique and what’s “healthy” for one person might be “unhealthy” for another.

For example, if you are lactose intolerant, consuming milk will be very unpleasant for you. But someone else might not have the same experience.

Also, some people already have health conditions that require them to consume (or avoid) certain foods.

Diabetics have to be extra careful about their sugar consumption. People with celiac disease have to strictly avoid gluten.

Individuals with thyroid issues also have special requirements when it comes to diet.

So there’s no one-size-fits-all.

This blog aims to give you a rough outline of what is “generally” considered healthy.

If you are pregnant or have any health conditions, requirements or concerns, please consult with your doctor and dietician.

Protein

Protein is considered the “building blocks” of the body. It repairs tissues, is involved in the formation of hormones, skin, bone and muscles.

In terms of satiety, “protein stimulates the production of cholecystokinin (CCK), a hormone that signals satiety, and inhibits the release of a hormone called ghrelin, which sends out the “I’m hungry” message.”

Other healthy sources of protein include:

  • Quinoa
  • Chickpeas
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Greek Yoghurt
  • Biltong/Jerky
  • Edamame
  • Lean Beef (preferably organic and grass-fed)
  • Chicken
  • Pork
  • Tinned Tuna (sustainably sourced)
  • Tofu
  • Whey or Pea Protein powder (we recommend eating REAL food, although we understand that protein shakes on occasion help those who are really pressed for time)

Fantastic Fats

Gone are the days where we opt for fat-free everything. We now know that healthy fats are vital for the creation of hormones, cognitive function and even the absorption of some vitamins (D, E, A and K).

The easiest way to add healthy fats to your school or work lunch is to pack some nuts.

But not all nuts are created equal! Stick with raw, unsalted almonds. Almonds are bursting with vitamin E, fibre, protein and magnesium.

Here are some additional healthy fats to choose from:

  • Avocado
  • Nuts
  • Chia Seeds and other Seeds
  • Extra Virgin, Cold-Pressed Olive Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Whole Eggs
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Full Fat Yoghurt
  • Fatty Fish (salmon/mackerel/sardines)

Caution: Carbs

We’re not saying don’t eat carbs at all, but opt for healthier whole-grain options instead of highly processed (white) versions.

Some people do not tolerate gluten well, so they have to opt for gluten-free options.

Some “healthier” carbs include:

  • Corn on the cob
  • Sweet potato
  • Bananas
  • Butternut and pumpkin
  • Peas
  • Lentils/chickpeas (most legumes)
  • Wholewheat/chickpea or lentil pasta
  • Quinoa (has protein but also is considered a carb)

It’s also tempting to grab a “health” bar to save time in the morning, but these are often loaded with sugar. Check out this blog to see more supposedly healthy foods debunked.

And it goes without saying that you should avoid crisps, crackers, biscuits, cake, sweets, soda and white bread/pasta.

Thirsty?

Our bodies rely on adequate hydration to function. In fact, humans can last longer without food or sleep than water.

So water isn’t really a “healthy food” but it’s essential for life so we’re including in on our list of healthy eating tips.

Ensure that you’re getting enough liquid throughout the day. This includes “watery” foods such as apples, cucumber and watermelon.

If water bores you to death, add some freshly chopped strawberries, a sprig of mint or some orange slices to enhance the taste and brighten up your water bottle.

Keep in mind that if you do intense training during the hot summer months, you might benefit from an electrolyte drink.

Have a small fruit juice or superfood smoothie every now and then as a treat, but for the most part, children and adults alike should stick with plain water.

FREE smoothie recipe guide

Need something Sweet?

Instead of opting for sweets, pack a whole fruit for a treat. If you don’t have time to pre-slice messy mango or pineapple, stick with the humble apple or banana which can be eaten on the go.

Fruit contains numerous micronutrients, such as Vitamin C which boosts the immune system.

We caution against eating too much fruit because even though it’s healthier than sweets, it still contains lots of sugar.

One or two fruits per day plus loads of veggies (see below) should make up your Five a Day.

Virtuous veggies

When it comes to healthy eating, vegetables should take pole position.

Upping your vegetable intake has innumerable benefits to your body.

Veggies also fill your stomach and help control your blood sugar levels so you are less likely to be tempted by your colleague’s birthday cupcakes at work.

Some great vegetable options include:

  • Asparagus
  • Beetroot
  • Bok choy, pak choy or Chinese chard
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Capsicum (sweet peppers)
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant (aubergine/brinjal)
  • Eggplant dip
  • Green beans
  • Lettuce
  • Mushroom (technically fungi)
  • Microgreens
  • Onion
  • Peas
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Tomato
  • Turnip
  • Zucchini (courgette/baby marrow)

For your children, let them see that vegetables are not restricted to suppertime, but can be munched on throughout the day.

Meal prep magic

healthy lunch ideas
Meal prep can help you keep your meals healthy and save you time.

If you are serious about adding healthy food into your diet, it’s going to take some upfront planning. It begins with writing a shopping list of all the healthy items you need and then buying the freshest ingredients you can find.

You might need to put aside a few hours on a Sunday afternoon to slice, dice, boil and grill your various food options.

Trust us, it’s worth it.

Stay clear of processed foods, and read the food labels. It’s insane how many processed items are labelled as “healthy” or “zero fat” or “low calorie” yet are packed with additives, preservatives and colourants.

When it comes to adding healthier options to your family’s meals, there’s no need to do it overnight. You might receive serious resistance.

Gradually add healthy snacks into the mix, and up the vegetable portion of all meals. Slowly remove unhealthy items and replace them with their healthier alternatives.

Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest can be a great resource if you’re looking for healthy snack ideas or recipes.

Your health and that of your loved ones will thank you in the long run.

Closing thoughts

We are all busy, but there’s always time to prioritise health.

As tempting as it is to buy quick meals from fast-food outlets, we must be mindful of the effect of these foods over the long-term. 

It’s also easy to throw a bunch of pre-packaged, highly processed items into your shopping cart, but this is doing your health a major disservice.

Try to prioritise healthy eating more days than not.

Stick with natural whole foods for the best possible boost to your health and wellbeing.

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  3. Matcha tea: superfood extraordinaire.

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