We help you get smarter with how and what you eat. If you find it all a bit overwhelming, begin with one tip and when you have that nailed, move on to the next. If you only eat one serving of vegetables a day, try two, then three and so on until your body adjusts. Good luck!
Start with breakfast – every day!
Why? To increase metabolism, energy levels and help avoid snacks between meals.
- Pick something ‘grainy' and add protein, for example porridge or Weetbix with fruit and light blue milk.
- Wholegrain toast and eggs/baked beans/banana, peanut butter.
Eat regular meals – at least three each day
Why? To help manage hunger and extra snacking:
- Include some starchy carbohydrate (bread/rice/potato), protein (meat/fish/egg/beans/dairy) with veges and fruit.
- Plan lunch. It’s cheaper to take your own homemade lunch and avoids making rushed decisions and being tempted by less healthy options.
Smarter snacks – only if you need them
Why? If you’re not hungry between meals, you don’t need snacks. If you do feel peckish, reach for:
- a piece of fruit or small handful of nuts (30g)
- a cup of soup or, low fat milk/yoghurt
- vegetable sticks or grainy crackers with hummus/cottage cheese.
Be mindful – take your time and notice what you eat
Why? Eating fast, on the run and while distracted can lead you to eat more food than you realise, or need:
- It takes 30 minutes for your stomach to tell the brain that it’s full.
- Many of us eat for reasons other than hunger – and recognising this is the first step in making changes.
- Slow down and wait for meals to digest.
- Sit at the table, with friends, whanau.
- Minimise distractions such as phones and TV.
- Enjoy your food.
- Some people find it helpful to write down what and how much they eat and how they feel before and after.
Portion sizes matter
Why? Eating too many healthy foods can still cause weight gain:
- How much we eat is key to keeping a healthy body weight.
- A good rule of thumb is food that will cover your palm is one serving.
- For a healthy evening meal, picture you plate divided into four: one quarter would be meat or a meat alternative, one quarter grains and half would be vegetables.
Think about what you drink
Water is always best
Why? It’s free from the tap, healthy, good for the environment and good for you:
- You need 6 to 8 cups of fluid each day, some of these can be from food, coffee, tea, milk as well as from water.
Think about other drinks
Why? They often add empty calories – and they don’t fill you up as well as food"
- Cordials, fruit juice, sports drinks and fizzy drinks are all loaded with sugar. One 300ml glass or bottle of fizzy drink will have 8 teaspoons of sugar in it!
- Alcohol adds up too – more than you might think.
- One 350ml can or bottle of beer contains 155 calories.
- One 150ml glass of wine contains 124 calories.
Fill up on vegetables and fruit – 5+ a day
Why? For extra fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are also low in energy (calories), are packed with goodness and help prevent heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure, and some cancers:
- You can take your daily selection from fresh, frozen, canned and dried.
- Eat fresh fruit rather than dried fruit and if having canned fruit choose clear juice rather than syrup varieties.
- Half your plate should be veges.
- If you are not good at eating fruit and vegetables, one idea for getting started is to make a pact with yourself – for example reach for the fruit or raw veges rather than the biscuits or sweets.
- Stock the house with the types of fruit and veges you know you’ll eat – that way you don’t end up with a bowl of rotting apples when you really prefer canned peaches.
- Try buying different types of fruit and veges when they’re on special and see if you like them.
- For a hearty, wintry meal make vegetable soup – a great way to up your vege intake, save time and money, and drop some weight!
- If you prefer raw veges to cooked, eat them as a snack or just lightly stir-fry them for dinner.
Have whole grains when you can
Why? They are high in fibre, so keep you feeling fuller for longer, and much better for your gut health:
- Use wholemeal flour instead of white flour.
- Choose grainy breads, crackers and cereals, e.g wheat biscuits, porridge granary and wholemeal breads.
- Add whole grain cereal, like barley and rice, to bulk out soups and casseroles.
- Find out about the Glycaemic Index (GI). Wholegrain foods have a lower GI than the more refined white varieties so are better for you.
Cut back on the fat
Why? Eating less fat helps with weight loss – and the type of fat is important:
- When you cook with fat, use 1 teaspoon per person of liquid oils, eg, canola, soy, peanut, rice bran, olive.
- Avoid animal fats and coconut products.
- Bake grill or steam instead of frying.
- Choose lean meats and replace with fish when you can.
- Make the switch to low fat milk, cheese, yoghurt and ice-cream.
Replace salt with other flavours
Why? To improve blood pressure and decrease risk of heart disease:
- Choose low salt/sodium foods where they are offered.
- Use the taste test – add a little salt to your food and taste it before adding more.
- Find low-salt snacks you enjoy – fruit, unsalted nuts, plain, unsalted popcorn, yoghurt, biscuits and crackers low in sodium.
- Eat more fresh and frozen foods. Salt is frequently added to processed foods – such as sausages, salamis, packet soups and sauces.
- Use fresh herbs and spices to flavour food, eg, fresh herbs, garlic, mustard, coriander, lemon, mint, cumin etc.
- Cook food in minimal water or in the microwave helps flavour food so extra salt is not needed.
- Ask for no added salt when buying take-aways.
- Choose vegetables and fish in canned water without salt.