Supermarkets can be terrible distractions if you’re aiming to start eating healthy. Rows of potato chip packets, waiting to be torn open and devoured. Creamy instant sauces and sugar laden jams. Tubs of ice cream in every possible flavour and soft drinks of every hue and flavour! It takes a steel heart (and a mind committed to healthy eating!) to steer clear of these vices and opt for healthy options that are just as packed with taste. So the next time you’re out shopping, refer to this list of healthy foods you should definitely be stocking up on:
Fresh fruits and veggies
Nothing, and we mean nothing, beats fresh produce! Packed with vitamins and minerals, fruits and vegetables are free of nasty preservatives, sodium and sugar that so many packaged foods are full of. Opt for seasonal produce – think mangoes in summer, strawberries in winter and you’ve got yourself a shopping cart full of colour, texture and flavour for eating healthy. When picking veggies too, go easy on the potatoes and opt for more fibre rich stuff like spinach, cabbage, sprouts and carrots.
Skip the fatty bacon and deli meats and choose fresh fish, chicken or turkey. If you’re vegetarian, opt for paneer or tofu. And don’t go home and deep fry or make a creamy gravy out of this list! Retain the goodness of the protein, by grilling or baking it with minimal oil or doing a simple stir fry with veggies of your choice. You can even pre cook and freeze the meat and defrost it in small batches to add to a leafy, green salad.
Healthy eating doesn’t mean you cut out fat completely. More than the amount of fat, it’s the type of fat in your diet that really matters. “Bad fats” or trans fats are the kind found in chips, namkeens and biscuits while good fats such as Omega 3 can be a huge health booster.
Good fat options are everywhere – from basic nuts like almonds, pistachios, walnuts and cashews to fatty fish like salmon and mackerel. Try to fit in fruits like avocado and olives which are packed with nutrition to get fat into your regular diet.
Whole grains and legumes
Indian diets have always consisted of the three main staples of rice, dal and roti. Traditionally, many households used different kinds of grains and millets which are now making a comeback like never before. High fibre grains like jowar, bajra and ragi help in weight management and in keeping your heart healthy. Even plain white rice now has an easily available brown cousin, which is packed with flavour and is a far more nutritious option than polished rice. Indian foods aside, you can also opt for whole wheat pastas or oats, couscous and quinoa if you’re keen to experiment with other cuisines.
Kiss goodbye to refined sugar! It’s one thing you certainly should learn to live without. Before you begin fretting about how life has suddenly taken a bitter turn, take heart from the fact that there are plenty of alternatives that are far healthier. Jaggery and honey are good sweetening options as they’re packed with minerals and antioxidants and also help in digestion. Other natural sweeteners include stevia, extracted from the leaves of a plant called Stevia Rebaudiana, which can help lower blood pressure and sugar levels.
The Ultimate Healthy Eating Grocery List
Now that you know which foods to avoid and which ones to stock up on, here’s a definitive shopping guide to help you out. You can take a print out and put it up on your fridge to make sure you don’t forget. Or just carry it with you to the supermarket to make sure you stay away from temptation!
Ultimately healthy eating boils down to healthy shopping and healthy cooking. It’s not enough to pick healthy ingredients if you’re going to douse them in oil and blast all the goodness out of them. With a little bit of creativity (and plenty of help from the internet!) arm yourself with recipes that are easy to replicate and packed with health and flavour.
If you’d like more tips and advice on how to eat healthy, why not consult a dietician who can help contribute to a fitter, leaner and happier you?