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As the season changes, so are the produce available in the markets. With the spring’s abundance of fresh vegetables, fruits and more, it’s the best time to practise healthier eating habits. A wholesome, balanced diet is the basis for our overall wellness and can help strengthen our immune system against diseases, as well as improve our mood. So cleanse and rejuvenate this spring with these 10 simple steps!
1. Have Less of These
Some foods are good for your body, some are mixed bags, and others are just not so great for your health. Start your diet spring-cleaning by reducing the following.
Alcohol can wear out your liver’s detox function faster in the long run. They also tend to make you pee more as you drink, and thus dehydrates you. While certain drinks like red wine (rich in antioxidants) can be beneficial, it is best enjoyed in moderation. Also, instead of drinking neat or on the rocks, try more refreshing cocktails with fruits; like this lychee special, a Korean Makgeolli with strawberry, or this yuzu sparkler delight. Nonetheless, limiting your alcohol consumption can significantly improve your health.
Processed foods such as soft drinks, cereals, store-bought chips, cookies or biscuits, energy bars, packaged or microwave meals, often contain added sugars, salts and unhealthy fats. When consumed regularly, they can lead to obesity, diabetes and even heart problems. Avoid them altogether if you can, and opt for fresh-cooked food instead.
Refined grains like white rice are removed from their bran and germ, the parts which contain the most fibre, vitamins and minerals. While white rice is considered to be a healthier carb option than wheat and is a staple food in Asian cultures, whole grains like brown rice are more nutritious.
Sugar is one of the most common sweeteners in the world, but also probably the least healthy one; with a whole slew of health risks that come with over-consumption. So moderation is key, and try natural sweeteners such as palm sugar, honey or fruit juices instead!
2. Enjoy More of These
Fruits and Veggies top the list of healthy foods, of course. And for many good reasons: low in calories, high in vitamins, fibre, minerals and antioxidants, etc. Not to mention the sheer variety you can choose from. Vegetables are also must-have ingredients in a kaleidoscope of yummy Asian recipes. So have your fill!
Whole grains, as mentioned, still have their bran and germ intact, which holds all the rich nutrients. They provide you with energy like other carb foods, but can also help you lose weight while filling your tummy. Some whole grains like brown rice are also gluten-free.
Healthy fats are unsaturated fats that can aid nutrient absorption, improve organ functions and lower the risk of diseases. Eggs, nuts, seeds, oil and vegetable oil, dark chocolate, fatty fish, avocado, tofu, and yogurt are great sources of healthy fats that you should totally enjoy more.
Probiotics are live bacteria often found in fermented foods that can help better your digestion and overall gut health, produce vitamins and minerals, and aid your immune system. Yogurt is probably the most widely known source, but miso soup, pickles and kimchi are delicious options too!
3. Clear Your Fridge and Pantry
Got not-so-healthy foods in storage? Finish them and don’t restock them, but replace them with more wholesome options mentioned above. Fresh is best, of course. For instance, fruits are healthier snacks than processed chips.
4. Read the Label Before You Buy
Take the time to read the nutritional information on the food packaging’s label, and opt for products with less saturated fats, salt, and added sugars. We all have our store-bought faves that may contain too much of those, but there are also always healthier alternatives.
5. Control Your Food Portion
We tend to eat more during cold weather as our bodies require extra heat and energy. But now that winter has ended in Australia, it’s better to have less. The simplest trick is to use a smaller plate or bowl. Start by cutting back a quarter of your usual portions, and gradually find the right amount to fill your tummy in each meal.
6. Eat Mindfully
As Nigella Dawson wrote: ‘eating is a huge and elemental pleasure’. So don’t rush, and don’t multitask as you eat. Settle down and fully savour every meal. Chew thoroughly and appreciate the nuanced tastes and textures. Not only does this let you immerse in the joys of eating, but it also does wonders for nutrients absorption and digestion.
7. Drink More Water
Up to 60% of our body is composed of water, and it’s vital to all our organ functions from head to toe that we maintain sufficient water levels. Plain water is the most natural way to refresh, detox, as well as aid in circulating oxygen throughout our body. Too dull? Add a spritz of lime or lemon juice for a light aromatic touch. Tea, especially green tea, is also a good alternative – Asians drink it almost as much as water.
8. Savour More Home-Cooked Meals
Dining out or takeaways are convenient, but you don’t really have control over the calories, nutrients and portions you get. Not to mention the prices. It’s often much cheaper to shop for fresh ingredients and cook at home, with the freedom to curate and create your favourite tastes. Try new recipes, and experiment with herbs and spices for seasonings instead of plain sugar and salt. Not enough time to cook? Check out our yummy collection of dishes you can make in less than 30 minutes!
9. Go Meat-Free
No, you don’t have to go full vegan, but studies do show that reducing meat is beneficial to your health – specifically, lessens your risk of heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and cancer. Even going meat-free once a week can make a huge difference to your health. Worry that you won’t get enough nutrients? Just follow these simple tips. With Asian cuisines, it’s also fun and interesting to try plant-based versions of your favourite dishes!
10. Start a Food Garden
Springtime is perfect to start growing your own fruits, veggies and herbs – the best way to get fresh and natural ingredients to cook! Here are some cheap DIY home-gardening tips. Don’t have the space? Try recycling plastic bottles into self-watering pots!
Remember: Small Steps Go a Long Way
We get it, sweeping changes to your diet and even lifestyle can be tough. But you don’t have to adopt all the above in one go. Start small, and gradually switch to healthier habits at your own pace. With that, let’s embrace the spring with lots of joy and wholesomeness!