The other day I read an article in a women’s magazine about how to have ‘vitality’ for spring. It offered tips from a couple of women who apparently had this quality in abundance. Great, I thought. Maybe I’ll get some tips.
I stopped reading, however, when I saw that the first example given was a woman of 24. Without insulting all the 20-somethings out there, those of us who are a bit older know that honestly, all you need to do for ‘vitality’ at 24 is open your eyes and get out of bed. Youth is a wonderful thing (and here’s where I start to sound completely ancient) that we don’t appreciate until it’s gone. Nowhere is this more true than in the area of food and its effect on our overall health.
When you’re 22, you can survive on takeaways and 2-minute noodles and still bound out of bed lithe and glowing.But if you’re 32 or 42 or 52 and eating mostly brown and white food, chances are you’ll be feeling sluggish; you’ll wake up tired; you’ll need caffeine and sweet things to keep you going through the day; and your digestion could well be pretty average. On top of that, you’re probably not going to be looking well. And the sad news is, it only gets worse as we age.
The good news is, whatever age we are, we can make a difference to how we feel directly and relatively quickly by changing what and how we eat. Assuming we are not suffering from an illness that needs medical treatment, eating good quality, nutrient-dense food every day is the biggest – and possibly simplest – thing we can do to change the way we feel. What we put in directly affects what we get out, and it affects how good we feel and how our bodies function in many, many ways, from how our skin looks to how well we sleep to how our digestion functions.
If you’ve been feeling a bit sluggish lately, why not use spring as the perfect time to reset your eating. You don’t have to go on a cleanse or a drastic detox (in fact, please don’t). Here are six steps to feeling better that you can do this week – no faddish diets required.
- Get yourself along to the fruit and vege store or market where the produce is abundant and inexpensive, and start your weekly food shop there. Spend most of your food budget on veges.
- Try and reframe the way you think of your meals to be vegetable-focussed. I’m not suggesting giving up meat – it’s nutritious and delicious – but reduce your meat portions to the size and thickness of the palm of your hand (the palm, not the whole hand).
- Add a couple of fish meals to your week (ideally not fish and chips!). Don’t forget about frozen and canned fish, which are economical options.
- Consider some plant-based protein like tofu. If you’ve never cooked with it, don’t be scared. Tofu has a unique texture and really absorbs the flavours you put with it – it doesn’t have to be bland and dull.
- Add healthy whole grains. Try and experiment with some new ones like quinoa and spelt. Choose wholegrain varieties of pasta, couscous and rice to boost your fibre and vitamin intake.
- Rethink your snacks – try and get some protein into each one. Choose things like dairy and nuts and fruit, rather than biscuits and overly sweet snack bars.
Do these simple things and there will be no room in your day for poor quality food. The good stuff will be crowding out the bad. And I promise you will feel the effects.
Bonus challenge for experts: If you think your diet is already pretty good, then my challenge to you is to add more veges. If you like, try a green smoothie (find my favourite here). Or simply make it a goal to add one more serving of something green to every meal.