Healthy eating is science, but not rocket science.
Here are 12 science backed simple rules that can help you create healthy eating habits.
- Try to have a regular, healthy and predictable daily schedule: eat at the same hour every day, sleep for at least 8 hours, and don’t drink alcohol excessively.
- Eat at least 3 meals/ day (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and up to 5 meals/ day (2 additional snacks) if you feel hungry between meals, at the same time each day.
- Eat a combination of proteins (meet, cheese, eggs, fish, tofu) and vegetables (see the list in the next section) with every meal. Proteins give satiety and vegetables bring fibers and vitamins.
- Limit fruit intake: despite mainstream recommendation, if consumed excessively they make us fat. A reasonable quantity is 100-300g, depending on the fruit type, but not more.
- Limit the intake of so called low glycemic index foods, or complex carbohydrates (bread, corn, pasta, rice, potato, beans and legumes, muesli and whole grains) –consumed excessively, they are not as healthy or as essential as once considered. They make us gain weight; they raise the blood sugar and increase the appetite. Their daily intake shouldn’t be more than 200g or even less for muesli or whole grains cereals.
- Avoid completely the high glycemic index or simple carbohydrates containing foods: sugar, milk chocolate, candy, sweet and salty pastry products, sugary juices, fresh juices, smoothies. Please be also aware that the not all “diet” products are really diet products, so be cautious with them as well.
- You should eat without any guilt high quality fats like organic olive oil, avocado oil and fish oil. Even a reasonable quantity of butter or Greek yogurt has more benefits than their low fat equivalents. I know that goes against the common “low fat” wisdom, but trust me (and the science behind me):fats are essential for survival and well-being.
- During the weight loss phase, nuts and seeds should be consumed in small quantities (not more than 25g/day) because, even though they can bring valuable high quality fats, they do have a high caloric value of over 700Kcal/100g. Walnuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts and macadamia nuts are the best choices.
- Read food nutritional value labels when available. Any food with over 50% carbohydrates should not enter your shopping basket. Furthermore, avoid processed and refined foods altogether: if you can’t read it you shouldn’t eat it, as someone wisely said.
- Wine and beer should be avoided: besides alcohol calories they usually contain sugar ( beer has up to 7% sugar); Exception: 1 glass of dry red wine every now and then.
- When eating out: go with the safe choice: meat/fish and salad with lemon and olive oil dressings.
- On vacations, try to avoid all-inclusive plans: seeing a large choice of food and seeing other people eating a lot will make you overindulge; go for the breakfast included plan instead and support the locals (and you waist line).