Simple ways to eat more healthily
Regardless of how active you are, what you eat can make a huge difference to your life – and your running. If you’re just starting out, then a few tweaks to your diet can easily deliver more energy to power your running.
1. Remember variety is the spice of life
Fill your diet with a wide range of fruits, vegetables, pulses, nuts, seeds and wholegrains, as well as lean meats, fish, eggs and naturally low-fat dairy foods if you eat them. Different coloured fruit and veg provide the body with different nutrients to stay strong and healthy. Red peppers, for example, contain more vitamin C than oranges.
2. Read the labels
Food labels may seem boring but if you pay attention to them you’ll find healthy eating so much easier. Most packaging now includes red, amber and green traffic-light coding, which should make it easy to see if a product contains high amounts of fat, saturated fat, sugar or salt. Stick to greens and a few ambers if possible. Also, pay attention to exactly what the label refers to – sometimes it may be the entire pack of food, at other times just a certain portion size.
3. Aim for three meals a day
Three balanced meals a day, with healthy snacks in between if necessary, are ideal. Breakfast is important so avoid skipping it, or you will probably end up more hungry later.
4. Don’t rely on supplements
Instead of splashing out on vitamin pills, try to ensure you get all the nutrients you need from the food you eat. Certain supplements might give you the recommended daily amount of a particular vitamin or mineral, but a healthy diet should also contain protein, fibre etc in the form of calories, which no supplement provides.[subhead] 5. Choose the right type of fats
The British Heart Foundation warns against eating too much saturated fat, which is found in butter, meat and in many cheeses. Trans fats – found in foods such as biscuits, cakes and pastries – are also bad for you in excess. Unsaturated fats, such as olive oil, almonds, avocado, walnuts and oily fish, are a healthier choice.
6. Drink water
Water is an essential part of your diet. Drink plenty of it and avoid empty calories from things such as fizzy drinks, energy drinks or juices with added sugar.
7. Always have a plan
If you haven’t planned what you’re going to eat in advance, it’s easy to give in to a takeaway or a quick fix at the last minute instead of shopping for fresh ingredients. Set aside some time at the weekend to plan food for the week ahead to prevent this.
8. Watch your salt intake
Too much salt is associated with an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, which in turn puts you at a greater risk of developing heart disease. The British Nutrition Foundation advises that adults should eat no more than six grams of salt a day. Check food labels for salt content and remember that a high salt content is over 1.5g per 100g, and a low salt content is 0.3g per 100g. Good alternatives to adding salt to your cooking are herbs, spices, lemon, mustard or vinegar.
9. Make the most of your freezer
Studies have shown that, as well as being convenient, frozen vegetables often contain higher levels of vitamin C than fresh vegetables.
10. Tuck into some alternatives
There’s so much choice in supermarkets these days, it can feel easier to stick with the familiar, which isn’t always the healthiest option. Next time you go shopping, try something you haven’t had before – whether it’s chia seeds or kale, you may well find a new favourite food!