Healthy Eating Alternatives


A couple of weeks ago I posted my first post about starting the gym here on hiyaitsashley, which you can read here. A big part of this new goal was also starting a new diet of healthy eating. For today's post I wanted to share with you some healthy alternatives you can include with meals and snacks which can help with sticking to a new diet.

In my last post I mentioned a bit about my new diet, so I wanted to make a post dedicated to highlighting some of the healthy options that are out there, becasue changing what I'm eating has been a huge help with this new diet and exercise plan.

Breakfast

Breakfast has been one of the biggest changes for me. Until this year I basically never ate breakfast, maybe once or twice a week. Breakfast starts you up for the day, it can boost your metabolism for the rest of the day, and gives you more energy throughout the day. Between getting up super early for university and sleeping in on days off, I often missed breakfast, but lately I've been making an effort to get up early and have breakfast most days.

If you find yourself skipping breakfast, a quick meal of toast and tea/coffee or water can make the world of difference. It's a healthy alternative to nothing, and if you do have something, it can be a healthy alternative to having sugary cereals or fatty foods like bacon or sausage. If you have a little more time, healthy cereals are a good option. Wheetabix is a great one, as its 100% wholegrain, high in fibre and low in sugar, salt and fat and is only 136kcal per two biscuit serving. My favourite way to eat it is by crushing it into almost powder, and eating it with milk and banana. If you want something a little sweeter, Rice Krispies Multi-Grain Shapes are amazing. They are sweetened rice, wholegrain oat & maize cereal shapes, but they are only 114kcal per 30g serving,

A an alternative to having toast if you're cutting it fine for time, a great, healthy breakfast is a breakfast bar or a piece of fruit. These are easy to grab and go, and you can eat them on the train or when you get to class or work.

When I don't have time for a proper breakfast, (or even toast), mg favoutite cereal bars to have are Nature Valley Crunchy Oats and Honey (192kcal) and Nature Valley Crunchy Oats and Hazelnut (197kcal), They are lovely and crumbly, and have just the right balance of sweet and crunchy. Another favourite of mine are the Belvita Crunchy Hazelnuts (210kal), which are wholegrain and packed with vitamins.

Lunch

For Lunch there are a few small changes you can make to you meal to be a little bit healthier, and save on some calories. For me, like a lot of people I usually get a meal deal on uni days from a local Tesco or Sainsbury's. If you're getting a prepackaged sandwich, salad or pasta from somewhere for lunch it's important to remember that the majority of supermarkets have a low calorie or healthy eating range that are included in your meal deal. Lately I've been making sure to pick up one of these ranges as they half around half the calories as a regular sandwich and are often better for you, as they usually come on brown bread and have for example light mayonnaise! It's also good to remember that on these meal deals, your snack can be a fruit or veggie pack, or a delicious yoghurt, which is a healthier alternative to crisps or a chocolate bar.

Freshly prepared salads are also a great option, in Morrisons you can prepare your own custom salad as part of the meal deal, and these salad bars have a large variety of options. Subways sandwiches are also a great idea as they are low in calories and made fresh to order.

You could also make you lunch at home and take it with you, this gives you complete control over what you have and how healthy it is. It also means you save money, and can take snacks of your own to eat. If you're having lunch at home, this also applies. A good option for lunch at home is also soups, as these are filling, delicious and low in calories.

Dinner

Dinner is your largest meal of the day, so as long as you're eating a good meal, and it is nutritional, then the calorie count isn't as important as your smaller meals and snacks. However, there are steps that you can take to help make you meal as healthy and low calorie as you can.

The best way to do this is to have home cooked meals as far as possible, instead of having microwave meals or takeawyas. As an example, if I want a Chinese chow mein, instead of ordering a takeout (for the most part, now and then is okay!) I'll have a homemade one, and it's just as delicious, and low in calories!

Homemade pastas and salads are another great way to have a filling but healthy meal in the evening. Pasta and noodles are high in carbohydrates and are very filling, so you won't be as likely to snack as much in the evening. You can also make a meal like this last you a few portions, as you could have it for dinner and have the leftovers for lunch the following day. You can also have a lot of variety. You can make them hot or cold, spicy or mild, with different meats or vegetables. There are so many options.

Snacks & Drinks

Snacking can be the downfall of any diet. We all love a packet of crisps and some chocolate, or a some fizzy juice, but swapping out your usual high calorie snacks for some healthier alternatives is a good way to keep on top of your diet. One of the most common reasons people end up going back to their old snacking ways, is that they feel their is a lack of tasty options that are healthy. Well, that simply isn't the case!

One small change to make is to swap out your regular high calorie crisps (Walkers etc) for more healthy options, that are just as tasty, but lower in calories. Walkers regular crisps are very high in calories, (169kcal per bag), and are high in fat in salt. However, Walkers make many other options that are better for you. Walkers Oven Baked (109kcal a bag) are a great option, as these are delicious, very flavourful and crunch, but are oven baked instead of fried. They also make some other great options, such as French Fries (97kcal), Quavers (85kcal), Wotsists (96kcal) which are great, tasty, low calorie options. There's also Hula Hoops Pufts (72kcal) from KP which are another good option. If you want to skip the crisps altogether, then crackers and rice crackers are a great option. Snack A Jacks for example are popped rice snack and only have 106kcals a bag.

In terms of chocolate and biscuits, this can be where the biggest portions of you calorie count gets wasted. A good way to combat this is to buy smaller sized chocolates, that you can eat in small portions. A good one for this are the small Kinder bars (70kcal), they curb that chocolate craving and are low in calories. You can also buy small, chocolate snacks such as Go Ahead! Pretzel Bites (94kcals), which are small bags of mini, chocolate coated pretzels. Lots of brands make low calorie snack bars which often have varieties of fruits and sometimes chocolate or nuts. Go Ahead Crispy Slices are my favorites, at only 55kcals a slice, with 3 slices in each individual pack.

The last food tip I have for this section is yoghurts. They are great for curbing a snack craving, low in calories and gave huge varieties of flavours. My two favourites are Muller Lights which come in 6 packs at only 99kcals a pot, and there are berry packs, as well as orange/exotic fruits and chocolate, and Muller Corner Bliss (129kcal).

One of the biggest helps in your diet will be cutting out fizzy drinks, and if you do have any, try and have only diet or sugarfee. This will really help cut the calories and the sugar intake, and can be replaced easily with  plain water, flavoured water or squash (fun fact: in Scotland its called diluting juice, because you dilute it with water!)


Top Tips

  • Get an app on your phone that helps you track your meals and exercises. I use MyFitnessPal, as you can scan the bar code of almost any food and it tells you the calories and nutritional facts, and lets you portion it.
  • Remember, you are allowed to have treats sometimes, so don't feel bad if you indulge in a bar of chocolate or a takeaway now and then, it's all about moderation.
  • Have a cheat day once a week! Don't go crazy and eat 4,000 calories just because it's cheat day, but treat yourself to a meal out and a nice dessert. Have some of your favourite indulgent snacks, or have a nice cake from your favourite bakery.
  • Try not to get too disheartened if you go over your calorie limit for the day, because that;s when calorie counting can get unhealthy. Instead, try to learn from that and make small amendments for then next time.
  • Always check the nutritional facts on food labels carefully. Sometimes brands will display low calorie counts but those calories only apply to special portion of the meal (1/4, 1/2 of a pack etc). So make sure you check properly for portion you'll be eating. Also, check the salt, fat, sugar etc. Work out what you need more or less of in your own diet, as everyone is different.
  • Always make sure your diet is part of a balanced eating and exercise plan. Dieting won't do you half as much good on its own as it will as part of healthy plan of exercise. If you'd like to read about my experience with starting the gym this year, you can read that post here.
What are you're favourite healthy foods? Are their and brands or recipes you recommend?

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