Go on a plant-based diet
This diet is easily confused with vegan or vegetarian diets, but they are not entirely the same. While vegan and vegetarian diets eliminate animal meat and products completely, the plant-based diet consists of mostly plants, but animal products aren’t off limits.
The plant-based diet limits animal products, comprising mostly of plants such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seeds, nuts and legumes. It excludes refined foods such as white flour, added sugars, and processed oils, and focuses on food quality.
The plant-based diet can offer a host of health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease and certain cancers, preventing cognitive decline and diabetes.
Aside from adding a large salad to any meal, you can also make starchy grains your staple, snack on nuts and seeds, and drink unsweetened plant-based nut milks.
Start by having at least one plant-based meal a day, and soon it will be part of your lifestyle.
Avoid processed foods
Processed foods are generally low in nutrients and high in fat, sugar and calorie content. For instance, white bread, unlike wholewheat bread, has had its bran and germ stripped away.
Given that our bodies digest unprocessed and processed foods differently, these foods can have vastly different effects on us. Refined carbs and sugar can cause drastic fluctuations in our blood sugar levels, destabilising our body’s insulin production and putting us at risk of type 2 diabetes.
However, clean processed foods do exist. Cheese, plain yogurt and whole-wheat pasta are some examples.
Look out for anything loaded with lots of sugar, refined grains and partially hydrogenated oils, and come with a long ingredient lists with chemicals and foods you don’t recognise.
And while you can find clean versions of salad dressings, sauces, dips and soup broths at the supermarket, you can also make them at home. Hummus, pasta sauce, and olive oil aren’t very complicated.
Watch your added sugar intake
Most of us consume more sugar than we realise, easily exceeding our daily recommended amount of six teaspoons per day for women and nine for men.
Cleaning up your diet means cutting down on these added sugars found in sweets such as candy, baked goods and soda.
However, on top of obvious sugar traps like those mentioned, added sugar can exist in foods that appear to be healthy. Flavoured yogurt, cereals and energy bars can contain loads of sugar. Look for foods preferably without sugar listed as an ingredient, or listed way towards the bottom (it means less of it is used).
Fruits and dairy may contain sugar too, but they also offer a huge amount of nutrients, antioxidants and fibre, which can help to ameliorate the effects of sugar on insulin levels, so it’s not just empty calories.