What does it mean to be healthy? Who determines if someone is healthier than someone else?
As a Nutritionist my interpretation of ‘healthy’ is eating food in its most natural state which often indicates ‘wholefoods’. This means quality protein (animal and plant proteins), lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and quality fats (nuts, seeds, avocados, cold pressed oils etc.). Each nutritionist or naturopath will have a slightly different opinion as to what constitutes being healthy, however we all generally share the same view that food should be consumed in its most natural state where possible.
So what are the pro’s and con’s of eating healthy?
- Eating well now will benefit your overall health in the short and long term, meaning you are less likely to suffer from illnesses and infections and therefore you will have a stronger immune system.
- You will spend less money on pharmaceutical medication as you will be less likely to need it.
- You will have more energy and be able to maintain a healthy weight by choosing to eat real foods.
- Sometimes eating healthy means having to spend more money. While this can be true at times, you don’t always necessarily need to spend too much more money but rather become smarter with buying produce (e.g. buying seasonally, going to local markets etc.). Eating out for dinner is where I personally notice the additional expense incurred.
- Eating healthy does often require a little more time each day for preparation. You may need to allow for an additional 5-10 minutes in the morning to prepare breakfast or lunch for the day. Saying this you can purchase pre-made salad bags in your local grocery shop which makes eating healthy more convenient.
While these are the main pro’s and con’s of eating healthy I am realistic in the sense that pre-packaged foods do have their place in today’s society, especially when you are travelling or camping for example. While being prepared may come easier to me, it is what I love to do.
When you are turning to pre-packaged foods just try to keep it in moderation and allow for this type of food to be occasional treats rather than everyday foods. You can find healthier options these days in grocery stores such as (chia seed puddings, tuna and mixed bean tins, tinned fruit, wholegrain crackers and natural protein bars) as opposed to packet chips, lollies and frozen pies for example.
I do believe it is important to enjoy treats/occasional foods and I myself enjoy eating out once a week for this reason. Our bodies are pretty unique and very capable of metabolising and excreting products when we are healthy.
Going grocery shopping can either be a fun or a dreaded activity, often involving the purchasing of many items that were not on your grocery list, if you actually had one to begin with!
New products are forever being advertised along with constant “ON SPECIAL” signs that invite and encourage us to spend more to save more or to try something new. Lollies, chocolate and soft drinks are terrible for always being on special!
To avoid over spending the best way to grocery shop is on the outside of the grocery store with travelling down minimal isles. Buying certain foods in bulk is also a great idea and more cost effective long term. Also a great idea to eat before going grocery shopping to avoid the temptation of purchasing foods that you would not ordinarily buy.
When you first walk into the Supermarket start here:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Natural Yoghurts and Organic Dairy
Once you have found all of the produce you like from these areas, it is sometimes necessary to travel down isles to find other staple foods.
Isles that are often good to travel down:
- Health food isle (for products such as; nut butters, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, brown/black rice, cold pressed oils, nuts and seeds)
- Long life milk isle (almond, coconut, oat and rice milks)
- Biscuit isle (wholegrain crackers)
- Tinned food isle (tin lentils, chickpeas and beans or dried ones)
It is always best if you can pre-plan your meals for the week so you know in advance what to purchase, however this is not always practicable for everyone and I don’t always do this myself.
When you do see specials on nuts milk, health foods or tinned legumes and pulses for example, if you can afford to buy extra it may be worthwhile if you use these foods on a weekly basis.
If you see specials on vegetables and fruits, you can always buy extra and freeze. Frozen fruits make great additions to smoothies when you are time poor and creating your own frozen vegetables comes in very handy when you come home late from work or when you have run out of fresh produce.
If you try and stick to the outside of the grocery shop as much as possible you will often be able to purchase a lot of good quality and healthy foods while avoiding the temptation of packaged/processed foods.
Travelling for any reason can often be stressful to some extent and to top it off buying food is often expensive especially at airports. While plane trips often include meals, these meals are often comprised of processed foods loaded with sodium and preservatives. Ever wondered why you don’t feel the need to use the bathroom as much when you’re on long haul trips!
After spending 2 years working FIFO, flying became second nature and I learnt to take my own food with me to avoid the sluggish feeling I would get if I ate my gluten free meal provided. Even travelling overseas I tend to take a fair bit of my own food as well to reduce the amount of preservatives and sodium I am consuming. It is unlikely that you can always avoid eating prepared meals especially on long haul flights overseas, but there are other food options you can take with you to snack on in between that won’t leave you feeling sluggish and uncomfortable.
• Wholemeal crackers – add some nut butter.
• Chia seed puddings – (1 tbsp chia seeds and 1 tbsp of flavoured protein powder – just mix with approximately ½ cup of liquid about 20 minutes before you wish to eat it). Add some nuts/seeds for some crunch!
• Vegetable chips – look for brands in the health food isle or health food shops with low sodium.
• Natural protein bars – look out for brands with few ingredients and refined sugar free. Often found in health food isles or health food shops.
• Nuts and seeds – make your own trail mixes. Choose raw only not roasted or salted. Dried blueberries, goji berries or cranberries can also be added for a hint of sweetness.
• Fresh fruit – dependent on where you are travelling and the quarantine requirements.
• Home baked goodies – such as biscuits, protein bars/slices, muesli bars etc. Making them yourself you know exactly what is in them.
• DIY porridge – add 1/3 cup of wholegrain oats and 1 tbsp of flavoured protein powder to a Tupperware container. Just ask a flight attendant to provide you with some hot water to add to it. Allow to sit for a good 5 minutes and enjoy. Be creative and add in some cinnamon, coconut, cacao or any other flavourings you like as well before leaving. Can always add some nuts and seeds to serve with.
If you are very well prepared you could make yourself proper lunch and dinner meals and take a small cold bag with you on board a flight.
Remember to drink lots of water, the air-conditioning and pressurised air on a plane is very dehydrating.
By eating healthier snacks and drinking lots of water, the jet lag you experience may not be as hard to overcome either.
Happy and safe travelling 🙂