How to be healthy

How to be healthy

If you watch my cooking videos, you’ll know that I have a massive sweet tooth; I seriously struggle to go a day without some kind of dessert or sneaky treat. The reason I haven’t turned into a 30 stone monster (yet) is when I’m not indulging on a smooth, creamy Nutella Cheesecake, I’m otherwise living a fairly healthy lifestyle. So here are some of the things I do to stay healthy and in shape:

1. Count Calories (Learn the food science basics)

It’s become second nature to me now. When I’m contemplating going back for another cheeky slice of that thing I made or was lured into buying because it was on offer at the supermarket, I’ve already started counting up how many calories I’ve had that day and whether I can get away with it.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t let it rule my life: If I go out for a meal and get full by the time I’m done with the main but then spot a chocolate fondant on the dessert menu, y’all are gonna have to sit and wait for that baby to come and for me to eat it in front of you whilst pretending I forgot to offer you some; Or if I’ve gone 16.5 calories over my daily allowance because I felt like a cheat day, I’m not going to have a nervous break down. It’s about knowing the rough science & composition of what you’re eating so that you can eat what your body needs. Once you get the hang of it, it’s no effort at all to keep a balance of what’s going in with what your body needs.

2. Know where the sugar’s hiding

Breakfast cereal, fizzy drinks, fruit juice, pre-packaged meals & sauces. These are just some of the worst contenders and some people don’t realise just how bad they are.

I swapped those sugary/chocolaty cereal flakes/balls for granola-with-yoghurt many years ago and I’ve never gotten bored of it. Granola (if you buy the right one, or better yet, make it) is a great way to start your day as it has a good balance of what your body needs in the morning. I used to make it as it was tastier than buying it and only took 10 minutes of effort for a 1-2 week batch (although have been lazier more recently and now usually buy it). I stopped drinking fizzy drinks and cut down on fruit juice a long time ago too: Most of the time I just drink water, usually around 4 pints a day. I save the Coke for the occasional treat and the juice mostly just for smoothies. Finally, I try and avoid pre-packaged meals & sauces: Unless you have a degree in food science (and my MEng in Cheesecake Science doesn’t count), you just don’t know what’s in them. Making it yourself out of the raw ingredients can always be so much healthier because you see what goes in, plus you can experiment to find ways to tweak recipes to make them even more to your taste.

3. Meal size & timings

“Breakfast like a king, Lunch like a prince, Dinner like a pauper”.

It’s pretty simple when you think about it: Why eat the biggest meal and give your body the most energy right before you go to bed, as so many people do? It can be quite hard due to people’s school or work schedules, but stacking your daily food consumption towards the beginning of the day is the best way to do it. Although I have in the past, I admittedly don’t stick to it rigidly right now, but it does still guide my meal choices: I’ll eat a bigger breakfast than most people and will try and favour a bigger lunch and smaller dinner rather than the other way round. Giving your body the chance to burn the food you give it by following this mentality really does make so much more sense.

In addition to this, I’ll be snacking all the time whilst I’m at home (and subsequently lower the portion sizes of my three main meals). Whoever thought up the three meal routine did so for convenience and rightly so, but healthy snacks in between are the way to go: Nuts, fruit, trail mix, seeds, peanut butter (if it’s not loaded with sugar) on brown toast, smoothies, dark chocolate (with high % cocoa), to name a few. They hold off the less-healthy cravings, keep your metabolism boosted and keep your energy up throughout the day.

4. Exercise

Working out at the gym

Working out at the gym

This is a pretty simple one. You can’t be fit and healthy if you don’t exercise enough. I personally don’t like cardio for the sake of cardio and thusly get incredibly bored within 5 minutes of being on a treadmill. Take me back to 2012 when I was studying at UCSB in California, USA and I would happily go barefoot running on the beach in the heat, or play football (terribly) in the heat (for academic credits that counted to my degree, how is that even a thing!?), but seeing as England has approximately 2.6 hot days a year, it’s a lot less appealing here. Fortunately I do enjoy working out by lifting weights and try to do that around three times a week. It’s recommended for a multitude of health benefits that we aim to achieve a minimum of moderate physical activity for 30 minutes five times per week; I still feel I’m a little short on this so am working towards doing more exercise outside the gym!

Easy switches you can make today

A few simple tricks that are so easy to implement and will get you well on the way to a new & healthy you!

  • Switch white to brown. Pasta, rice, bread, etc.
  • Switch potatoes to sweet potatoes. They’re a much better carbohydrate to consume due to their lower GI.
  • Switch white/milk chocolate to dark. Gradually increase the cocoa % if you’re not an immediate fan. Milk chocolate is mostly butter and sugar, and some white chocolate doesn’t even contain cocoa!
  • Switch more rice/pasta/potatoes for more veg. A really easy way to do this is with frozen veg. Some may argue it’s not as good as fresh veg, but it’s so convenient to always have some in the freezer ready to easily throw in with any meal really.