The Power of Real, Whole Foods
Living in beautiful Nelson, New Zealand, I'm surrounded by an abundance of fresh, locally-sourced produce. Like many of you, I've experienced the difference real, whole foods can make, not only on the scale, but also on our overall health. Take it from a girl who loves her snacks as much as her Yorkshire Terrier Eddie loves his toys: there's a tasty truth to snacking that might just lead us to our healthiest, happiest selves.
We often hear about the importance of incorporating whole foods into our diets, which many nutritionists and health experts suggest are key to overall health and weight loss. But what are whole foods? Essentially, these are foods that are unprocessed, unrefined, or only minimally refined, and free from additives or other artificial substances. Think, well, most things you can find in the fresh produce section of your favourite local grocery store.
Why You Should Eat the Rainbow
Our bodies are complex machines and to keep them running smoothly, we require a myriad of different nutrients. Each colour of the rainbow--red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet--corresponds to a different group of phytonutrients. For example, lycopene, found in red fruits and vegetables like tomatoes and watermelon, has been linked to a lower risk of certain cancers.
Sure, we all know about the benefits of eating our greens, but the other colours of the rainbow are just as important. Don't forget your purples and blues, full of anthocyanins, which have been linked to brain health. Who could resist a snack that might make you smarter? Just remember: the more colours on your plate, the more variety of nutrients you're going to get.
Ditch the Diet, Embrace Variety
Diets can be restrictive and, let's be honest, pretty boring. Naming certain foods as 'bad' can even make them more appealing (I speak from experience!). Instead, it can be useful to think about adding more variety to our meals. Each food offers a different array of nutrients, so trying new and different things can help us make sure we're getting all the vitamins and minerals we need.
Next time you're at the local farmers' market, try picking up something new. Maybe a veggie you've always wondered about, or a fruit you can't pronounce. You might find a new favourite, and hey, who doesn't love a fresh, crisp Asian pear with a sprinkling of almond butter?
Plan Your Snacks
Planning ahead can make the difference between reaching for the biscuit tin or grabbing a healthy, tasty snack. Personally, I like to dedicate some time each week to preparing my snacks. It's a ritual, really: Eddie at my heels, a podcast humming in the background, the satisfying chop of my knife as I slice through colourful bell peppers and crunchy carrots. It's a little thing that makes a big difference.
Relying solely on willpower when you're tired and hungry isn't always the most effective strategy. But having options ready to go can give you the boost you need. Prepped veggies with hummus, mixed nuts, or Greek yogurt with berries and a drizzle of honey, for instance, can sustain your energy levels and satisfy your cravings at the same time.
The Art of Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is about enjoying our food. It's savoring each bite, basking in the textures and flavours, and listening to our bodies' hunger and fullness cues. It seems simple, but believe me; it can be a game-changer! I've often found that by eating mindfully, I'm much more satisfied with less food.
But how do we eat mindfully? It's about taking the time to truly engage with your food. Appreciate its vibrant colours, unique textures, and distinct flavours. Listen to the crunch of your apple, notice the sweetness of your grapes, and really taste that almond. It's a whole new way of experiencing food–I promise!
Sweet or Savoury: Why Not Both?
Sometimes, we crave something sweet; other times, the salty hit of a savoury snack is what we need. And sometimes, we want both! Here's the good news: Nature's got you covered! For a perfect blend of sweet and savoury, try combining salty foods like cheese or nuts with sweet fruit like apples, grapes, or dates. Your tastebuds (and your body) will thank you.
I'm a firm believer in balance, and that applies to our diets too. It's okay to have a treat once in a while, and yes, healthy snacks can be delicious. Just remember to enjoy your food, listen to your body, and keep a rainbow of nutrients on your plate. Your future self will thank you.
The Tasty Truth: It's About Balance
Finding the right balance can be a bit of a Goldilocks scenario: not too little, not too much, just right. This holds even more truth when it comes to healthy snacking. We want to feel satisfied and full but not overindulge. It's all about portion sizes and oftentimes less is more. After all, we're talking about a 'snack', not an unintentional meal.
Balance also involves choosing not just what to eat, but also how much and when. For me, well-placed snacks can help maintain energy levels and even boost productivity (as I found out while writing this article!). Here's to tasty, nutritious snacks that make our days just a little bit better!
So, my friends, while delicious, nutritious snacking may seem like a tall order, the truth of the matter is: It's completely doable. It's about practice and, yes, some planning. But as the benefits begin to show–in our health, and in our happiness–it becomes pleasurable. A little effort for a lot of reward. And we all deserve that balance in our lives, don't we? I certainly think so. And Eddie agrees. His favourite snack? Apple slices. As long as he gets his treat, he's one happy pup!