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October 23, 2015

Healthy Eating Doesn’t need to be Boring: 6 Foods for a Well-Balanced (& Enjoyable) Diet.

Hafiz Issadeen/Flickr

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I’ve become quite clued up on nutrition in recent years, after I found tiredness had begun to affect my life and my diet was a major player in this.

I’ve been a vegetarian since I was old enough to understand where meat came from and up until a few years ago, I will admit my diet was pretty basic. Sure, I was a veggie so I wasn’t frequenting McDonald’s on regular basis but I also wasn’t paying too much attention to what my body needed.

That’s where lots of research into nutrition came in, and why I hope to share some of what I’ve learnt along the way. We all know food how important food is yet so many of us fail to truly understand the qualities that certain foods hold so I wanted to focus on foods with natural fat-burning properties, perfect for anyone looking to make healthy changes to their diet.

Loving ourselves is important no matter what shape we are, but sometimes in life we have moments that spur on positive changes. These changes could be anything from deciding on a career move to deciding that we want to improve our overall health.

These foods are all great for us and are bursting with plenty of amazing health benefits. Don’t be scared of foods that contain fat—not all fats are bad, and we shouldn’t drastically cut them out of our diet.

It’s important to stress that this a natural and healthy way to burn fats and increase your general health, as opposed to using dangerous methods such as diet pills which are to be avoided at all costs.

Coconut

Coconuts have previously taken a fair amount of slack due to the saturated fats content but recent studies have shown that the fats present are medium-chain triglycerides and these are actually transformed into fuel and energy for the body. So enough with bullying coconuts!

Coconuts are also pretty handy at protecting against stroke and heart disease. The various compounds in coconut flesh work together to reduce LDL cholesterol which has a track record of causing a risk of cardiovascular diseases.

So time for some coconut inspiration:

> Use coconut oil to blend it into your smoothie with other delicious fruits and low fat organic yogurt. Ffind out more about coconut oil here.

> Shred it and use as a topping on salads.

> Use in a healthy homemade curry with lots of spices and veggies.

Ginger

Due to its ability to increase our body temperature, ginger is an amazing natural fat burner. Our bodies work hard to reduce the temperature thus burning calories in the process. It’s also a natural remedy for reducing muscle pain and soreness. Previous investigations have proved that just 2 grams of ginger a day can improve muscle related pain and it is to be believed that ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties are to thank for this.

There are loads of ways to incorporate ginger in to your diet—it’s a pretty versatile spice and can be used in lots of different ways, and here are a few to get started:

> If you’re feeling a bit naughty or deserve a well-earned treat, then you could bake some ginger cookies (this is not an excuse to bake cookies every day though, mind you).

> Make a healthy fresh ginger tea. It’s very soothing, can also help with upset stomachs and sore throats will be thankful for it too.

> Added to a stir fry, ginger gives a fabulous warmth to foods and is incredibly tasty with noodles and vegetables.

Avocado

I know what you’re thinking—fats! But hear me out. These little green amigos full of creamy, fatty goodness boost our metabolisms and help convert fat into energy. Avocados also contain a carb which is called mannoheptulose—it is a sugar that prevents the breakdown of glucose and enhances calcium absorption, both encourage fat loss. So don’t be put off when someone remarks about the “fat conten”’ of an avocado.

Here’s what to make with an avocado:

> Guacamole.

> Guacamole.

> Guacamole.

Is it obvious that I love guacamole? Grab a couple of avocados, an onion, a tomato, a lime and a pinch of salt and you’re good to go. Try and steer clear from the Doritos though, opt for some sliced pepper for a healthy snack. If dips aren’t your thing then why not add some sliced up avocado into a salad for a healthy lunch?

Oatmeal

Due to oatmeal’s slow digesting ways, it keeps insulin and blood sugar levels low which enables maximum fat burning capabilities. Half a cup of oatmeal contains as little as 133 calories and plenty of fibre which means you’ll stay fuller for longer and stay away from any unnecessary snacks. The only problem with oatmeal is that many of the prepacked supermarket versions are full of sweeteners, sugars and other additives. Stay away from the added flavours and opt for a plain oatmeal and add your own natural flavour. Oh and be sure to go for skimmed or semi skimmed milk, or even coconut—it’s my personal favourite.

> Top with berries for a fruity taste.

> Top with cinnamon for added warmth.

> Drizzle a small amount of organic honey over warm oatmeal for a Winter pick me up.

Grapefruit

Rich in vitamin C, it has been hailed as a weight loss superfood for a long time. The grapefruit has many impressive attributes, it’s high in fibre and lowers insulin levels which can help to suppress our appetite and give us an energy boost. They’re also very low in calories: half a grapefruit has around 40 calories so you can eat with no guilt. In fact they’re so low in calories that you actually burn off more than you consume, making it a negative calorie food. It’s a win, win!

> Slice in half an enjoy as a side to your healthy breakfast.

> Avoid pills from health shops as they won’t have the same effect.

> Grapefruit juices from stores can be full of sugars so go for the real thing.

Fish

Many people consume fish as an extra source of protein, but they also have another handy use–they contain protein leptin which acts largely like a hormone and has previously been proven to influence our metabolism. Studies suggest that those who add oily fish into their regular diet have almost five times as much leptin in their bodies than those who don’t. Omega 3 fish oil also has the ability to make us more sensitive to insulin, which means we are more likely to store sugar as muscle glycogen as opposed to body fat. And if that’s not enough it can also significantly reduce blood pressure levels and the way we deal with stress. So if you want to get that metabolism burning foods quicker, blood pressure and stress levels lowered—eat plenty of fish.

> Opt for an oily fish such as salmon, tuna or mackerel.

> If you aren’t much of a fish eater then try and take fish oil capsules instead, you should take 300mg daily. It also helps with building muscle too, so it’s an important dietary addition.

> If, like me, you’re a vegetarian then you can opt for veggie friendly omega 3 capsules.

Quinoa

Quinoa has become a recent staple of mine. Instead of rice I now opt for quinoa as a substitute for when I’m cooking meals such as a vegetarian chilli. It’s actually technically classed as a seed as opposed to a grain which many people mistake it for. As well as being protein rich there is also up to five grams of fibre from just one cup. Quinoa is also full of iron, vitamin E, selenium and zinc. It’s pretty packed with goodness!

> Use as a substitute for rice or as an extra to bulk out salads.

> It can also be used instead of porridge for a healthy breakfast.

> Blend it into a smoothie—add chia and flax seeds for an extra protein boost.

> Use quinoa to make healthy homemade energy bars that aren’t full of sugar!

We all decide on a health kick now and again, and hopefully these superfoods will be a good starting point for creating a well-balanced and enjoyable diet.

The most important thing to understand is that food should always be enjoyed, so if you want to make a positive life change in terms of your diet and health, it doesn’t have to be boring! ~

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Relephant:

22 Unbelievably Yummy Dessert-like Foods that happen to be Healthy.

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Author: Tilly-Jayne Kidman

Editor: Katarina Tavčar

Photo: Hafiz Issadeen/Flickr

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