Easing Into A Healthy Diet​

Easing Into A Healthier Diet​

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction. 

Feeling the after-effects of all that festive snacking? Here's how to get back in shape by eating healthier. 

Replace certain foodstuff in your diet with alternatives that are nutritious but lower in calorie count. ​

Nutritionist Jenny Goh said that food packed with plenty of antioxidants, fibre and good fats are good choices. She said: “One can be​nefit from a healthier diet, regular exercise​ and moderate portions. Overconsumption of ‘healthy food’ may not always be beneficial when one exceeds his or her daily calorie requirement.”

1. Replace red meat with fish occasionally 

If you had over indulged in red meat during the festive season, replace red meat with fish at least twice per week to reduce saturated fat content. Fish packed with Omega-3 fatty acids including salmon, mackerel and sardines are good options. 

For people who do not consume fish, Ms Goh said that chia seeds are alternatives that provide Omega-3. Chia seeds can be sprinkled on oats, cereal and beverages.​

2. Consume sufficient dietary fibre 

There are two types of dietary fibre – soluble and insoluble. Both types can aid our digestive system. 

During digestion, soluble fibre dissolves in water and creates a gel-like texture. Foods with plenty of soluble fibre include legumes, oats, barley, nuts and beans. 

Insoluble fibre, which cannot dissolve in water, adds bulk to our stools. Foods rich in such fibre include wholemeal grains, vegetables and the skins of fruits​

Ms Goh recommended drinking enough water to complement your fibre consumption to promote regular bowel movements. 

Try the following to increase your fibre intake

  • Select brown rice and wholegrains over refined grains such as white rice and white bread.
  • Instead of eating white bread for breakfast, snack on steamed pumpkin, sweet potato, oat, cereals and muesli.
  • Swap meat for beans, tofu and legu​​​​mes occasionally.
  • Consume whole fruits instead of drinking fruit juices.
  • Snack on fruits and vegetables instead of crisps, chips and chocolate.​ 

3. Swap chips with nuts 

If you often crave crunchy snacks, nuts are healthier alternatives compared to deep-fried titbits or crisps. Suitable for people who are always on the go, nuts can satiate your hunger and fulfil nutritional needs. They also keep better than most fruits and vegetables. 

Ms Fiona Chia, a nutritionist with more than five years of experience said: “In general, nuts are good sources of unsaturated fats, protein, fibre and minerals.” 

Pistachios contain Vitamin B6, almonds are full of fibre, while cashews contain iron and zinc. 

Although they are nutritious, consume them in moderation as nuts are high in calories. 

Ms Chia said: “Munch on a small handful (about 30 grams) a couple of times weekly for a well balanced diet. Consume a variety of nuts. Avoid nuts that are deep-fried or laden with salt and sugar.”

​​​​4. Eat foods with a range of nutrients 

Acquire sufficient amounts of a variety of vitamins and minerals. For example, red capsicums, oranges and kiwis are good sources of vitamin C. 

Ms Goh said: “Consider eating salads with moderate amounts of dressing during one or two of your daily lunches. 

“Include vibrantly coloured fruits such as berries and kiwi fruits in your diet. If you can, choose those that are less sweet.” 

Ms Vivianna Wou, an accredited nutritionist, recommended adding beetroot, purple cabbage and watercress into your diet. 

Beetroot contains the amino acid glutamine, purple cabbage has potassium, while watercress contains vitamin K, vitamin C and calcium. 

Both beetroot and purple cabbage can be juiced, eaten raw in salads or cooked. Watercress can be eaten raw after being washed thoroughly or cooked in soups.​ 

5. Cook with healthier recipes 

With store-bought food, you may not always have access to healthier options

Consider cooking your own meals occasionally to cut down on unnecessary calories. 

For instance, instead of buying sugar-laden jams from supermarkets, make your own. You can adjust its sweetness and spice levels to your liking. 

This article provides general information only and is not a substitute for medical advice. Please consult medical or healthcare professionals for advice on health-related matters. 

​Ms Chia shares her recipe for an a​pricot and apple nutmeg jam:

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