Amy McKendrick, also known as ‘My Nutrition Coach’ whom featured on the popular ‘2Day FM’s Kyle & Jackie-O’ show, has worked with the best Health & Fitness Centers in Sydney, coached 100’s of people to live a healthier and happier life and now wants to help you.
Today Amy shares 5 simple tips on how to become a healthier you.
1. Eat your fruit & vegetables
Aim for five servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit a day, minimum — raw, steamed, stir-fried or slow cooked at low temperatures. A diet high in vegetables is associated with a lower risk of acquiring cancers of the lung, colon, breast, cervix, esophagus, stomach, bladder, pancreas and ovary. And many of the most powerful phytonutrients and antioxidants (which help to reduce oxidative stress) are the ones with the most vibrant colours — such as broccoli, red cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, purple grapes, blueberries and leafy greens. Fruits and vegetables are the most densely nutritious varieties of carbohydrates, so make each meal count, by adding some to each meal of the day. The more variety the better! Not only will these foods provide us with the nutrients to protect us against disease, but they will make us look and feel fabulous.
2. Aim for 5 meals per day
What, when and how much you eat can keep both your metabolism and your energy levels steadily elevated, so you’ll have more energy throughout the day. A 5 meal a day plan will help you manage your weight, maintain your focus, stabilise your blood sugar levels, avoid cravings and prevent you from overeating. You just have to make sure that each of your meals are well balanced with densely nutritious foods and contain each of the macronutrients; useable protein, some ‘good’ fats and good quality nutrient dense carbohydrates such as fruits and vegetables, sweet potato, quinoa, sprouted breads and brown rice. If you are eating 5 meals a day, aim to eat something small every 3 hours. Start to listen to your body to give you signals that you are hungry and make sure that you stop when you know you have had enough to eat. Eat until you are 80% full, not until you have to undo your pants!
3. Minimise grains
There are many reasons to minimise or avoid consuming grains. The main two constituents of grains that promote poor health are gluten and the anti-nutrient phytic acid. Gluten is a type of protein found in some grains, such as wheat, barley, rye and oats. Gluten is very hard to digest and can damage your gut lining, whether you experience gastrointestinal symptoms or not. Gluten increases the permeability of your intestines, causing a leaky gut, which can make it easier for incompletely digested compounds and other harmful substances that should stay in your gut to enter your bloodstream and cause problems. Phytic acid, or phytates, is an antinutrient that is only found in plant-based foods. Cows have the enzyme, phytase, required to break it down, but we do not. Grains and legumes have the highest phytic acid content, although this antinutrient is also found in nuts and seeds. Fruits and vegetables have almost none. The main problem with phytic acid is that it binds to the precious minerals you consume, especially calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc, preventing you from absorbing them properly. If you are going to consume grains, prepare them in the correct way such as eating them sprouted, fermented (as in sourdough bread) and long soaked (such as activated nuts and long soaked porridge. Not only will it pre-digest the gluten, but it will de-activate the anti-nutrients that cause bloating and other gastrointestinal problems.
4. Think small
Often the biggest deterrent to improving health is feeling confused by all the available advice and it can be incredibly overwhelming to make all the necessary changes all at once. Try to focus on one small unhealthy habit at a time and turn it into a healthy, positive habit. If you are in the habit of buying your lunch each day, because you don’t have the time to prepare your lunch in the morning, make extra dinner the night before and take leftovers instead. If you have a can of soft drink at lunchtime every day, have a glass of water two days a week instead and eventually you will feel the benefits of being more hydrated. If you skip breakfast because you run out of time in the morning, make it a priority that you start the day well, by waking up 15 minutes earlier to prepare a healthy breakfast. Starting with small changes helps establish the mentality that healthy change is not necessarily painful change. It’s easy to build from here by adding more healthy substitutions.
5. Drink up!!
Water makes up more than two thirds of the weight of the human body and the human brain is made up of 95% water and blood is 82%. The body cannot function without it, just as a car cannot run without fuel and oil. All cell and organ functions depend on water for their functioning. Water serves as a lubricant, forms the base of saliva, forms fluid that surrounds the joints, regulates body temperature, helps alleviate constipation by moving food through the intestinal tract (the best detox agent) and regulates metabolism. If your goal is to lose fat, then drink up baby! A healthy body means a hydrated body. In order to make sure that you are well hydrated, you should be aiming to drink at least 30ml of water per kilogram of body weight ie a 60kg lady needs to drink 1.8L of water per day. Plus you should drink extra if you are drinking coffee or alcohol or if you are a heavy sweater when exercising. If you are one of these people who forgets to drink water throughout the day, then make sure that you always have a bottle of water on your desk at work and refill as soon as it is empty. Drink water throughout the day, in between meals. This will not only keep you hydrated, but it will help to fill you up in between meals so you don’t go raiding the biscuit jar! Always drink water away from food. Your stomach is very clever and it knows the exact amount of gastric juices that are needed to digest the food you’re eating. If liquid is going in at the same time, it dilutes the digestive juices affecting proper digestion and absorption. Aim to hydrate about 15 minutes before you eat and then drink water again about 30 minutes after you have finished your meal. Avoid consuming sports drinks, as they contain a load of refined sugars, flavours and colours, which are completely unnecessary. 100% organic coconut water is a much better alternative. It is a natural isotonic drink that provides many of the same benefits as sports drinks, including the electrolytes calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium…but in their natural form!