You read right. This year, you shall not starve. Instead, you shall focus on loading up on the good stuff that you’re probably not getting enough of.
Forget silly diets that leave you feeling hungry, grouchy, and lethargic. Follow these simple, doable tips to eat your way to a healthier, leaner, happier, and more energetic you.
Eat more: Protein at breakfast
Yes, it’s high time you stop skipping breakfast. Getting more protein in your morning meal means you’ll feel full longer and be less tempted to binge come lunchtime. One study even suggests that a high-protein brekkie could help people lose body fat mass.
Popular local breakfast options tend to be carbohydrate-heavy (think toast, porridge and fried noodles), so remember to be selective. Opt for a cheese sandwich instead of kaya toast, or tuck into protein-rich foods like eggs and Greek yogurt.
Eat more: Iron-rich foods
If you’re often tired, you could have iron deficiency, the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in the world. In fact, it’s been reported that one in two Singaporean women could be deficient in the mineral.
Getting more iron in your diet isn’t that hard. For a start, check that you are not eating the same meals day in and out. Vary your diet to include rich iron sources such as oysters, mussels, beef, lentils, and dark leafy greens (like spinach). Swapping chicken for duck can make a difference too – the latter contains double the iron. Bonus tip: Eating vitamin C-rich foods in the same meal can actually help boost your body’s absorption of iron.
Eat more: Fresh fruit
We mean fruit, not juice! This is not the green light for you to guzzle the sweet stuff. Most people react in horror when they learn that fruit juices are not as healthy as commonly assumed. Many fruit juices are insanely high in sugar.
Did you know that apple juice packs 10 grams of sugar per 100 grams, while the same amount of Coke has 11 grams – just one gram more? Grape juice is even worse, at 14 grams of sugar per 100-gram serving! You’re better off eating the whole fruit; not only do you get more gut-friendly fibre, but you also gain more vitamins and nutrients from the fruit, which are often lost during juicing.
Eat more: Calcium-rich foods
Many of us don’t think about old-age problems like osteoporosis, although we really should. After all, we have only until age 30 to hit peak bone mass before it starts going downhill. Need another reason to start thinking about your calcium intake? New research suggests that calcium might also reduce pre-menstrual symptoms (PMS) like mood swings.
You probably know dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese are rich in calcium, but they aren’t the only foods that help you build your bones and fight PMS. For the lactose-intolerant, there’s always broccoli, bok choy, edamame (green soya beans), sardines, ikan bilis, and even cereal (many varieties today are fortified with calcium).
Eat more: Fatty fish
If you’re not eating salmon, mackerel or other fatty fish once a week, you’re missing out big time. Oily fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, popularly dubbed as “healthy fats”. Research shows that these healthy fats are good for your heart, brain, skin, and eyes. This site offers a list of low-mercury, sustainable, and high-Omega-3 seafood while this site dishes out some helpful tips on choosing safe and healthy catch. Not a fan of fish? You can also get your dose of Omega-3s from avocados and walnuts.
Eat more: Probiotics
Many food cultures around the world have one thing in common, and that’s cultured or fermented food. The Koreans have their kimchi, the Germans sauerkraut, the Japanese natto, the Indonesians tempeh… the list goes on.
These foods’ health-enhancing powers come from the live cultures of beneficial bacteria, or probiotics, that are used in their fermentation. Probiotics may help prevent and treat a whole host of pesky conditions like diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome, eczema, and even urinary tract infections. Best of all, fermented foods pack a flavour punch too. Double score.
There you go. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a nudge in the right direction. Why ban foods when you can focus, instead, on eating smarter?