These days, you usually have to choose between having complicated meals or eating unhealthy fast food or frozen food. In many cases, people who are trying to lose weight go on complicated diets that have too many requirements to remember, let alone keep up with.
However, you can eliminate stress and be healthier at the same time by simplifying your diet.
How can you do this? First, let’s consider what your needs are in constructing a simple diet:
Simple. Everything should be easy to prepare and not take long. You don’t want to be slaving over the stove — 10 minutes of prep time or cooking is long enough. And we don’t want a million ingredients.
Nutritious. Junk food might taste good, but lacks the nutrition you need. To be healthy, you need to get fibre, vitamins, minerals, protein, and good fats.
Low in calories, saturated fat, sugar and cholesterol. Choose options that tick all of these boxes.
These are some things you want to eliminate that don’t meet a simple diet:
Junk food. Obviously. Although junk food can be tasty, it’s simply not healthy. It is high in saturated fat, sugar and that bad stuff.
Processed food. Things that contain little fibre, are low in nutrition or are high in calories. Try to buy food in its natural state, without all the gravies, sauces and cheese on top.
Fast food. Most fast food options are neither simple, nor healthy. Best to avoid it completely.
Red meat. Red meat is high in saturated fat so limit the amount you eat. If you want to eat meat, choose fish, boneless skinless chicken breast and turkey breast. Or try other forms of protein like tofu, nuts, whole grains, and beans.
Fried food. Is high in saturated fat and calories. Look for baked or stir fried options instead.
And what does that leave you with? Just the essentials. And if you stock up on those essentials, you can create simple meals that are tasty and easy to prepare. By simplifying your eating habits, you not only shorten your prep time, but you save on groceries as well. Processed food costs a lot, especially as you usually are paying for all that wasteful packaging as well.
You should also simplify the amount you eat. If you are eating healthy stuff, you don’t need to eat in bird-like portions. But it is best not to have huge heaping servings or seconds and thirds. Stick to sensible portions, and only have one serving. Be careful not to starve yourself, as that will lead to binge eating, but don’t stuff yourself either.
So what would a simplified diet look like? It would have a lot of fresh fruits and veggies, beans, nuts, whole grains. Here are some simple meals:
Breakfast: Whole-grain cereals (no processed or sugary cereals), fresh homemade bran muffins (use whole-grain flour), homemade granola, fresh fruits, or whole-grain toast with almond butter.
Lunch: Sandwiches such as turkey or avocado with tomatoes and sprouts on whole wheat bread; pita filled with hummus, tomatoes, sprouts and lettuce; or leftover soup or chilli.
Dinner: Hearty soup; homemade vegetarian chili; hearty salad with nuts, spinach, avocados, lettuce, carrots and a light dressing; steamed veggies with seasoned brown rice (use sesame seeds, tamari and pepper); stir-fry tofu and veggies; veggie burgers with homemade baked fries (slice up potato, drizzle a little olive oil, salt and pepper).
Snacks: Fruits, cut-up veggies, nuts, pita chips with hummus or salsa.
Treats: Every now and then you need to treat yourself. If you’ve been good, splurge on some crazy fattening dessert. Or treat yourself with little things like a little bit of dark chocolate or berries.