Healthy eating: seven small changes that can make a big difference | Full of Beanz

Healthy eating is easy with these simple tips.
Photograph: 10’000 Hours/Getty

Eating healthily can feel like an insurmountable challenge when life moves at increasingly unprecedented speeds. It’s easy to think: “What difference is it really going to make?” But fairly minimal changes can have a big impact on your health, and they are easier to stick to than you might think.

These stealthy, healthy tips will help you navigate the conflicting advice and Instagram diet crazes to find easy health commitments you can live by every day (and still find time for that afternoon cup of tea and a treat):

1 Reduce sugar
Choose reduced sugar versions of family favourites like baked beans, ketchup, spaghetti hoops or tinned sauces. Heinz No Added Sugar Beanz only have naturally occurring sugars from the tomato sauce and no artificial sweeteners, so you can keep your beans on toast and still enjoy all the health benefits. Half a can is one of your five-a-day, and they’re naturally low in fat with just 1% of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) per portion. To find more low-sugar varieties to include in your weekly shop, the NHS advises checking the label for the “carbohydrates (of which sugars)“ figure: more than 22.5g of total sugars per 100g is high, and should be avoided, and 5g or less per 100g is low and the way to go. So Heinz No Added Sugar Beanz, with 1.9g of sugars per 100g, more than delivers on a lower sugar option without compromising on taste.

2 Eat less meat
Chickpeas, jackfruit and meat-free burgers are everywhere right now with veganism and vegetarianism on the rise, along with “flexitarianism” – for people who’ve made a decision to reduce their intake of animal products. Meat is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals, but the Department of Health advises eating just 70g of cooked red and processed meat per day as a healthier choice. Try eating good quality meat just once or twice a week, and use beans, lentils, tofu or mushrooms in your go-to recipes as an alternative, meat-free source of protein.

3 Reduce salt
Seventy-five percent of the salt we eat is found in everyday foods such as bread, snacks, breakfast cereals, tinned food and ready meals. Adults should only consume about one teaspoon of salt per day (6g), but the national UK average is 30% higher (8g), which has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Cut down on naturally salty foods such as bacon, cheese, prawns, sausages or ham, and go for reduced salt versions of core ingredients such as stock cubes, sauces, soy sauce or tinned vegetables. Heinz No Added Sugar Beanz have 25% less salt than standard baked beans, for example, so you can feel twice as virtuous.

Photo of a young family preparing breakfast together in their kitchen

Fibre needn’t mean breakfast cereal – fruit and veg can also be fibre-rich. Photograph: AleksandarNakic/Getty

4 Eat more fibre
Fibre is essential for healthy digestion, but we just don’t eat enough. The British Nutrition Foundation recommends adults eat 30g per day, but the average daily intake is currently a rather meagre 17-20g. You don’t have to start the day with a bowl of cardboard-tasting brown cereal to get your quota; try foods that are naturally high in fibre like No Added Sugar Beanz, fibre-rich fruit and veg such as bananas, raspberries, broccoli or carrots, or nuts and seeds. Chia seeds are a small but mighty source of fibre: they’re 40% fibre by weight and perfect for sprinkling on wholegrain cereal, porridge, or in a smoothie.

5 Smaller portion sizes
This might be the trickiest one of all, especially if your eyes are bigger than your stomach. Overeating is a common cause of unhealthy eating habits – restaurants serve larger portions and when we’re cooking at home it’s easy to go for second helpings. Recommended portion sizes are often less than we think; the British Dietetic Association recommends 2-3 tablespoons of cooked rice or pasta, or one medium slice of bread as a portion of carbs, for example, and a portion of cheddar cheese should be no bigger than a small matchbox. Check the label for the recommended serving size, and stick to it. There’s no point opting for healthier food, and then eating twice as much.

6 Focus on your food
This trick requires you to do almost nothing at all. If you focus on what you’re eating, put your knife and fork down between bites, and eat a little more mindfully, then you might find yourself feeling more satisfied and making healthier choices. If we eat without paying attention or while doing something else then we’re missing out on the pleasure of eating. Taking your time also helps your brain know when you feel full sooner, so you avoid overeating, and it aids digestion too.

7 Snack happy
Snacks aren’t “bad” in themselves; it’s natural to have peaks and troughs of energy throughout the day and look for a little late afternoon pick-me-up. It’s only when snacks are packed with sugar, salt or added fats that we should think twice and step away from the biscuit tin. Slow-release energy snacks with under 100 calories are best, as they will fill you up and not give you a sugar high. Try keeping an oat bar in your bag, slip a packet of nuts or dried fruit in your coat pocket, or have a banana close at hand in the office. If you make healthier snacks quick and easy to get hold of, you’re less likely to resort to that bag of crisps or chocolate bar when you’re feeling low.

Find out more about Heinz No Added Sugar Beanz here

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