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Amelia Freer: 10 ways to make your diet healthier
February 1st 2016 / 4 comments
Photography by Kirstin Sinclair
Want to feel healthier, lighter and leaner? Expert nutritionist Amelia Freer helps you improve your diet with these 10 simple steps, plus five days' worth of healthy recipe ideas
No matter what your starting point is, there are many positive things that can be achieved by cleaning up your diet with just a few simple steps. I’m not talking about a soft and gentle approach - there just isn’t time for that.
Foods that have been processed to no longer resemble their original source, that are laden with sugar, chemicals, damaged fats and flavourings are just like junk mail – if you eat these foods consistently, over time you’ll get a system crash. So in the same way as we need to maintain our inboxes, delete the trash and put good virus protection in place, we need to do the same with our diets. Now is the time to remove the junk, ensure optimal digestion and flood the body with an abundance of health promoting nutrients.
Scientific studies have shown that people are only able to make three changes at a time, so if this list of rules feels overwhelming or impossible, then choose the three that are most relevant to you - no, not the easiest ones! - the ones that you know you really need to do.
1. Keep a food diary
It’s time to be truthful and conscious about how much and how often you are eating and a food diary has been shown time and time again to be an excellent tool for making dietary changes. You can only change your habits with awareness, and writing things down makes you fully mindful. If you don’t want to write you can take pictures on your phone, make notes on your phone or scribble it all down in a pad – whatever works for you.
2. Preparation is key
Clean out your cupboards and fridge at home. If you have others who do not wish to partake in this eating plan then allocate a cupboard for their junk and tell yourself that it’s strictly off limits.
3. Stock up on real food
Real food is food in its most natural form, that’s as fresh as possible, seasonal and preferably organic. You shouldn’t be eating anything pre-prepared, certainly nothing with a health claim on the front, no low fat, fat-free or diet products and nothing with added sugar. Instead we are talking fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs, meat, poultry, fish, nuts, seeds and a few wholegrains. If you don’t have access to these foods then you are more likely to fall off the wagon so it’s essential to stock up on what you can eat each week.
4. Aim for the rainbow!
Choose a wide variety of coloured vegetables and fruits – don’t just stick to the same few that you know, get experimental.
5. Cut out wheat, dairy and sugar
If you want a flat stomach then they’ve got to go.
6. Ditch sugar-laden liquids
Alcohol, fruit juices (yes, even fresh fruit juices), fizzy drinks or flavoured waters. From now on it’s still or sparkling water and herbal teas only.
7. Eat 3 meals a day ONLY
That means no snacking between meals, no second helpings and just one plate per meal – if you want to lose weight and tone up, it’s time to eat less.
8. No calorie counting or fad diet concepts
Let go of all the confusion – it’s time to eat real food in sensible portions and get moving.
9. Get some Zzzs
You need a minimum of eight hours’ sleep per night.
10. Get body brushing
Start at the feet and work upwards in sweeping motions – this helps to encourage our lymphatic system to clear out toxins.
Amelia's Recipe Ideas for a diet kick-start
It’s time to wave goodbye to sugar filled breakfasts, lunchtime sandwiches, take away dinners and all the bits you might sneak in in between. Here are some suggestions to get you started (plus you can find more of Amelia Freer's recipes here).
Raw granola – choose sugar, wheat and gluten- free (I recommend Raw healthy vibrant living fig and apricot granola) with unsweetened almond milk; I like to add fresh orange zest to this.
Green protein smoothie – click here for the recipe
Omelette made with 1 egg, onion, tomato, peppers and spinach. You may have an apple also.
1 slice of rye toast/gluten free toast or a seed cracker with avocado, tahini and cherry tomatoes – squeeze with a little lemon juice and a small pinch of sea salt and pepper.
½ cup of porridge oats made with almond milk or water, a heaped tablespoon of Chia seeds and ½ cup of berries.
Lettuce wraps/boats – use lettuce as your outer layer, and load up your filling into the middle and enjoy.
Poached chicken with rocket, cherry tomatoes, spring onion, cucumber and walnuts with lemon zest, lemon juice and olive oil.
Chickpea salad - ½ cup cooked chickpeas with lambs lettuce, red pepper and orange segments.
Smoked mackerel with watercress, mixed sprouts, beetroot, broccoli, sundried tomatoes and walnuts.
Broccoli, avocado, spinach, red onion, apple and toasted hazelnut salad with lemon juice and olive oil
1 fillet of steamed wild salmon with garlic, ginger, lemongrass, chili and coriander (Waitrose do a great frozen herb pack of these ingredients for ease) with pan fried pak choi.
Poached sea bass on a bed of cherry tomatoes with shallot, garlic, lemon and parsley served with steamed spinach.
Flattened grilled chicken breast (use a rolling pin) with avocado & apple salad.
Prawn and mango stir fry – use ginger, shallot, lemon juice and lots of coriander (see freernutrition.com for recipe).
Broccoli and cannellini bean soup - use ½ head of broccoli florets and ½ cup of cooked beans, cook together with onion, celery, leek and garlic. Add chicken or vegetable stock and blend all together to make a thick and creamy, filling soup.
Amelia Freer is a nutritional therapist and author who has helped celebrities including Sam Smith, Michael Ball and Kirstie Allsopp to lose weight. Check out her Winter ebook in our marketplace and find her Cook. Nourish. Glow book here