Eating healthy is easier than you think, says BNF

BNF says ‘ditch the January diet and keep healthy eating simple’ to save time and money this New Year.

Studies have shown that two key barriers to healthy eating are busy lifestyles and the perceived cost of healthy foods. To help tackle these issues, the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) is recommending that the nation takes a different approach to New Year’s health resolutions in 2020, and adopts a more sustainable approach to healthy eating.

Sara Stanner, science director, BNF shares her top tips to help people save time, save money, and eat well throughout 2020:

“Although many of us start the year with the best intentions to get healthy, in reality, following a complicated diet plan can often just be too time-consuming, and too expensive to keep up. To make New Year’s healthy eating pledges last, you need to ditch the January diet, and take a step back to consider the basics of healthy eating.

“Despite frequent media attention around the importance of ‘clean eating’, healthy food doesn’t have to mean expensive ingredients and cooking absolutely everything from scratch. The term ‘processed foods’ covers a wide range of different foods with varying nutritional qualities. While some are not healthy choices, others, like canned pulses or frozen vegetables, can be part of a healthy diet, and can help you to cook balanced meals, even when you’re in a hurry.

Yes you can!

“Canned foods can be a great solution when you need to throw together a quick, healthy meal. Canned pulses, such as chickpeas, beans and lentils, are an excellent addition to a pasta sauce or curry, and provide fibre and nutrients like folate and iron. Canned fish is another useful ingredient – tuna makes a quick and healthy accompaniment to pasta or baked potatoes, and canned oily fish, like salmon or mackerel, provides long-chain omega 3s. Canned, chopped tomatoes are the perfect base for quick curries, stews or pasta sauces, and you can add herbs or spices for extra flavour.

Choose economy

“Cost can be a large barrier when it comes to improving your diet, but with some savvy shopping, healthy eating doesn’t need to break the bank! Economy ranges are usually great value, and nutritionally there is often little difference between them and the standard or branded versions. This can relate to things like dried pasta, rice, passata, low fat natural yogurts, and a variety of canned foods including: tomatoes, fish, pulses, fruit, vegetables or potatoes – just be mindful to read the label and look out for added sugar or salt.

Go frozen for freshness

“Frozen fruit and vegetables tend to be cheaper than fresh, and may even be more nutritious as the freezing process can preserve nutrients. Frozen veg is often pre-cut, making it quick and easy to cook, and you don’t need to worry about it going off. Steam on the hob or in the microwave, or add straight into sauces for a simple and effective way to reach your five a day. If you are faced with hungry children that need a quick dinner then frozen vegetables are a great addition.

Bulk up on wholegrains

“Going wholegrain is a good way to boost your fibre intake – on average, we’re all eating much less than recommended. Most of us eat white pasta or rice so try swapping for wholegrain versions with your spaghetti bolognese or curry and you could cook extra so you have some for another day.

Plan for the week ahead

“For many of us, finding time to cook healthy, balanced meals during the week can be difficult – particularly for parents juggling work, school, and other clubs and activities. Trying to make sure you are stocked up with all of the store cupboard staples to put together quick, healthy meals can help and, if you have more time to cook at the weekends and enough storage space you could cook in bulk and keep portions in the fridge or freezer ready for another time. Being prepared and planning your meals can also help you save money and cut down on waste.”

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