Six Simple Steps To a Healthy Nutrition Makeover

Improving our diet is one of the most important and effective strategies we can employ to improve our physical and mental health.

In order to get the body — and the optimum health you want, you have to surround yourself with the good stuff… and farewell what’s holding you back in achieving your goals.

Swapping out traditional highly inflammatory foods such as fast food, junk food, highly processed meals, and many convenience foods can improve our ability to resist infection, maintain healthy body weight, and reduce depression and anxiety risk.

The Sneaky Stuff

Most of us know what is considered obvious junk food, you know, foods like chocolate bars, lollies, ice-cream, chips, fast food etc.

But there are many foods that may be lurking in your pantry that’s sabotaging your efforts. It’s very hard to have willpower when there are tempting and less than healthy choices at your fingertips.

Having access to only wholesome, natural and unprocessed foods puts you back in control, removing stress and anxiety that’s often related to food. It also reduces emotional eating.

Trick Foods You Might Think Are Good For You

  • Foods labelled as “low-fat” or “fat-free” usually mean it’s a processed product with added sugar to replace the fat and add flavour.
  • Salad Dressings & Sauces — often high in hydrogenated fat, salt & sugar
  • Breakfast, muesli, & protein Bars — high in sugar, trans fats, and preservatives
  • Breakfast Cereals — high in sugar and refined grains, even those labelled “organic”
  • Fruit juice & fruit poppers — high in sugar, low in fibre
  • Commercial Sports Drinks — contain electrolytes (salts), sugar and often artificial flavours. Most regular people don’t need these drinks or the added sugar. Especially children.
  • Processed Organic Foods — just because its labelled organic doesn’t mean its healthy, these foods can contain the same amount of sugar as regular processed food. This also applies to gluten-free processed foods.
  • Regular peanut butter — high in fat and salt with additives
  • Flavoured yoghurt — especially fruit flavoured and those marketed towards children
  • Margarine — often marketed as heart-healthy, margarine contains chemical additives and refined vegetable oils

Try This Daily

  1. Start your day with a large glass of warm water with half a squeezed lemon. Not only is it a natural appetite suppressant — lemon juice aids digestion and can help to relieve constipation. It also helps in reducing inflammation. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper for a metabolism boost. Fresh grated ginger will add extra zing!
  2. Introduce a green smoothie for breakfast or lunch. It’s amazing the nutrient density you can pack into one simple drink!
  3. Move your body daily, you don’t have to work out hard or long to reap the benefits. Walking is not only good for your body but just 15 minutes of moderate intensity can improve your brain and memory function.
  4. Eliminate as many processed foods as you can (processed and packaged foods usually with 5 or more ingredients).
  5. Avoid processed foods where sugar is listed in the first three ingredients.
  6. Be kind to yourself. Take some time out whenever you can, and don’t judge yourself for taking it. Meditating, yoga, surfing, gardening, whatever floats your boat! It’s not all about sitting in the lotus position and emptying your thoughts. Whatever it is that can take you away from your stress, and it can be in small bursts of just a few minutes at a time. It all adds up.

Clean Out Your Pantry

I don’t believe in simply labelling food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Food is to be enjoyed and provide nourishment and fuel for your body and your brain. We often tend to overthink food, and surround ourselves by temptation and guilt.

Bring healthy foods into your pantry and fridge, and remove those that don’t serve you by using a ‘swap’ system. This can make you feel less like you are depriving yourself and your family.

Swap This For That

Swap OutSwap in alternative
Sugar &
Honey, pure maple syrup, stevia
70-85% dark chocolate or raw cacao.
Protein balls, raw fudge
Soft drinks &
sports drinks
Water with fresh lemon or lime, coconut water
DIY Electrolyte drink —
water, lemon, Celtic Sea salt & honey
MargarineOrganic Butter, extra virgin coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil
Lettuce for wraps or gluten free seeded bread
Oats with nuts and seeds
Natural Greek yogurt with nuts and sliced fruit
Scrambled eggs with vegetables
Natural Greek Yoghurt with raw honey and real fruit
PastaZucchini spirals (can lightly cook in coconut oil),
brown rice pasta, mung bean pasta
Potato chipsHome made kale chips, nori
Cows milk Almond/coconut/oat/rice milk (avoid sweetened)
Table saltPink Himalayan or Celtic sea salt
Potato FriesSweet potato chips
White RiceBrown Rice, Cauliflower ‘rice’

Final Recommendations

Changing your surroundings to healthier choices is one of the easiest ways to start your journey to a better and more sustainable lifestyle.

Relying on willpower to force yourself to stick to a strict diet doesn’t work. By simplifying your choices and reducing the decisions you need to make around food will require less thought and energy.

Remember: Willpower is a limited resource, it’s like a muscle that becomes fatigued from overuse.

Social Psychologist Roy Baumeister

Have a Plan

  1. Say farewell to those non-nutritious foods and remove anything in your house that doesn’t support your goals.
  2. Re-stock your pantry with healthy ‘swap in’ options.
  3. Make a meal plan and grocery list each week. Or have themed nights, for eg. Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Rice Paper Roll Wednesday.
  4. Eat more meals as a family — eating together has been linked with increased child and adolescent intake of fruit and vegetables and other healthy foods
  5. Cook Once, Eat Twice — cook extra when making a meal. I only cook a few times a week!

Develop daily routines and habits that become automatic.

Celebrate your achievements. Even if you achieve just one of these recommendations per day, find a healthy reward to recognise it.

Follow these simple steps and you’ll be on a fast track to a healthier life, the nice flow on affect is improved body composition, less stress, and improved mood.