ONE MILLION questions run wild in everyone’s minds when someone discusses eating healthy. There is no real right answer for anyone, as everyone has different goals, different needs, different bodies. Although, with a few basic changes, everyone can make a noticeable improvement to their health, without loosing the food they love the most!
Here’s a handful of food suggestions to help you along, on your healthy lifestyle journey…
Product: WHEAT. We all know it’s bad for us, we all know our digestive system can no longer cope with the way it is processed and baked, we all know to eat less of it. But as a nation addicted to bread, pasta, biscuits, cereal, pastry, cakes, doughnuts, (ETC!), how can we possibly stay away from this delicious grain?
Alternative: Try making your own foods, this way you can substitute in another type of grain and/or flour, resulting in wheat free products! There are many other grains to cook with, found at most supermarkets and health stores; not only will your body appreciate the change, your whole family will love the smell of freshly baked treats! If you really don’t have enough time, there are many wheat and gluten free products on the market.
Product: SUGAR. It rots your teeth, adds kilo upon kilo to your waist line and makes your children hyper-active. Yet, sugar is highly addictive and found in more foods than you are even aware of, it is the key ingredient to making people repurchase.
Alternative: Before buying any sugar replacement, check the packet of what you are buying, is it just a chemical ridden product? Some items, such as diet coke, in fact have more health risks than sugar. Be aware of what you are putting into your body. If looking to buy a sweetener, ask your local health store for a natural nectar sweetener, as it is sweeter than sugar and less corrosive to the body. Try adding a dollop of honey to food instead of extra sugar. Make your own foods as much as possible, not sugar-added, prepared foods, sauces and drinks.
Product: SQUASH, FLAVOURED WATER & FRUIT JUICE. This sugar-laden, chemical full, additive crazy drinks are often marketed as healthy, but do you actually know what you are drinking? Have you thought about why they taste so good?
Alternative: Don’t get me wrong, if you drink a glass of 100% fruit juice, the anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals are the same as fruit and as long as you don’t over do it, this is great for you. But is the glass in your hand 100% fruit juice? What else is in the small print that you couldn’t be bothered to read? Does it really look like fresh, pure pressed fruit juice? There are some new flavoured water products available that are what they claim to be, but watch out as most of them are just as bad as a can of Coke! Try and drink as much water on it’s own as you can in a day, and TREAT yourself to other drinks, read the labels and be aware of what is in your glass.
Product: COOKING OIL. The grease that most food is made in, the poison we are happy to throw on our dinner, the cause of many illnesses throughout the world today. What is it about cooking oil and sunflower oil that makes us to continue to use this deadly substance?
Alternative: It’s time to test what you and your family’s health is worth? Put your hand in your pocket and pick up the Olive Oil instead, this has great properties and although some can be killed when used for cooking, the ill effects of this oil are much less than the traditional cooking oils. You want an oil that’s really healthy for you, at any temperature, for any food, even as a skin and hair product; an essential to all shopping lists should be coconut oil. The good properties of coconut oil are off the scale! Is your health worth the little extra cash?
Product: BREAKFAST CEREAL. Time to put a household favourite under the micro scope. There is in fact not a lot of nutritional benefits in any cereals, no matter how great it is advertised. No matter if it is pink, blue, chocolate, marshmallow or plain; there is no need to start your morning with a bowl of wheat, sugar and preservatives.
Alternative: Think natural, think nutritious. Why not have fruit and greek yoghurt for breakfast? Or oats, milk and honey? Maybe some eggs and spinach? Be more creative with your breakfasts and stick to products with no hidden extras, that way you know what you are feeding yourself and your family. How can you start your day without a fresh, balanced meal, full of good stuff!
Product: COW’S MILK. Ok, so now really isn’t the time for the great milk debate; but let’s face it, with the population quickly becoming lactose intolerant, something has got to give!
Alternative: Most shops now stock a variety of alternatives to cow’s milk, maybe Soya isn’t the best idea any more, but there are still many more options to choose from. Try rice milk or almond milk, if it seems a bit pricey, you can buy the powdered products and mix them with the labelled quantity of water. Even just switching to goat’s milk can make a HUGE difference in your health! (Plus Goat’s milk is Sunnah!) Think before you drink!
Enough talking, time for some quick fire substitutes:
- Potato -> Sweet potato
- Meat -> Choose lean cuts
- Tea/Coffee -> Green tea/coffee
- Chocolate -> Small dark chocolate
- Sweets -> Berry fruits
- Rice -> More vegetables
- Dessert -> Yoghurt and honey
- Soft drinks -> Sparkling water and fruit
- Cheese -> Parmasan cheese
- Jarred sauces -> Homemade sauces
As always ladies, it’s about knowing what you are eating, choosing natural over processed and planning a bit of time into making food. Eat balanced and everything in moderation. Take a second to think and you’re already on your way to improving your nutrition and health.
Salaams to all my dear sisters! Wishing you Jummuah Mubarak and a healthy weekend ahead inshaAllah!
Safiyah Esack – 26/04/2013