Think ahead for your next nibble, and find a healthier way to get through the day – examples included!
We all know how important it is to eat well. Combined with exercise, it can be the key to a happier, healthier, and longer life. However, reaching for healthy snacks instead of the biscuit tin is easier said than done.
For many of us, foods high in sugar have become an everyday part of our diets. This means that they can often be hard to avoid as our bodies get sucked into a constant cycle of sugar highs and lows. In short, we eat a snack that’s high in sugar such as chocolate or biscuits, and our energy levels soar. But a few hours later we come crashing down again, making us crave more sweet treats to bring our energy levels back up. And so the cycle begins.
Left unchecked, this can cause health complications such as high blood pressure, which in turn can lead to an increased risk of heart problems and stroke. Research shows a direct link between consuming a lot of fructose, which makes up about half of the sugar molecules found in your average table sugar, and increased blood pressure. What’s more, researchers at Louisiana State University found that by drinking one less serving of sugary beverages per day had a measurable decline in blood pressure after just 18 months.
Research Shows Sugar is a Cause for High Blood Pressure
Researchers at Louisiana State University analyzed the results of the 18-month PREMIER Study which was conducted on 810 people with prehypertension or stage I hypertension. Their goal was to evaluate how sugar sweetened beverages affected blood pressure.
The results, which were published in the journal Circulation, found that cutting back on sugar will reduce blood pressure. In fact, they found that those who drank one less serving of sugary beverages per day had a measurable decline in blood pressure after 18 months. This is important because high blood pressure is a risk factor for both heart disease and stroke, and even moderate reductions in blood pressure readings can lower that risk.http://www.drsinatra.com/lower-your-sugar-intake-to-reduce-high-blood-pressure
Global studies estimate that we sit for 7.7 hours per day, and some results suggesting that figure could be as high as 15 hours per day. Excessive sitting impacts our body’s metabolic system so this, combined with the increase in sugar intake paints a pretty unhealthy picture.
Offices can often become a black hole for our motivation to eat well, with a constant supply of birthday cakes, biscuits from meetings, and sugary tea and coffee rounds offering daily temptation.
The good news is that it’s easy to cut the junk food with simple changes, such as preparing lean, healthy snacks. For example, having fruit and prepared vegetables to hand not only helps you and your family reach your five a day but also cuts out the unnecessary calories, fat, and sugar that come with many of the pre-processed, packaged snacking options available such as biscuits, crisps, and cakes.
Small changes, big impact
How can we keep on the straight and narrow when it comes to snacking? As with most things, experts suggest it’s all in the preparation. Follow the tips below and over time you’ll lose the urge to reach for sugar first.
I’m hungry. No wait, I’m thirsty. Often thirst is mistaken for hunger, so try keeping a bottle of water to hand to ensure you’re staying hydrated. The NHS recommends we drink six to eight glasses of water a day to stay healthy and strong, and stay away from juice and fizzy drinks which tend to be high in sugar.
Go for a walk. If you feel the need to open that packet of biscuits, try stepping away from your desk or getting out of the house for some fresh air and positive thinking. It’ll clear your head and get you back on track – do you really want that biscuit? Do you really need it? Wouldn’t I be better with an apple? It also has the added benefit of burning a few calories instead of consuming them.
Put down the cappuccino and go for a herbal tea, or swap your morning full-on milky latte for a less milky Americano so that you still get your daily caffeine fix but without the calories. Because caffeine is a stimulant, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your intake to reduce energy spikes and dips that may lead to cravings for unhealthy snacks.
We can be 100% committed to getting fit and living a healthier lifestyle, but if we don’t have the tools to make this happen we’re likely to fall off the wagon.
Taking just a few minutes on a Sunday to think about quick and easy snacks for the week ahead will ensure that you and your family have healthy snacking options to hand, lowering your risk of reaching for the processed options.
Below are some healthy, wholesome and, most importantly, delicious recipes that are quick and simple to make, Some can be made up in advance, others might want to prepare fresh, so have a small knife and plate handy. You can forget the unpronounceable ingredients with these recipes, too. Everything is suitable for veggies and can be found in a local supermarket, meaning the whole family can get involved.
Grab and go
Fruit and nuts are perfect to take with you when you’re on the move. Not only are they an excellent source of vitamins, healthy fats, and nutrients, but almost all of them need peeling. Lack of concentration on what we’re eating can lead to overeating and unnecessarily large portions, so choosing something that needs preparation means we take time to concentrate on what we’re having.
Ideal for a quick breakfast on the go or a mid-morning energy booster: blend a banana and some milk with your favourite berries. Prep your smoothies and juices on a Sunday night by preparing all the ingredients and freezing them in batches. This will make it quick and easy to blend during the week – and it will keep them cooler longer.
Did you know you can make crisps from apples? And it’s super easy. Slice it, spread it out on a baking tray and leave in a hot oven (110°C) until the edges curl up – around 45 minutes to an hour. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon and pop into look and seal containers to keep fresh.