Here at Bodnant we believe that the way to a more balanced and fulfilled life is through making small changes that amount to a lot. Small changes are more likely to see you reaching your goals than committing to monumental overhaul and will become habit sooner than you think.
If there is one thing you can do to improve your health and wellbeing, it is eating more vegetables. Every single piece of dietary wisdom on the planet boils down to this one thing and, unless you are particularly sensitive to one food group or another, will reap massive benefits within a matter of mere days.
Vegetables for vibrant health
Eating clean is very much the done thing these days, all involving, in a variety of ways, giving up one thing or another that isn’t great for your health. We are advised to give up gluten, sugar, dairy, grains, pulses or meat because of either their effect on insulin and other hormones or their inflammatory properties. What works for one doesn’t always work for another and the best way forward really is to educate yourself with a broad view of the issues and do what works best for you.
But there is one thing that all of these approaches have in common; when you remove or limit an ingredient on the plate it encourages you to fill that space with vegetables. And when you do, you begin to feel better than you ever have before. Your body soaks up all the vitamins, minerals and accessory nutrients, many of which are not found in any other food form or in such concentration, and begins to run as it should. Embrace vegetables in all their abundant glory and you will automatically adjust your eating. A chocolate brownie is a chocolate brownie whether made from sweet potato and chia seeds or chocolate, eggs, flour and sugar; it should be a one-off treat regardless of its guise.
Keep up the good work
What happens when you stop eating vegetables? It can be easy to fall into the trap of being busy and tired, reaching for pasta and bread or the biscuit tin. Do you want to eat a delicious vegetable dish when stuffed with wheat and sugar? No you don’t. And unless you work at it you will be back where you started. Vegetables first, some protein and some fat. Then it’s up to you. According to recent figures, most of us do not even reach our 5 a day. Once you bring vegetables (and fruit) on board and fill your plate at every meal you will laugh at the notion of 5 a day.
Extra fruit or vegetables for breakfast
What do you eat for breakfast? By now you should be used to adding half a banana to your bran flakes or a spoonful of berries to you porridge. What if you have more berries and less porridge? Or toast with avocado piled on top? Not many of us are very good at eating breakfast during our working days but there are plenty of ways to introduce more fresh produce to breakfast on the run. At the weekend there is no excuse.
Get the balance right at lunch
What about lunch? A sandwich, a pasta box? A snickers and a can of Red Bull (my personal favourite when time is short and adrenaline is high)? Again, make sure there is plenty of veg in there; choose nutrient rich foods such as chunky homemade soups or salads. Experiment with different grains such as buckwheat or quinoa. Don’t like that idea; that’s fine, stick to regular pasta but use less pasta and more vegetables. If you want a bit of bread with your soup then that’s your prerogative. A bit of butter on that bread; that’s your prerogative too. Make sure both are of the best quality that you can afford. Research shows that sourdough bread may be far more beneficial than an ordinary white loaf and the jury is well and truly out on saturated fat. Mindful eating is very much of the moment too. At its smallest denominator, this simply means paying attention to the food you eat; in terms of your health and that of the environment.
Get creative with veg at dinner
For most people, dinner time is where they have a bigger meal and a little time at home. Make cooking a habit and use your new found vegetable vitality to propel yourself to the kitchen. Sometimes a simple piece of local quality meat with a big plate of steamed veg will do the trick, at other times you may want to experiment with roasting seasonal roots or making a big hot and cold salad. Keep it seasonal, be adventurous and remember to keep the ratio in favour of the veg. Big world flavours are accessible to us all now. Going Asian? Make less noodles and more veg. Indian? Keep the rice to a minimum and make room for extra veg side dishes.
I think by now you may have got our point. Look at your plate, your lunchbox, the food in your hand. Where are the vegetables? Change the ratios; that’s all we ask.