Many of us have the best intentions to be better with our eating habits, but because we are so busy and because there is so much information out there, we can feel overwhelmed when trying to make decisions on how best to implement change.
The good news is that you can make small, impactful changes in your shopping and eating habits that can make a profound difference in your overall health — and can even be good for the environment. Here are a few tips to send you on your way to healthier eating.
Grand Cayman has an abundance of options when it comes to fresh, delicious and local produce.
One easy change you can make is to have at least one meatless meal every week. Try substituting meat with “meaty” vegetables like eggplant, jackfruit, cauliflower or potatoes, or try alternating sources of protein by using eggs or legumes such as chickpeas, dark red kidney beans, mung beans, black beans or peanuts.
Eat “real” foods by picking items that are 100 per cent of what they say they are. Stay away from foods that are processed, bleached, refined or have hormones added. If you eat packaged foods, read the labels and look for items that have lower amounts of sugars, salts, preservatives and unhealthy fats. Many fat-free items are full of chemicals.
Go local whenever possible. Grand Cayman has an abundance of options when it comes to fresh, delicious and local produce. Incorporate local greens, which pack many health benefits into your meals. Local produce items are your real super foods, unlike foods that have been mass produced or travelled far to get to the Cayman Islands, which causes them to lose much of their nutrient value in the process.
Cook at home at least once a week. There are many sources for some easy recipes to make at home. Cooking at home can save money and bring everyone together for quality family time. You also control what goes into your foods, like the amounts of fat and salt. Some of my favourite sources are on jamieoliver.com, where several recipes focus on health and using only five ingredients, and on eatingwell.com, which is a great resource that includes meals for kids and meal plans.
Learn the tricks of the trade. There are so many excellent books out there that help you navigate the culinary world. Get your hands on a book and cook away. Take a cooking class, like the ones offered at Bon Vivant in Camana Bay, where you can learn a variety of methods, cuisine and tips, and where you can also get to use state-of-the-art cooking tools and kitchenware that can make cooking a breeze.
Spice it up. Try to add flavourful herbs and spices instead of reaching for the salt. Items like garlic powder, onion powder and organic dried herbs can add antioxidants and rich flavours. Turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, fenugreek, rosemary and parsley not only pack great flavor, but they also have amazing health benefits.
Don’t skip meals. Try to eat six balanced small meals a day. That means making sure there is some sort of grain (whole wheat pasta, quinoa, brown rice), some source of protein (high quality meat, beans, nuts) and some sort of vegetable or fruit. Sauces and dressings can make the meal, so don’t skip them; just be mindful of the portions you are using.
Take advantage of healthy, ready-to-eat meals. If you are too busy and can’t get organised to cook, there are several options for healthful meals that can be delivered to your workplace. Many restaurants on Grand Cayman now serve vegan and vegetarian options based on local fare and organic products that taste delicious and are good for you.
Maureen Cubbon is the wellness director at Bestlife Wellness Solutions and resident food educator and chef at Bon Vivant Kitchen Studio in Camana Bay.