If you’re confused about what’s healthy and what’s not, you’re not alone.
As a dietitian, I am constantly bombarded with nutrition questions: “Is this healthy?”, “Can I eat this?”, “What milk do I choose?”… the list goes on and on.
But, trust me, nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated.
I don’t believe in blowing your life savings on expensive superfoods, spending hours in the kitchen making everything from scratch or doing your groceries only at specialty healthy food shops. These things just aren’t necessary for good nutrition.
My nutrition philosophy is much simpler. Take my top five fridge staples, for example…
Fruit and vegetables
This one’s a no brainer. Fruit and veg are brimming with gut-loving fibre, disease-fighting antioxidants and a range of vitamins and minerals that keep your body working it’s best. Think: Vitamin C to help with plant-based iron absorption, folate which is key for mums-to-be and potassium for heart and muscle function, to name a few.
Stick to what’s seasonal as it’s usually the most economical (read: cheap!). It’ll also help to ensure you get a variety of fruit and veg throughout the year – which is crucial as they each have their own unique nutritional properties.
Don’t be afraid of the frozen section, either – frozen fruit and veg are just as nutritious as they’re fresh counterparts (and are a little friendlier on the old bank account, too).
A rich source of calcium for strong bones and teeth, dairy is always on my shopping list.
I love to whip up a homemade smoothie with a glass of skim milk and a piece of fruit for a healthy sweet fix. Plain yoghurt is another go-to snack, but I also have it with breakfast or as the base of a healthy sauce, too. And I couldn’t live without cheese (delicious, glorious cheese). A sprinkle of feta over a salad or the occasional slice of halloumi with a weekend breakfast is my fave.
And to get you up to speed, adults are recommended to stick to reduced-fat dairy (at least most of the time).
The humble egg is a nutrition powerhouse – and while it’s a staple for gym junkies, it offers so much more than just protein.
Eggs are one of the richest dietary sources of Vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin), which is key for maintaining healthy bones. Vitamin A, which supports eye health, is also found in eggs, as is Vitamin B12, which is key for blood and nervous system function. Iron, for oxygen transport, is another prime example. What’s more, eggs provide heart-healthy fats – so unlike what your grandmother might have told you, eggs can actually be good for your ticker.
Plus, most of these nutrients are found in the yolk, so please don’t throw it away!
Hummus and wholegrain crackers is atop my list of favourite healthy snacks.
The key ingredient is chickpeas, which I’m a big fan of. You see, legumes in general are a fantastic source of fibre to support a healthy gut, protein to help with muscle growth and repair, and slow-burning carbohydrates to power you through your day. They’ve also been associated with blood sugar and cholesterol control. What’s more, diets high in legumes are linked with reduced risk of many diseases, such as diabetes and certain cancers.
Last but not least, you can’t go past a cool glass of water to keep you hydrated – and making water for your drink of choice is one of the healthiest habits you can form, for a number of reasons.
Water has many vital roles in our bodies. Upholding the integrity of our cells, regulating our body temperature (via sweat) and even assisting digestion are just some examples.
Plus, water has zero calories, so it’s a good option with your waistline in mind.
And it’s free, so it can do your wallet a world of good, too.
And there you have it – my fridge staples without a superfood in sight. I told you it was simple.
Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based Accredited Practising Dietitian. You can connect with her at www.honestnutrition.com.au, or on Instagram @honest_nutrition.