Five ways to eat more healthily in 2020

If your New Year’s dieting resolutions are already yesterday’s news, it could be time to stop resolving to give up eating ‘unhealthy’ foods and start thinking about forming new, healthier habits instead.

Budget and one-pot cook sensation Miguel Barclay shows you some of his “easy, nutritious and healthy” recipes, which he says look a bit fancy but are simple to make. Sophie Medlin, a registered dietitian, also suggests positive things you can introduce to your lifestyle instead of trying the sometimes “unrealistic ‘perfect’ diets of your favourite celebrities”.

Here are five ways to step up your healthy eating without feeling the pain of dieting in 2020.

1. Cook easy meals from scratch

Start slow and simple by making an easy dish once a week. Increase the number of meals you cook as you build up a collection of your favourites. Use the ‘Your Favourites’ button on BBC Food to bookmark your recipes.

You can also make double the amount of a dish for dinner and take the leftovers to work for lunch the next day. Supermarket lunches can be high in salt, sugar and saturated fat – not to mention costly. If you make your own, you just need a lunchbox and you’re good to go!

Healthy recipes can be super-easy to make. “If you’re even remotely daunted by cooking fish, I’ve got something easy, nutritious and healthy for you”, says Miguel Barclay, making his Salmon, veg and couscous parcels (cooked in the video below).

Watch Miguel Barclay making salmon and couscous parcels in minutes.

2. Stock up your storecupboard

With savvy shopping, healthy eating doesn’t need to break the bank. A storecupboard full of cheap staples, such as tinned pulses, beans and tomatoes and packets of rice and pasta, can make creating healthy dinners quick and affordable. Be sure to stock up on fruit and veg too!

Homemade curry can be as simple as chickpeas cooked with tinned tomatoes, carrots, spinach and a few spices. Tinned kidney beans and sweetcorn cooked in tomatoes and spiced with chilli flakes makes a simple veggie chilli dish. Mash potatoes with tinned fish and fry for perfect fish cakes – you can add extra ingredients as in this recipe, or keep it simple. Click the picture below for more tin-tastic ideas.

“If you’re going to be cooking on a budget, herbs and spices are essential,” says Miguel. Dried oregano for Italian, curry powder for Indian and ground cumin for Mexican dishes are Miguel’s top spices. “These herbs and spices are going to make your dishes come alive,” he says.

Easy ways to cook with tins

3. Buy frozen fruit and veg

Getting your five-a-day is one of the best things you can do to get your diet on track. One simple way to achieve this is by making the most of frozen fruit and veg, which tend to be cheaper than fresh. Miguel calls frozen veg ‘saviours’ of healthy budget cooking in his gnocchi bake video. To top it off, they may even be more nutritious, as the freezing process can preserve nutrients.

Pop frozen berries into smoothies or crumbles. Blend frozen bananas to make a delicious ice cream. Tip frozen peas, green beans, sweetcorn, carrots and broccoli into soups, stews, curries and pasta sauces for a healthy and delicious dish in seconds.

Simple recipes from frozen ingredients

4. Make your own healthy snacks

Adding fruit and veg sticks to your lunch or dinner could be all it takes to get your five-a-day. If you buy ready-made snacks from a shop, be sure to read the ingredients label. Some snacks we think of as ‘healthy’ may be loaded with sugar or salt. Food that doesn’t need an ingredients labels, such as fruit, veg and nuts, is more likely to be good for you.

Here are two terms to look out for on a label:

  • ‘Low-fat’ means the product must have less than 3g of fat per 100g, but when producers take out fat they often pile in sugar.

  • ‘No-added sugar’ labels don’t guarantee a low-sugar content. ‘No-added sugar’ products can contain fruit juice concentrate as a sweetener, as it doesn’t have to be labelled as ‘added sugar’ even though it is essentially the same as sugar.

How to read food labels

5. Keep moving

Think about one way to add more movement to your day. Whether it’s walking to the shops rather than driving, or squatting while brushing your teeth, there are achievable ways to increase the amount of exercise you do.

BBC chef Tom Kerridge knows the importance of keeping moving. He and his life-long friend and personal trainer Adam Peacock can be seen showing strength exercises on his new series Lose Weight and Get Fit with Tom Kerridge on Wednesdays at 8.30pm on BBC Two.