8 ways to (susty) hack your way to vibrant health

Since eating is on the agenda three times a day every day, it’s the perfect place to start when getting your susty on and feeling healthier – or maybe the first thing you look at and think, “I need a hack!!”

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So what does this Susty Girl eat, exactly? Well – I’m veggie and I LOVE vegetables, so they are my bread and butter, as it were. I try to buy organic where possible, hoping that it’ll pay back dividends for my health and the planet. If you’re making veg-based meals from scratch using organic ingredients, I don’t think it works out too bank-breaking. That said, not everything I have is organic, and eating more veg is good for everyone, so don’t sweat  it if the price tag is too much. I try to locally source food too – my veg comes from a local farm eight miles away and my bread is from a bakery on the outskirts of Bristol (which I buy from a health store five minutes from my flat 🙂 ). Raw food is also on my radar, but for that, I’m definitely a Susty Girl-in-training! By all means, I am definitely not a perfect eater. I love snacking and am always burning pans.

For the purposes of this article, susty means sustainable in both senses of the word – sourced ethically, and sustaining, to keep you fuller for longer or give you the energy/vibrance to better do your thang. As always, I’m envisaging that you’re too busy going out there and making a difference to be spending too much time staring at nutrition labels in the supermarket.

Here’s a few suggestions that make my life easier – i.e. hacking my diet with limited effort required. You also might already do some of these. Forget those and take the one or two away with you that might be useful. Hope it helps! Let me know your faves and tips at the bottom.

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1. Veg in a box. On the north fringe of Bristol is a strip of very fertile land called the Blue Finger (only 3% of soil in the country is this high quality) so it would be an absolute crime not to invest in and taste its harvest! Besides providing your basics for the week that you can make your meals around, veg boxes of any kind help you eat seasonally, organically, locally and mix up your vitamin intake so you don’t just keep eating the same old chestnut mushrooms. Plus, you really can taste the difference- the tomatoes are super sweet, and you don’t realise how good they can taste when you have value ones all the time. Most importantly, there are a bunch of studies that say that willpower is depletable, so it really helps me to have the basis of my meals arrive at my door without worrying about what’s in season, trying something new or being tempted by the cheaper, pesticide-ridden option when it’s on the supermarket shelf. Easy peas-y.

Tip: I like the no-spud box, otherwise you get overrun with the things (see #3).

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2. Porridge is the new black. This guy’s making a comeback; Deliciously Ella and a bunch of other foodies rave about the humble breakfast. For me, it fulfils two important purposes: keeping me locked up till lunch, and knowing that if everything else goes t**s up during the day, you’ve had a healthy breakfast. Oats are a great source of protein, I use chunky organic ones and throw in some chia seeds for some extra P, plus some tasty cinnamon (apparently linked to a lower body weight – who knew?), sultanas and organic date syrup to sweeten. The apple and seeds in this picture looks totally delish, too. So if you’re out at a conference, have meetings around the city or are just on-the-go where you have less control of what you can munch on, you can relax knowing your breakfast was that of champions.

Tip: if you don’t have time in the morning, you can prepare it the night before. Slow cookers are great for this too – you can program it so its done when you fall out of bed!

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3. Swap your jacket. Like that sparkly new blazer that looks much cooler (yet is the same shape) as your old one, making a straight foodie swap is a great way to get a dash of health without scaring yourself. Trade in your classic white potato for a sweet, orange one and you’re getting 400% of your Vitamin A (hello, superhero immune system), more fibre yet with lower calories – and they taste better too!

Tip: No-one likes to wait around for an hour and a half so I like to stick mine in the oven while I head to my yoga class. When I return, my baked spud is ready to roll.

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4. Omelette is the answer to every question. This’ll pretty much save your bacon (get it?) when you’ve got a bunch of food that’s about to take a turn for the worst. Chuck your dodgy looking veg in, and whip up a fulfilling lunch in only a few minutes when you’ve got places to be. Plus, its easy to double up if an unexpected visitor happens to drop by. Nutrient powerhouse eggs keep you fuller for longer, so while your colleagues are falling victim to the post-lunch slump, you can churn out all the bright ideas in the 3pm meeting.

Tip: I suck at flipping the thing, so sticking it under the grill for a couple of ticks should finish it off nicely.

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5. Eat more chocolate. Whaaaa…? Okay, not more Cadbury’s Dairy Milk – but cacao is the most antioxidant-rich food in the world, so it would be a darn shame not to tap into said goodness. Raw brownies and other cacao-utilizing recipes are a tasty solution, but the combination of rich dates and nut butters do not agree with me too well. Instead, I bought this raw chocolate brazil spread (pictured), and I pop it on Ryvita for a guilt-free snack. This tiny 170g jar cost me £5.95, which makes me want to pass out, so it’s good to have around if you have serious cravings, but might be an expensive habit for everyday. That’s the price of good ingredients for ya. Next time, I want to try a hazelnut version if I can find one, for a more Nutella-style hit.

Tip: You can get organic chocolate spreads for less, but the first ingredient is often still sugar, and contains cocoa rather than cacao. Organic or not, it doesn’t make it healthy!

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6. Detox like a boss. I was heartbroken to discover that at least half your diet should be raw – I love cooking my veg to smithereens! One suggestion to “spring cleanse” your system is to detox with an olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and ginger…drink, which the thought of makes me want to gag. However – that combination makes for a really delightful salad dressing! I tried a zucchini and tomato salad recipe a bit like this one and it is totally amazing. Hopefully getting more raw food in your diet should make you feel as revitalised as possible so you can do your thing with a whole lot more vigour (and side-step some dodgy diseases).

Tip: Beetroot juice with ginger extract is not so bad if you want a quick hit.

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7. Fresh herbs make everything taste like a culinary masterpiece. We often think of herbs as a fancy embellishment, but as well as making basic meals taste a ton better, these tiny greens are little nutrient bombs. Add them at the end and you’re upping your raw quota, too (#6). My understanding is this: throw basil in pasta or Italian dishes, coriander in curry and I like to chuck rosemary on my sweet potato (#3).

Tip: One of my favourite, cheap recipes is Deliciously Ella’s pea and mint soup. That fresh mint makes all the difference! Which brings me to…

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8. Be prepared, or prepare to fail. Fail as in consuming your own body weight in Heinz baked beans. If I have nothing in the cupboard, then it’s inevitable that I will accidentally find myself in the chip shop five houses down from my flat. Whether it’s having veg/shopping delivered (#1), making your brekkie the night before (#2) or whipping up a lovely batch of soup on a Sunday night (#7), having stuff ready to go in the fridge is the key to being a lazy but healthy gal during the week, and spending more of your time and thought energy on being the superstar that you are.

Tip: If you’re a 9-5er, you can slow cook your way to success, so it’s ready when you get home.   It basically requires throwing in your raw ingredients in your machine before you run out the door in the morning. Then you can enjoy more of your summer evening!

I bet you’ve got a ton of susty hacks for healthy eating up your sleeve – I’d love to hear them (and probably implement them myself!) What’s your best tip? Leave it in the comments section below. 🙂

Since food diaries are kind of fun, I’d love to get a glance at other people’s susty eating habits – stay tuned for that. (If you’d like to be one of my subjects – get in touch!)

Make sure you don’t miss ’em by signing up to the weekly Susty Girl newsletter. 💗

Media: via Suki KimJimmy Tan, Slice of ChicKim AhlströmKelly GarbatoVera Yu and David Li and  Lance Neilson.

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