Health guru and television presenter Hala El-Shafie shares her simple changes for a healthier you
Consultant nutritionist Hala El-Shafie, is a familiar face from the healthy eating scene, with regular appearances on This Morning, as well as her show How to Eat Well. What are Hala’s top tips for anyone looking to overhaul their eating habits this spring? We find out…
What are the best ways to reduce refined sugar?
I’m not a fan of sugar replacement, such as sweeteners, as you’re not doing anything to alleviate or re-educate your palate. Having said that, people don’t need to completely avoid a sweet taste – both fresh and dried fruits are nature’s natural sweeteners, but they also have added nutritional benefits, including giving us a fibre boost, so are well worth adding to your shopping list.
Do you have any tips to overhaul a less-than healthy diet?
My number one tip is simply to cook from scratch. That way you know exactly what’s going into your food. Also, to focus on a plant-based diet. This doesn’t mean necessarily becoming vegan or veggie just ensuring that you’re upping your vegetable intake significantly, as overall we are still not eating anywhere near enough fruit and veg or getting any where near enough fibre in our daily diets. It is also important to ensure you’re hydrated and are drinking enough fluid throughout the day. We should be aiming for two litres per day, which can easily be maintained through hot drinks such as herbal teas, fruit teas and water. Try popping some lemon, lime or oranges in the water to give it some added flavour if you don’t like drinking water.
What is your go-to recipe for something satisfying, and healthy?
I don’t have a go-to recipe as such – instead, I just go on what I am feeling that day and what’s in my cupboards and fridge. I am an intuitive cook and speed is a key factor – I’m not one for spending hours in the kitchen, so I like something fast and satisfying. Veggies are a staple of any meal – stir fries are always a winner as they’re speedy and you can get loads of variety of veggies as well as plenty of flavour – they’re super quick to prepare and you can vary the temperature. I love spice and lemon in my dishes so I would generally ensure that these are pretty much always used in my cooking, but you can adjust basic recipes to fit in with your own likes and dislikes.
As an ambassador for California Prunes, what are their health benefits?
They are significant in improving digestive health which is a key aspect of ensuring one’s overall health is maintained. We are still as a nation not eating nearly enough fibre and that impacts negatively on our bodies. I would recommend they are included as part of a healthy balanced diet, and can be added to a variety of dishes, or eaten as a healthy snack.
What five store cupboard essentials can’t you live without?
My top five ingredients I always make sure I have in my cupboard are tinned tomatoes, tuna or sardines (oily fish), brown rice, porridge oats and California prunes.