Do you have trouble eating healthy? Are you constantly tempted to eat fried foods, sugary sweets, and high sodium snacks? A simple change in your diet can have wide-reaching benefits and can help move you towards living a healthier lifestyle. You shouldn't aim for a short term diet. There is no diet that will do what healthy eating does. Skip the diet, just eat healthy!
1. Keep Calm & Don't Be Tempted By Junk Food
Most people experience junk food cravings. However, what some people aren't aware of is the many negative effects that eating too much junk food causes. Junk food plays a major role in the obesity epidemic. In addition, junk food may lead to nutrient deficiencies. Because these kinds of foods are processed to remove their vitamins, minerals, and fiber, they are made into sources of empty calories. Eating a lot of junk food may lead to low energy, mood swings, sleep disturbance, and other health conditions
But, how do we "say no" to junk food? We are constantly surrounded with it every day. It's advertised on television, takes up multiple isles in our supermarkets, and simply is an item that many of us crave everyday. Even though it may be difficult, the key to limiting our junk food consumption is by trying our best to ignore it. How do we ignore it? By simply not buying it! Go through your pantry and get rid of all of the unhealthy snacks. If it isn't there, you can't eat it. However, even though this is a possibility, it isn't always possible to stay away from junk food 100% of the time. So, when you are faced with the temptation to eat junk food, the best thing that you can do is to try your best to stick to healthier alternatives, such as low calorie snacks, whole-wheat crackers, and non-butter popcorn.
2. Eat Less Sugar, You're Sweet Enough Already
One way to feel healthier is to limit the amount of sugar you eat daily. This is because consuming too much sugar leads to a lot of damaging consequences. What happens when you eat too much sugar? For one thing, it contributes to weight gain, diabetes, cavity formation, obesity, and addiction. But overall, sugar is obviously delicious, so how can possibly limit it?
If you are trying to limit your sugar intake, you need to mentally prepare yourself first. Limiting sugar in your diet is going to be a very challenging task and will require a lot of willpower on your part. However, one easy way to decrease your sugar consumption is simply by watching what you drink. Start by decreasing your soda intake by one glass per day. Even though this may not seem like a lot, small steps are better than none at all. Eventually, you will be able decrease your soda intake by another glass per day and continue to do this until you are down to a minimal amount of sugary drinks daily.
3. Choose Whole-Grain Foods
Whole-grains are a vital source of important nutrients such as zinc, magnesium, and B vitamins. Many long-term disease risks are decreased by eating whole-grains instead of refined grains. Furthermore, eating whole-grains has many other benefits including healthier blood pressure, reduced risk of asthma, and less tooth loss. Even just one serving of whole-grains a day will improve your overall health. In your diet, every whole grain helps. Thankfully, it is very easy to make half of your grains whole-grains. There are many available whole-grains that you can choose from.
The first thing that you can do to eat more whole-grains is by making simple switches. Start by switching a whole-grain food for a refined-grain food. For instance, eat whole-wheat bread instead of white bread. In addition, whole grains can be healthy, but appetizing snacks! Some whole-grain snack options that are also delicious include popcorn with minimal or no butter, a whole-wheat bread sandwich, and whole-grain chips
4. Add More Veggies
It is vital to have vegetables in your diet because they provide essential vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, fiber, and vitamin A. The simplest choice that you can make to improve your overall health is by eating more vegetables. Vegetables have many surprising health benefits. Vegetables hydrate your skin, help reduce wrinkles, and create a youthful glow. In addition, eating a diet rich in vegetables may reduce risk for stroke, cancer, and various heart diseases. Finally, they reduce stress because they contain magnesium and vitamin C.
One way that you can add more vegetables to your diet is by simply trying them. Many people choose not to eat a particular veggie simply because they have never tried it. In addition, it is best to buy fresh vegetables in season. Doing this will guarantee a better taste. Vegetables in season even cost less than those not in season. Also, try to buy vegetables that are easy to prepare. One action that you can take is buying packages of baby carrots or celery sticks for quick snacks.
5. Drink More Water
Drinking the right amount of water is vital to maintain your body's fluid balance. The benefits of drinking water are endless. Water will give you more energy because a major cause of fatigue is not being hydrated. Having proper hydration helps maintain clear thinking and better concentration. In addition, your skin becomes hydrated when you drink enough water, which gets rid of the appearance of wrinkles and gets rid of toxins in your body. It also allows you to burn more fat, thus contributing to weight loss. Plus, water is only 0 calories!
Drinking at least 8-ounce cups of water a day is ideal. However, some people may need more or less depending on their weight, gender, and activity level. To calculate how much water you need in a day, simply multiply your weight by 2/3. After you have this number, you need to adjust it based on how often you work out. Every 30 minutes you workout, you should add 12 ounces of water to your daily total. If you workout 45 minutes, you should add 18 ounces of water to your daily intake.
6. Control Your Portions
Many people don't know what a healthy portion is. To avoid overeating any one item and get the right amount of nutrients from all food groups, eat foods in the correct portion size. However, it can be hard to eat or drink a healthy portion, because of the fact that restaurants often serve large meals. Moreover, food makers package foods and drinks in large sizes to sell more. As a matter of fact, portion sizes have grown a lot over the years. For example, 20 years ago the bagel was 3 inches and 140 calories. Now, bagels are made to be 6 inches, and thus total to around 350 calories. So, today's bagel has 210 more calories!
How can you eat smaller portions? One thing that you can do is simply know what the "perfect portion" is. How do you find out what the perfect portion size is? Simply use your hand! 1 thumb tip = 1 teaspoon of peanut butter, butter, or sugar; 1 fist = 1 cup cereal, pasta, or vegetables; 1 handful = 1 oz. of nuts; 1 finger = 1 oz. of cheese; 1 palm = 3 oz. of meat, fish, or poultry; 2 handfuls = 2 oz. of chips or pretzels. In conclusion, downsizing your portions will help you live healthier and aid in weight loss.
7. Eat More Fiber!
What is fiber? Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. It is essentially the carbohydrates that cannot be digested. Fiber has multiple health benefits and it is essential for a healthy diet. Some of the popular advantages of eating fiber include helping control blood sugar levels, aiding in achieving a healthy weight, and lowering cholesterol levels. Many foods contain a decent amount of fiber but some of the foods with the highest fiber are split peas, lentils, raspberries, whole-wheat pasta, and oatmeal.
But, how much fiber does a person actually need? According to the Institute of Medicine, men ages 50 and younger need 38 grams of fiber a day. For men age 51 and older, 30 grams is the ideal. However, for women, the amount of grams is much lower than those of men. Women age 50 and younger need 25 grams of fiber daily and those age 51 and older need only 21 grams. More importantly, try adding fiber to your diet gradually. By Doing this, you will give your GI tract time to adapt to the fiber you are consuming.
8. Choose Healthy Foods Away From Home
Sometimes it is very difficult to find the time to eat healthy on a regular basis. Have you ever been invited to a dinner party, and just automatically assumed that you were going to be blowing your diet for the day? Well, you honestly don't have to! At restaurants, picnics, and other away-from-home food events, there does exist plenty of healthier food choices.
Specifically, when you are dining out, consider what you are drinking. Drinking sugary, fat drinks will only add to your calorie amount for the day. Instead, choose water, fat-free or low-fat milk, unsweetened tea, and other drinks without a lot of sugar. In addition, start your meal with a delicious salad. Doing this will help fill you up faster so that you don't eat as much of the main course. Finally, even though it isn't always easy, simply try your best to choose the healthiest option on the menu. Instead of the fried chicken, get the grilled or baked chicken. There are always healthier alternatives everywhere you go, even if it means picking a food with a smaller amount of calories or sugar.
9. Track Your Food Intake!
There are many advantages of logging your daily food and beverage intake. One such advantage is that by tracking your food, you will gain insight into the various aspects of your eating habits. In addition, keeping a food diary can help keep you focused on eating healthy, provide you with motivation to choose healthier food choices, and help you to achieve and manage your goals. When you are recording what you eat, you may reconsider what you are actually putting into your body. You may ask yourself,"Do I really want to eat that piece of chocolate cake?" and "Is there a healthier alternative that I can eat?"
How can you use a food journal successfully? Make sure to write down every food item that you eat during the day. List the portion sizes of all the food items, ingredients you used while cooking, and the beverages you drank. If you don't want to hand-make a food diary, you can simply use electronic food diaries such as MyFitnessPal or MyFoodDiary. You can even buy pre-made wellness/fitness journals at your local book store or online at sites such as Amazon.com. Overall, it is very easy to track what you eat.
10. Always Eat Breakfast!
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Why is eating breakfast so important? Because it provides the nutrients that fill us with energy and gives us increased concentration. Various studies conclude that by eating breakfast, a person has a better chance of maintaining a healthy body weight. Additionally, as opposed to non-breakfast eaters, those who eat breakfast tend to have overall better diets that consume more fruit, vegetables, milk, and whole-grains. However, WHAT you eat for breakfast is just as significant as simply eating it.
According to Erica Giovinazzo, MS, RD, a nutritionist at Clay Health Club and Spa, "You want to aim for a breakfast that combines good carbs and fiber with some protein." So, what are some healthy breakfast foods? One of the best foods that you can eat for breakfast is oatmeal. Oatmeal contains fiber, which helps to lower cholesterol levels, and is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and potassium. Oatmeal only takes about 15 minutes to cook, depending on what kind of oats you buy. Although oatmeal may sound plain and not-so-appetizing, there are many different ways that you can sweeten it up. Simply by adding some milk, honey, fruit, or nuts, your bowl of oatmeal will taste way better.
11. Eat Regularly
What is regular eating? Regular eating is avoiding long periods of time between each meal. It is also keeping the same pattern of meals from day to day. We need to eat regularly because it will be easier for us to stop eating at the end of each meal, we'll find that we are ready to eat at mealtime, and we'll be less likely to think about foods in between meals.
While it may seem easy to eat regularly, various obstacles can make it difficult. Some things that may get in the way of regular eating include work patterns, family/home environment, stress, and social life. However, it is possible to overcome these hurdles. Planning ahead the times that you are going to eat will make it much easier. Additionally, try to not leave long gaps between your meals. Leaving a long period of time between each time you eat may lead to excessive hunger, which will result in overeating. But more importantly, if you do end up eating unplanned snacks, or simply forgetting to eat, try to get back onto a regular eating schedule as soon as possible. Also, remember to not skip meals! Just as leaving large chunks of time between meals can result in overeating, skipping meals entirely will lead to out-of-control hunger.
12. Eat Protein Every Meal
Protein is definitely the ingredient that you need at every meal. Consuming protein promotes the greatest metabolic lift compared to carbohydrates and fat. By helping to maintain and increase muscle mass, protein can increase your metabolism. Additionally, protein is one of the best fill-me-up foods that you can eat. Consuming protein guarantees that you will feel fuller and more satisfied for a longer period of time.
Some healthy protein sources are yogurt, cheese, nuts, beans, and lean meat. But, if you are tired of these usual protein foods, try some unexpected protein choices such as quinoa and tempeh. Quinoa is a whole-grain rich in fiber, magnesium, iron, and protein. As a matter of fact, a cup of quinoa contains 8 grams of protein. This grain is very simple to make and only takes about 15 minutes to cook. Tempeh, a fermented soy food, originated in Indonesia. A four-ounce serving of tempeh contains about 18 grams of protein. To create delicious meatless meals, switch tempeh for ground meat in tacos or chili.
13. Add Calcium
Consuming enough calcium daily guarantees that your bones and teeth will be healthy. It will also make sure that your bones and teeth will age strongly. By not getting enough calcium, you risk getting diseases such as osteoporosis. You risk this because your body will take the calcium from your bones to ensure normal cell function. For individuals 50 years of age and younger, consuming 1000mg of calcium per day is recommended. 1200mg of calcium is the daily ideal for those over 50 years old.
It is best to try getting most of your calcium from food. To make up any shortfalls, use only low-dose calcium supplements. Also be sure to limit consuming foods that drain your body's calcium stores (caffeine, alcohol, sugary drinks). Some good sources of calcium include dairy products such as low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese. Another good course of calcium is beans such as black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, and white beans. To add high-quality protein to your diet, try replacing red meat with fish, chicken, or plant-based proteins such as beans, nuts, and soy.
14. Don't Eat Too Fast
Eating slow is the secret to attaining a trim figure. Eating slowly and mindfully helps you to eat less. It even enhances the enjoyment of the dining experience. Your digestion suffers if you rush your meals. It also tends to makes meals stressful and annoying. To enjoy improved health and well-being, simply slow down your eating!
To eat slower, try eating in a serene environment with limited interruptions. Don't eat while driving, watching TV, or while texting. The key is to pay attention to the food you are eating. Another thing that you can do to help eat slower is to set aside time to eat. Each meal should be ideally 20-30 minutes. Dinner should preferably be even longer in length.
15. Healthy Eating Starts With Healthy Food Shopping
Healthy nutrition starts with small choices at the supermarket. If you don't have the right ingredients at home, how can you make healthy meals? The most important thing that you can do is plan ahead. Before grocery shopping, plan your meals for the week, and create a shopping list. This only takes a few minutes and saves hours spent reading labels at the grocery store. Check the nutrition guidelines on mypyramid.gov when planning your grocery list. Doing this will make sure that you are including all the foods you need for good health.
As you shop, read the labels. Pay attention to serving size and servings per container. Also try comparing the total calories in similar products and choose the one with the least calories. According to Elizabeth Ward, the author of The Pocket Idiot's Guide to the New Food Pyramids, fill your cart with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, dairy, lean meat, fish, poultry, beans, and nuts. Each week, try adding new fruits and vegetables to widen your taste buds.
16. Drink Green Tea Daily
Green Tea contains multiple health benefits. It has strong antioxidants that help fight free radicals, which are substances that can alter and kill cells in your body. It works to prevent premature aging, cancer, and other diseases. Finally, it increases fat burning and improves physical performance.
Why is Green Tea so effective? One reason is because it is rich in polyphenols, which are naturally occurring plant compounds. These polyphenols have been shown to positively impact a number of illnesses and conditions. It also contains an amino acid called theanine, that crosses the blood-brain barrier and has psychoactive properties. Theanine increases brain wave activity and reduces mental and physical stress. Making green tea is a very easy task, with the cook time is under 5 minutes. Simply heat 1 cup of water, but do not bring it to a boiling point. Add 1 tsp of green tea and brew it for about 2-3 minutes. Don't brew it any longer because the tea will become bitter. Next, strain the tea into a cup. Finally, add honey and a few drops of lemon juice to add taste.
17. Meal Prep
Once a week, prepare for your weekly meals. Doing this saves so much time. It also makes sure you eat healthy meals and snacks throughout the week. You simply just have to choose one afternoon on the weekend and prepare your food and snacks for the week. This day will come to be known as your "weekly food prep day." Having a good prep day is vital to keep healthy eating habits a priority.
To avoid spending all day prepping food, keep your meal plan simple. Don't go overboard with new recipes. Try to keep your breakfast, snacks, and lunches the same all week. Even though this may seem boring, it makes food prepping so much easier. Also try to go grocery shopping the day before your food prep day. Doing both shopping and food prep on the same day can create a day that is super exhausting.
18. Drink a Green Smoothie Daily
Drinking green smoothies has many benefits. These kind of smoothies are better for you than fruit or vegetable juices. Green smoothies contain more fiber because they are made using the entire fruit or vegetable. They are also a great way to eat your daily dose of veggies without even realizing it. A lot of people have issues getting their required amount of veggies daily. But by making a green smoothie, the veggie taste is taken away by the taste of fruit. Additionally, they are easy and do not take long to make.
To make a simple great smoothie, use 2 cups of leafy greens + 2 cups of liquid base + 3 cups of ripe fruit. Simply blend the leafy greens and liquid base together first. Then, add fruits and blend again. To chill the smoothie, use at least one frozen fruit. To boost it's effects, add chia seeds, coconut oil, or almond butter. This great recipe is about 32 ounces and serves 2 people.
19. Eat More Fish
There are a lot of positives that go along with eating fish. Firstly, it's heavy in protein and has less calories than beef and chicken. Fish is known for preventing many different diseases including heart disease and alzheimers. It is even known to improve skin and hair conditions. Having a low-fat diet deprives your skin and hair of the healthy fat it needs. Eating fish will help keep your skin looking nourished and your hair shiny because of the omega-3s it contains. Various studies have also linked fish consumption to treatment of skin disorders.
You should try to consume at least two portions of fish a week, including a portion of oily fish. What counts as oily fish? Some examples of fish that are considered oily are trout, salmon, mackerel, herring, eel, and pilchards. Examples of fish that are non-oily include cod, catfish, haddock, and halibut. One portion of fish is generally about the size of your fist.
20. Commit to Eating Healthy
The most important rule in healthy eating is commitment. Plan to start eating healthy TODAY. Not tomorrow. Not Monday. Not next week. Stop postponing and from this moment forward, pledge yourself to making healthy eating choices. Stop telling yourself excuses, and tell yourself that you are on your way to living an overall healthier lifestyle.
But most significantly, don't try to be perfect. There will be days where you overeat. Days will pop up where you eat a slice of chocolate cake. No one cannot possibly eat healthy 100% of the time. Don't fret. Instead, consider thinking about what led you to make these food decisions and learn from them. Remember to be assertive with yourself. Because it's your body, you can do whatever you want with it.