Eating healthy food and making healthy food choices has so many benefits. It can leave you feeling energized, help with weight loss, clear up your skin, help with heart health, help you sleep better. Everyone I know wants these things for themselves and their loved ones. But shaking off bad habits that don’t support you in favor of healthy ones (such as eating fast food and highly processed foods all the time), and trying to eat healthier overall, can be overwhelming. That’s why I love making small, incremental changes. These can add up over time, build on each other, and don’t require a complete overhaul of your lifestyle.
Today I’m going to be sharing easy and practical tips on how to adjust your diet for the better.
How To Make Eating Healthy Easy
I know. We’re all busy. There’s a hundred things to get done everyday. There are classes, study groups, readings, work, friends and family commitments. But slowing down and eating properly really does make a difference. Have you ever been eating something and gone for another mouthful only to realize you’ve eaten it all? But you didn’t even realize how far through the meal or snack you were because you weren’t paying attention.
Slowing down when we eat is a great healthy eating habit to adopt. When you eat, your stomach is busy processing the food. Once you’re full, it then has to send that signal up to your brain so that it knows that you can stop eating now. But if you’re busy shoveling food in without really thinking about it, there isn’t time for that message to come through before you’ve already eaten far more than you need to. Instead, slow down, and enjoy every mouthful to help your body to process your food and let you know when it’s done. It’s better to spend 20 minutes eating if it’s going to help you process food, than to chow down everything in 5 minutes.
Shopping with a list
Your grocery store is very intentionally designed. Fruits and vegetables are at the front of the store so that you’ll add them to your trolley and then feel justified adding a few treats as a reward for the good thing you’ve done. Placement on shelves and near checkouts is all intentional to get you to buy the products they want you to. That’s why shopping with a grocery list is so important.
It can help you feel in control of what you’re buying and can help prevent you from picking up those highly processed foods, which you know are filled with additives, salt, sugar and fat that you don’t need.
When you’re meal planning, you can plan out your healthy meals for the week, add a few healthy snacks to the list and then stay focused without having to decide what you might like this week, and getting derailed.
That will definitely help you eat healthier and make better food choices.
Eggs are such an incredible superfood (that word is so overused as there are so many great benefits in many foods that aren’t as exciting as a new berry from the Amazon!). Packed with protein and can be eaten in so many different ways, depending on how you’re feeling. I like to hard boil a batch on the weekend so I have my snacks ready to go for the week ahead. They make a great special weekend brunch and a speedy mid-week dinner when there is just too much going on. So, when you’re meal planning, think of some dishes with eggs in them!
Increasing protein intake
This is always a strong recommendation from registered dietitians. Adding more protein to your diet will allow you to cut back on carbohydrates without leaving you feeling hungry or lethargic. You need a good balance of macronutrients in your diet (healthy fats, protein and carbohydrates) and a lot of us are overbalanced in the amounts we’re consuming. When you look at your plate, how much space is the pasta/rice/potatoes/bread taking up? Dial that down, dial up the protein, fats and non-starchy vegetables to help you feel full and energized after you eat rather than sluggish and lethargic as your body digests all those carbohydrates.
Drinking enough water
This is such an easy one, but it’s one that most people struggle with. You should always carry a large water bottle on you. This makes it easy to track exactly how much water you’ve consumed on any given day. A lot of people overestimate how much they’re actually consuming. Any time you begin craving junk food, reach for your bottle and have a large swig. Medical advice shows that often when we think we are hungry, it’s actually just dehydration. Don’t try and fill yourself up on water to mask hunger, but check and see if your hunger is actually just your body crying out for water.
Baking and roasting instead of frying
I know that frying meat can make it taste delicious. We all know most fast foods are fried and that’s a part of the reason we like them. Unfortunately, this method of cooking isn’t the healthiest. When you fry meat you generally need to add additional saturated fat and calories. A higher consumption of fried food has been linked to Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and death from all causes. Baking or roasting means that the natural moisture in meat slowly evaporates so you don’t need to add extra fat. Spending a little bit more time to prepare meat in this way could save you calories each day that you don’t even know you’re consuming, without having to give up the meat you love!
So, for your heart health and overall health, bake or roast instead of frying. Making better food choices means preparing them in a better way as well, not just getting healthier ingredients. If you want to eat healthier, you have to think about all of it.
Try something new
For some people, deciding to eat healthy means clearing out the cupboards, doing a huge grocery shop and beginning from scratch. But this can be time consuming (cooking unfamiliar meals all the time) and can lead back to unhealthy habits. Instead, a lot of people find a step-by-step approach far more manageable in the long run. Try one healthy meal a week, find a new breakfast to eat, meal prep a big batch of healthy soup for lunch, switch your morning muffin for fresh fruit, switch some fast foods for healthier options, etc. All of that will help you eat healthier and make better food choices, without overwhelming you. But only do one of these until you feel like it’s a regular part of your routine. Once you feel good, then add in one more healthy habit when you’re meal planning and planning your healthy lifestyle. When trying out new meals, make sure they are balanced and include all food groups you need – protein (lean meat, eggs, tofu, etc.), healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, etc.), healthy carbs (quinoa, brown rice, sweet potato, etc.), and fiber.
Skip the sugar
A lot of foods out there have sneaky added sugar, especially those that label themselves as “lowfat”. This is because our bodies are designed to love a certain balance of salt, sugar and fat. Food companies spend a lot of time manufacturing foods to absolutely nail the balance to make food delicious, leaving us craving more. If you can reduce the amount of food that you eat that has added sugars, you’ll be well on your way to eating a healthy diet, and making better food choices. Simple steps really do add up when you want to eat healthier! Next time you’re meal planning, make sure you get rid of any foods with added sugar. Instead, eat natural sugars in fruit – you can drink fruit juice, eat fresh fruit, or make smoothies.