Healthy diet doesn’t have to be hard, and you don’t have to cut out your favorite foods to stay healthy. Instead, tweak your eating habits so you can enjoy the food you love without sabotaging your health goals along the way.
These 10 tips for healthier eating will help you make small, manageable changes that pack big results in the long run!
1. Increase Your Cooking Skills
Eating more fruits and vegetables is one of my top tips for eating healthier. Fruits and veggies are high in fiber, low in calories, and packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc., but eating them fresh is often not an option if you’re on-the-go all day long. Some great ways to help increase your fruit and vegetable intake are by increasing your cooking skills: choose recipes that require roasting (vs baking), steaming (vs boiling), or grilling (vs frying). I also recommend getting more creative in your approach to buying fruits/veggies — it’s amazing how much you can enjoy unusual options like broccoli rabe, fennel bulb, braising greens like chard or kale if you give them a chance!
2. Start a Meal Plan
When you’re trying to lose weight, it can be easy to get into starvation mode—meaning that you eat too little for your body’s needs. That can make it harder to burn calories and cause your metabolism to slow down as well. So if you plan out what meals you’ll have each day (as well as snacks), you won’t be tempted by unhealthy options like fast food or vending machines—and schedule workouts so that you have time for them each day, there’s less of a chance that any one thing will throw off your weight loss plan. Write down what snacks and meals look appealing, then hit up some grocery stores in advance so that when week one starts, all of your food is prepped and ready to go.
3. Cook at Home
Eating out can be fun, but it’s usually not very healthy. Eating out means you have less control over portion sizes, ingredients and extra additives like salt and sugar. It can also cost significantly more than eating at home—for example, while $20 to $25 will get you an appetizer, drink and dessert at most restaurants, you could easily make that meal yourself for well under $5. That being said, cooking isn’t always easy (especially if you don’t know what you’re doing), so it makes sense to take advantage of local options or cooking with friends whenever possible. A great way to do both is to cook for others; many people find it motivating to share their passion for cooking by whipping up something fresh from scratch.
4. Simplify Meals
Instead of preparing large, labor-intensive meals, try preparing more meals that have several ingredients in them. Cook multiple components at once and freeze one or two items to use later. This will not only help you reduce your time spent cooking but also ensure that you aren’t buying excess food. It’s also important to plan ahead so you know exactly what meals you’re going to make each week. If it looks like too much, break it down into days so it’s easier to prepare on each day of your week.
5. Label Everything
Are you trying to cut back on sugar? Chances are good that sugar isn’t just hiding in your donuts and ice cream—it’s probably lurking in your produce and packaged goods, too. It can be tough to recognize added sugars (aka non-nutritive sweeteners) on labels because they aren’t always labeled as such. The amount of added sugar is often given in grams or percent daily value, making it harder to compare between brands. Try reading food labels for more information about what you’re eating and steer clear of products with ingredients you can’t pronounce or understand. In many cases, there are better options available.
6. Buy Local and In Season
When you buy local and in season, you support local farmers, who are much more likely to use sustainable growing practices. Plus, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper. Plus plus, your food won’t have to travel so far before reaching your plate, cutting down on both cost and emissions. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have access to organic or sustainable foods; just doing as much of your grocery shopping at farmers markets as possible is step in the right direction.
7. Add Variety
If you eat the same thing day after day, you’re probably missing out on a lot of nutritional value—and boredom may have something to do with it. Make sure your diet is rich in variety: Eat seasonally and make sure you try everything from new fruits and vegetables to exotic meats. You don’t need to keep track of every meal—but just by adding different flavors, shapes, and textures, you can make sure your body receives all kinds of nutrients. Incorporate delicious nuts like almonds or pistachios into your daily routine for extra protein and healthy fats that will help balance your blood sugar levels.
8. Learn About What You’re Eating
One of the best ways to eat healthier is to be mindful of what you’re putting in your body. You should read nutrition labels, check ingredients and make a list of foods that are healthy for you. You can also download an app that allows you to scan barcodes and get nutritional information about what you’re eating. This will help you choose foods that fit into your diet and keep unhealthy items off your plate.
9. Shop the Perimeter of the Grocery Store
Most grocery stores are laid out with junk food and sugary sodas near the entrance, forcing you to pass by them on your way around—which is exactly what you don’t want to do. To avoid overspending and eating unhealthy foods, shop at supermarkets in other areas of town or look for one that sells only organic products. Another option: Keep track of how many trips it takes you to get everything on your list; if it’s more than three, you should reconsider where you shop. Supermarkets typically make more money from high-margin items like alcohol, dairy and meat than they do from staples like bread and cereal. When possible, fill up on these less expensive products first so that—on average—you end up spending less per trip.
10. The World Is Your Oyster
Eating seafood is a good way to get omega-3s, which lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease. Shellfish such as oysters also contain lots of vitamin B12 and zinc, which are great for your immune system. Eating seafood will not only keep you healthy, but it’s also delicious. There are lots of different types—so be adventurous and try something new!
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