If you struggle with healthy eating, you are not alone. It’s way too tempting to buy a pastry at your favorite cafe to compliment your coffee, or to pick up a chocolate bar on the way out of the pharmacy. And besides, who has time to eat a balanced meal these days?
There are so many reasons a person might decide to start living a healthier lifestyle. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, to gain energy, or to become stronger mentally and physically, adopting healthy eating habits is your first step toward achieving your goal.
These ten easy-to-follow healthy eating tips will get you on track and keep you there!
1. Meal Prep
How often do you turn to take-out because you simply did not have time to prepare a meal at home? Or maybe it was the neon-orange mac n’ cheese from a box that did it for you. Whatever it was, a quick fix of processed foods is never a good idea. Take out is full of sugars and refined carbohydrates that will leave you feeling sluggish an hour after a meal.
The solution? Preparation.
“Meal prep” is the whole process of planning a meal, from the grocery list to turning on the oven. Once you get into the swing of it, you’ll find that weekly preparation will allow you to eat a balanced meal every night.
Step 1: Plan out a meal for every night. Look up recipes, plan for leftovers from one day to the next, and write up a detailed menu for the week.
Step 2: Write a grocery list including all of the ingredients you will need to make each meal (leave out items you already have at home).
Step 3 (optional): If you don’t have half an hour after work to cook, take 2 hours on your day off to put freezer-friendly meals together for the entire week. Before you go to work, pull the bag out of the freezer and transfer it to the fridge to defrost. Or, put the food in a slow-cooker, and you’ll come home to a hot meal. Make extra, and you’ve taken care of tomorrow’s lunch.
2. Keep it Out of the House
This one’s real simple. Don’t want to eat it? Don’t bring it into the house. Your kids don’t need it either, so having chips (crisps) around is not doing anyone any favors.
3. Treat Yourself
Don’t deprive yourself either! You’ll just end up binging on something extra sugary or extra oily later on. Instead of buying a lot of the cheap stuff, buy a little bit of the expensive stuff. For example, if you’re a chocolate junky, buy yourself a great quality, high-percentage chocolate bar and treat yourself to one piece each day.
4. Eat Whole Grains
Foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates cause a rise in blood sugar levels followed by a drop—this is the culprit when feeling sluggish and slow after a meal. Foods like white rice, pasta, or chips (crisps) will do this to you. Instead, opt for whole-grain options, or complex carbohydrates. Some great unrefined choices are buckwheat, quinoa and brown rice, as well as traditional sourdoughs made from ancient grain varieties such as Emmer wheat and einkorn.
5. Make Smoothies
Everyone loves smoothies. In the hot summer sun, they cool you down and rehydrate you—you can never get sick of drinking smoothies because there are so many ways to make them! If done right, you can get in a day’s worth of recommended fruit intake—and some veggies too. If you don’t like eating spinach, try hiding a little in your fruit smoothie instead.
6. Avoid Processed Foods
Processed foods are loaded with all kinds of nasty things like sugar, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, refined carbohydrates, and artificial ingredients. These things wreak huge amounts of havoc on the body. Not to mention the lack of nutrients in processed foods. Sugar is addictive and regular consumption of foods high in sugar can lead to insulin resistance, increased levels of cholesterol, fat accumulation, and many other things. MSG is known to cause side-effects like headache, nausea, and weakness. Artificial ingredients contain preservatives, colorants, and texturants which are all chemicals that are harmful to the body.
If you’re craving a particular processed food, look it up and find a recipe to make at home. You’ll most likely eat less of it, and you’re avoiding all those unhealthy chemicals that come in processed foods.
7. Drink Water
Staying hydrated is so important to living a healthy lifestyle. Drinking water will increase your energy levels and relieve fatigue and headaches. Water helps the body to flush out toxins through the kidney, prevents muscle cramps, and keeps you regular by aiding in digestion.
Also, when you are dehydrated you are more likely to crave foods that you don’t want to be eating. Drink a tall glass of water before a meal and it will keep your portions in check.
8. Focus on Your Food (Mindful Eating)
Eating in front of a screen is a bad idea. You become consumed in your program instead of focusing on your food, leading to over-eating. When sitting down to a meal, focus on the colors, tastes, and textures, and you are likely to feel full more quickly and less likely to go back for seconds.
9. Eat Snacks
The general rule is that you should not go more than 3 hours between meals. That means that between breakfast and lunch, and between lunch and dinner, you should be eating a healthy snack. This will keep you from overeating at the next meal, or snacking on something unhealthy before dinner because you just can’t wait any longer.
Eating healthily can be a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Taking small steps to a healthier lifestyle by following these simple tips will surely bring you closer to your goal! Do you have any tips to add to the list? We’d love to hear what works for you in the comments below.