Every new year, we make a pledge to eat healthier. It’s easy to make that promise in theory, but just as easy to fall off the wagon and give in to fast food and takeout. Healthy eating plans are admirable but not so easy to execute. The important thing is that you’re making an effort. We’re here to offer some tips that support overall health and changing bad behavior patterns.
1. Add, don’t restrict
Instead of making a list of foods that you can’t eat, make a list of healthy and vibrant foods that support a healthy diet. Mentally, it’ll make it easier to make that jump to healthy eating. Maybe you need more leafy greens. Perhaps a goal is to simply add more color into your meals, since doing so increases your daily intake of phytonutrients.
2. Not all fat is bad
We’re so brainwashed into thinking fat is bad for us, but there are lots of fat goods that are super satisfying to eat, but don’t count as indulgences. For instance: nuts, avocados and EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) are amazing for health and help balance hormones in women. The key is knowing the difference between these health fats and inflammatory fats, such as margarine, fried treats, or canola oil.
3. Swap soda for herbal tea
Drinking soda is a bad habit that’s hard to kick for many. Even worse, many of us chug it rather than properly enjoying it. We’re basically pouring a bag of sugar down our throats when doing that. See if you can switch out soda for herbal tea, which you’re forced to sip rather than gulp down.
4. Stop skipping meals
We’re so used to skipping meals and depriving ourselves, but this just causes our blood sugar to drop while cortisol levels get higher. Both of these things cause weight gain. To avoid these, eat multiple small meals throughout the day or three balanced meals. Don’t have time? Make sure you always have healthy snacks on you, like fruit or almonds.
5. Meal prep all the way
Giving into cravings or not having anything to eat after a long work day can cause us to make poor, impulsive food decisions. Instead of ordering that pizza or burger, have your meals planned. It takes the stress out of washing and chopping your veggies. You can freeze or refrigerate fully pre-made meals, or you have pre-chopped or pre-cooked veggies ready on hand to make cooking a breeze.
6. Incorporate pre/probiotics
Along with normalizing gut health, adding a supplement with digestive enzymes or pre/probiotics will stimulate a satiated or full, feeling. You can also find these naturally in plant-based foods like papaya, but in case they’re not readily available, a supplement or beverage such as kombucha or kefir works just as well.
7. Give into your indulgences, in small portions
Make a list of foods that are ”worth it” to you. This can be tempting foods at family gatherings, your favorite cheat day eats, or something you love to munch on post-workouts. Repressing cravings is never healthy for our brain or body, so give into the decadent treat and just balance it out for the rest of the week so you don’t start obsessing.
8. Сommit to eating fish over meat
Cutting meat out of your diet is a great way to start. You don’t have to go fully veggie — fatty fish like mackerel and salmon, when eaten twice a week, can drastically improve heart and brain health. This is thanks to the omega 3 fatty acids, which meat does not contain.
9. Eat on smaller plates
Portion control is hard, but when the plate in front of you is full, it mentally helps you stop overeating. Eating on a big plate makes your brain think you haven’t eaten enough. Also consider the color of your plate – according to science, the more the color contrast, the less we eat. For instance: eating Mac and cheese on a white plate versus a green or blue one.
10. Focus on nutrients over calories
Calorie counting is no way to live your life, and it’s much more beneficial to your system if you focus on nutrients instead. Our energy depends on how well we extract it naturally from foods. Calories aren’t all equal, and the quality of that calorie is much more important than the amount you’re putting in your body. Focus on whole foods over processed options to follow this rule.