Many people don’t know where to start when eating healthier. Here are eight tips to help you eating smarter. You don’t need to do them all, but by incorporating just a couple of changes each week, you will find yourself on a path to better health in no time!
1. Snack Smarter
Start by changing the ‘snack ratio’ in the house. Slowly and gradually have more fruits, veggies and baked snack foods around, rather than the typical, higher calorie, highly processed junk foods. For instance, have at least three types of fruits and veggies (apples, carrots, grapes) on hand at all times to replace some of the cookies, ice cream or candy bars. Don’t forget the almonds, nonfat Greek style yogurt and hummus too!
2. Get a “Hand”le on Portions
Develop a healthy habit of selecting sensible sized food portions. If your plate has a serving of rice that can’t fit into the cupped palm of your hand, then in most cases, the amount of food you’ve chosen is too much. Same goes for nuts, pretzels and pretty much any snack food. Keep your plate full of fruits and veggies and limit the large portion sizes of meats, refined grains (like white rice, pasta and bread) and high fat dairy foods. Check out choosemyplate.gov for a better understanding of portion sizes.
3. Slash Your Soda Intake
Try slowly weaning yourself off calorie-containing soft drinks. The sugar and calories add up and can cause unnecessary weight gain. Good alternatives include unsweetened iced tea or water. If you like the carbonation, try using carbonated water (club soda or seltzer) mixed with ¼ cup 100% fruit juice.
4. Go Easy on the Sauces
Choose low fat and low sodium versions of your favorite condiments. Ask to have your sauces and dressings served on the side. This will save many calories since you will be in control of how much is consumed. Usually more sauce is poured on than what is needed. Dip your fork into the sauce or dressing, and then dip your fork into the food. This will give you the flavor with every bite, but without the extra calories and fat!
5. Eat Breakfast
Eating breakfast is not the only tip, you must try to make it a good choice because it may establish your hormonal appetite regulation system for the day. A donut or muffin with coffee may sound good, but it won’t tame your cravings or temper your appetite as much a s a protein-rich breakfast from eggs, egg whites, oatmeal with peanut butter, yogurt (especially Greek yogurt), cottage cheese with fruit or nut butters with a whole grain bread. If you are eating cold cereal, look for brands that provide at least six grams protein per serving and 10 grams or less of sugar per serving. Use skim or 1% milk to add additional protein.
6. Try Meatless Mondays
Or any day of the week really, but the point is to try to eat vegetarian one day a week to lower your animal protein consumption and increase your plant protein intake (beans, lentils, soy, tofu). This will help to lower your cholesterol, increase your fiber intake, and is better for our ecosystem.
7. Keep Variety in Check
The more variety of foods, flavors and textures you have to choose from the more likely you are to eat (think buffets). So try to make a grocery list and stick to it, planning your meals and snacks everyday so you eliminate unnecessary food choices that may derail your diet.
8. Make One Change at a Time
One way researchers suggest to conserve your daily willpower is to focus on only one positive diet behavior at a time, until that behavior becomes an automatic response. If you try to do too much at once, or take your diet to the extreme, chances are you cannot stick with the routine long enough to provide lifelong changes in your health. Take is slow and steady and stay focused on your goal at hand!
Try a couple of these tips and find what works for you. Small steps to a healthier lifestyle are key. What have you found works when maintaining a healthier diet?