Ready to make some changes in your eating? Unfortunately, we’ve gotten in the habit of quick fixes and fad diets. Instead, I suggest taking it a step at a time, to create a lifestyle of healthy eating. Here are 10 ways you can begin transforming your habits.
- Prepare meals in advance
The number one thing you can do to manage your food intake is to prepare your meals in advance. Preparing meals in advance helps prevents unhealthy food choices and provides structure to your day. It also saves money and keeps you from overspending on food.
- Make healthy choices when eating out
Eating out is an easy way to pack on calories and pounds. Choose options like grilled chicken, vegetables, salad bars, or veggie-heavy stir-fry. Avoid fried or greasy foods and limit condiments and high-fat dressings.
- Carry healthy snacks
Carrying snacks prevents unhealthy choices and overeating later in the day. It also increases nutrient intake. Some examples are fruit, raw veggies, nuts and seeds, cheese sticks, hummus with veggies, and Greek yogurt.
- Increase servings of fruit & veggies
Fruit and vegetables provide nutrients that decrease the risk of diseases like cancers, heart disease, and diabetes. They also help prevent weight gain and obesity. You should aim for at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables each day.
- Limit highly processed foods
Highly processed foods contain extra ingredients like added sugars, sodium, unhealthy fats, flavors, and dyes while being in low in nutrients. Eat food as fresh as possible to boost the nutrient content.
- Limit sugar intake
Eating more sugar makes you crave more sugar. Packaged foods may contain sugar from many different sources. High consumption prevents weight loss and increases the risk of disease. The recommendation is no more than 6 teaspoons (24g) of added sugar per day for women and no more than 9 teaspoons (36g) for men. Check the nutrition label for the sugar content.
- Stay hydrated with water
Water is needed to regulate body temperature, remove waste, and distribute nutrients throughout the body. It also helps to prevent overeating. Aim to drink half of your body weight in ounces.
- Do not drink your calories
We often hear, “you are what you eat,” but we pay less attention to what we drink. Many drinks can cause consumption of too many calories and sweeteners, leading to weight gain and health problems.
- Control your portions
Eating too much at one time is a recipe for weight gain. Sometimes it’s not WHAT you eat but how much you eat. Make sure your food servings are the appropriate portion sizes. Use the “plate method” for a visual aid.
- Aim for progress, not perfection
Developing new habits will not happen overnight. Do not have an all or nothing mentality. Focus on developing healthier habits over time.
Remember, too many changes at one time is a recipe for burnout and back peddling. Since our goal is to make this a lifestyle, I recommend focusing on one or two changes at a time. Focus on and commit to making those changes until it becomes a habit. Once those changes have become a part of your regular routine, then start adding in a couple more changes. This is the best way to make long-term changes with any goal.