We all want to eat healthy…but what does that mean? Don’t miss these 10 tips that improve eating habits and overall health!
- Drink Plenty of Water
Nearly 70 percent of the human body is made of water. Water is absolutely necessary for survival, and the human body can only function for a few days without it. Water is critical to each and every body process. The brain, kidneys, gut, and skin are just a few organ systems that cannot function at all without water.
Not to mention minor ailments like constipation and headache that can be relieved simply by drinking water. A generous goal is to drink half of your body weight in water each day. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, aim to drink 80 ounces of water every day.
- Eat Breakfast
Because the body has not received any calories since dinner the night before, the first meal of the day has an especially strong impact on your metabolism and blood sugar. Eating within 2 hours of waking helps set the stage for stable blood sugar all day.
What you eat is just as important as when you eat. Your breakfast should contain a balance of protein, good fats, and fiber. Instead of that doughnut with your coffee, try a Smoked Bacon and Asparagus Popover or swap that bowl of sugary cereal for a bowl of steel-cut oats with fresh berries.
- Eat Small Meals throughout the Day
This strategy regulates blood sugar, prevents excess hunger, and provides the body with consistent energy. Listen to your body, it will tell you when you need to eat. Some people are ravenous first thing in the morning, and after eating a large breakfast may not need a snack before lunch. Others may eat something small when they wake up, and need a little boost mid-morning. It’s important to choose a snack that will give you the energy you need without spiking your blood sugar. If a handful of almonds isn’t enough, try apple slices over cottage cheese with a sprinkle of cinnamon. (When it comes to yogurt and cottage cheese, be sure to choose the full-fat versions to increase the good fats and decrease the sugar.)
- Close the Kitchen after Dinner
Dinner at 6 PM, then a bedtime snack at 10 PM… sound familiar? Snacking after dinner can have a huge impact on blood sugar, body weight, and health in general. By making sure your evening meal has the right nutrients, you can help eliminate nighttime snacking. If all you eat for dinner is a small salad, of course you are going to want that PB & J with a glass of milk before bed! A meal that is high in protein, good fats, and fiber will keep you feeling fuller for longer. Combine the ingredients in a way that is delicious and satisfying. Try this cauliflower fried rice!
- Plan Your Meals
The Huffington Post found that by planning all meals for one week, you benefit in several ways. Firstly, you know exactly which recipes you are going to prepare and when, which saves the stress of putting together a meal on the fly. You save time by making one trip to the grocery store instead of multiple trips for an item or two here and there. Thirdly, you save money because you are only buying the ingredients that you need. You are also helping to reduce food waste because everything you buy has a specific purpose. Lastly, you save your health by cooking real food at home rather than getting dinner from a drive-thru or ordering delivery.
- Know How Food Affects the Body
Be mindful of the foods you are eating, and of the ways in which they can affect your blood sugar and general health. For example, natural sugars, like those found in fruits are easier for diabetics to digest because most fruits also contain fiber and antioxidants. These additional nutrients help the sugar to digest more slowly, reducing the effect on blood sugar. Apples have this affect, and help to reduce the risk of heart disease. Blueberries are a great source of vitamins and soluble fiber. Refined sugars, however, like those found in processed foods, are digested very quickly, and can cause blood sugar to skyrocket.
- Focus on Nutritious Foods
Healthy individuals tend to eat mainly whole, unprocessed foods. It makes sense if you think about it; fresh, clean foods do far more good for the body than processed and packaged foods do. Instead of counting calories, focus on making the right food choices and enjoying them in appropriate portions, and the calories will take care of themselves. For more info on getting the most nutrition out of what you eat, check out this post from 100 Days of Real Food.
- Don’t Keep Unhealthy Foods in the House
Give your will power a boost and do yourself a favor by not keeping tempting foods in the house. If you know that each night you crave ice cream before bed, don’t keep ice cream stocked in your freezer! If salty potato chips are your Achilles Heel, don’t buy them! If something is in your fridge or pantry, you are more likely to eat it than if you had to get up, put your shoes on, find your car keys, and drive to the store to buy it.
- Enjoy Those “Treat” Foods in Moderation
If you tell yourself that you can never have a doughnut again, in 3 days you’ll be in line at Krispy Kreme to buy a dozen. Give yourself permission to enjoy your favorite treats on occasion, and you’ll find yourself far less distracted by them.
- Have a Game Plan for Eating Out
You and some friends are meeting for dinner and drinks tomorrow night at the restaurant down the street. Look up the restaurant menu online and choose which entrée you will be having before you even get there. This gives you the ability to make a better decision without smelling or seeing all of the tempting options. For cocktail hour, choose a glass of heart-healthy red wine. Steer clear of fried entrees, and order your protein broiled, steamed, or poached. For sides, choose a salad with vinaigrette dressing, or fresh seasonal vegetables over French fries or a baked potato.
Don’t be afraid to speak up, make substitutions and special requests if you need to. Your health is in your hands!