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If You Want to Eat Healthier, You Should Follow This 7-Step Plan

If You Want to Eat Healthier, You Should Follow This 7-Step Plan

Mention healthy eating and there are images of green concoctions and complex recipes swirling in your head. It doesn’t have to be so hard and dull. Let’s break down the simplicity of achieving the balanced diet you want and need.

1. Clean out your kitchen cupboards

That stash of candy and bag of chips have to go. Anything with more than three artificial ingredients, heavily processed foods, anything that contains high amounts of sugar or sodium should be thrown out. Say goodbye to microwavable and packaged meals. Once you’re done cleaning your fridge and emptying your cupboard, check your pockets and bags. Perhaps there are snacks and candy, hidden or forgotten, that need be to chucked as well. Out of sight, out of mouth.

Choosing stems from having options so put yourself in the clear to ensure you’re making smarter choices.

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2. Buy a water filter or a portable container

You’re probably sick of hearing this but it’s worth repeating. Your body needs water, your organs, your brain, your mouth, your stomach. Consider it electricity for the body. Every healthy, balanced diet starts with a proper amount of hydration. Aim for at least one liter of water a day, not including water from the foods you eat.

Having a water mug or container keeps you remain mindful of your required daily intake while a water filter saves you money as it limits the usage of plastic water bottles.

3. Learn the basics on Nutrition Facts

Those nutritional tables you see on the sides and back of nearly everything possess a lot of crucial information. It’s important to know the nutritional value of food. This will help you choose foods that effectively nourish your body with crucial, core nutrients. The Nutrition Facts table should inform you of calories, core nutrients (fat, sodium, protein, fibre..) and the daily value (%DV) of nutrients based on the amount of food. Knowing this will enable you to compare products in order to make better choices and will allow you to choose better products more easily, over time.

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Not all foods have nutrition tables (fruits, meats, alcohol, bread); however discerning which items are healthy for you should be fairly easy.

4. Set a food budget

So the kitchen’s de-cluttered from unhealthy options, you’re drinking like a newborn fish to stay hydrated and avoid overeating, and you actually understand what those digits mean on the nutrition label. You’re on a roll and ready to buy super foods, anti-oxidant fruits and enough lemons to start your own grove.

But before you set out to the grocery store, excited to implement all these changes, do your wallet a favor and set a number for food purchases on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis. This will prevent you from overspending, which we sometimes do to compensate for other cravings, and avoid you from being overwhelmed with too many options.

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5. Make a grocery list

This is the fun part. Budgets and lists are conjoined at the sexy hip of financial management and awareness. Try to diversify your shopping lists to include at least one item from the food pyramid. Stock up on fruits, vegetables and filling items like sweet potatoes, beans and nuts. If you have a sweet tooth, load up on sweet seasonal fruits like apples, mangos, kiwis and grapes. If chips are your weakness, try pistachios instead.

I asked a few friends for reasons why they resort to fast food and the most prevalent response was convenience. Jot down a few easy-to-make meals or go-to recipes to avoid that pitfall. My lazy dinners often involve a baked sweet potato (loaded with vitamin A), a fried egg (protein) and homemade tomato sauce I make in abundance prior to the week.

6. Get creative

Healthy eating boasts many benefits from noticeable energy increase to better moods and easier weight management. However as the day wears on or as you begin to settle into this new change, you might feel tempted to resort back to comfort foods.

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It’s crucial to find a healthy medium between the foods you love and the foods your body needs. Find healthier substitutes for foods you cannot live without. If you despise drinking water all day, buy de-caffeinated green tea or hoard sliced watermelons, cucumbers and carrots. If ice cream is your guilty treat, reduce the amount of times you indulge and consider replacing your daily scoop with a bowl of unsweetened yogurt with sweet and crunchy granola bits. Next time you need something quick between meals, reach for natural oatmeal and slices of actual fruit (bananas, peaches and berries).

I cannot function without my daily dose of dark chocolate and on days where my sugar cravings are out of control, I reach for mango and peach smoothie popsicles.

7. Be patient

Don’t beat yourself up for the occasional slip. It’s okay to make mistakes as they help you adjust to what fits your lifestyle and discover what doesn’t work for you. Incremental changes in the betterment of your diet can be enjoyable, if you stay patient and curious. Sometimes persistent cravings despite all your efforts are signs of a nutrient deficiency. Do a little research.

Healthy eating is not about depriving yourself of the things you enjoy, it’s about finding the balance between the things you love to eat and the food your body needs to function at its best. Continue on that journey to find that balance for yourself.

Featured photo credit: Bruce Tuten via flickr.com

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Jolie Adam

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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