The weight-loss landscape is changing. No longer are fad diets as attractive as a healthy lifestyle of balance through eating healthy, moderate exercise and mental wellbeing. Eating healthy contributes to weight loss, bolsters your body’s immunity against disease, and even enhances your mood and overall wellbeing.
While that sounds great, eating healthy works best if it can be worked into our busy schedules and habits. Here are 10 simple ways to weave healthy eating habits into your life.
1. Swap processed food for fresh food
When you’re tired, it’s easy to reach for that can of soup for a quick fix. However, processed foods include unnecessary ingredients like sugars, “unhealthy” fats , high sodium content and preservatives making them high energy, high calorie meals that pack on the pounds. Whole, fresh foods give your body nutrients without the high caloric baggage.
Start with 2-3 cooked meals a week to get in the groove and always keep a few veggies and fresh meats around for healthy alternatives to canned foods.
- Grocery Tip: Replace processed foods with healthier substitutes when you’re grocery shopping. Shop around the perimeter of the grocery store (where all the fresh foods are) and avoid the aisles (with processed foods) as much as possible.
- Cooking Tip: Bookmark some quick-and-easy recipes for inspiration so you’re not struggling to figure it out when you’re famished after a long day.
“My two rules of cooking: keep it fresh and keep it simple” – chef Mike Isabella
2. Eat a high-protein breakfast
Starting the day with carbs (like bread, potatoes, pancakes) may give you an instant energy boost but beware of that inevitable sugar crash that makes you want to eat more as the day wears on. A breakfast that’s rich in proteins (like eggs) on the other hand maintains your insulin level so you burn sugar slowly for a stable energy output throughout your day. You’ll feel satiated and won’t be reaching for unhealthy snacks as much.
Baked, scrambled, boiled, poached or so many other interesting ways, eggs are a great way to get your protein for the day. If you’re in a rush, you can always consider a quick Greek yogurt parfait or low fat cheeses.
Quick Parfait Recipe
- In a to-go container (or cup), mix 1/2 cup Greek yogurt with a couple of drops of vanilla essence
- Layer with berries (strawberries, blueberries and any other you might have)
- Add a layer of granola with a couple of nuts or raisins and you have a delicious parfait-to-go
3. Eat smaller portions more often
“I believe in eating smaller meals more often throughout the day to keep the metabolism going.” – chef Todd English
This one is all about energy management. When you eat a large meal, your digestive system is overburdened leading to bloating. Your body is further conditioned to store energy as fat. Plus you’ll be craving more sugar.
So eat smaller portions more often.
Lunch tip: Break your lunch into two parts. Perhaps eat a piece of the sandwich and finish it 2 hours later.
Dinner tip: Break it up. Eat a small dinner early and snack on yogurt or fruit with cereal a couple of hours later.
4. Eat smart – Make healthy substitutions
Heating healthy should never mean having to give up eating what you like. If that were the case, it would be a difficult habit to cultivate. Make healthy substitutions where you can instead.
Healthy substitution tips
- Swap mayo out for mustard
- Swap a side of fries out for a side of veggies. Spice them up with a bit of lemon, salt and pepper.
- Move from frying your food to broiling, grilling or baking
- Swap white bread out for whole grain bread
- Swap ground meats out for leaner options , better yet – fish or white meats
5. Get your vitamin D
Whether it’s our collective lifestyle or the choice of foods, the number of people with vitamin D deficiency has been growing. Vitamin D balances your hunger hormones (insulin and gherlin) and boosts your happy hormone (seratonin) with the combined effect of reducing those sugar cravings and keeping you from reaching out for unhealthy snacks. So get more vitamin D in your body.
Vitamin D sources
- Even 30 minutes of time in the sun everyday can help boost vitamin D levels
- Fatty fish (salmon, trout, tuna, mackerel) is high in vitamin D so include fish in your food weekly
- Vegan? Then make mushrooms a staple at home especially Portobello, or try fortified juices or suppliments
6. Snack healthy too
It’s unreasonable to stop snacking entirely. So snack healthy. Instead of reaching out for fried or processed sugary snacks, make yourself a delicious snack treat with tasty fruit and nuts and maybe even a little granola. Make this the night before and pre-pack it so you don’t forget it in your morning rush.
Healthy snack pack recipe
- Nuts: 1/4 cup almonds, 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- Fruit: 1/4 cup dried raisins, 1/4 cup berries (cranberries, blue berries strawberries)
- Toss mix and put away. Amp it up with 1/2 a fresh cut banana when you’re snacking
7. Make healthy taste good!
We often associate healthy with tasteless and boring. And we couldn’t be more wrong. There are so many ways to flavour healthy foods so they leave you wanting more. Think spices, peppers and garnishes. Keep a few spices around and you can make any healthy meal taste good.
- Toss in some cumin, paprika and turmeric when sautéing a couple of veggies to add flavour
- Consider basting fish with garlic, lemon juice and hot pepper like Habanero
- Garnish your stews with chopped cilantro
- Amp up those vegetable soups with a touch of lemon or orange zest
- Not adventurous enough? Try one of these yummy curries and you will be looking forward to eating healthy every day!
8. Eat all the colours of the rainbow – Veggies
Vegetables are good but getting a full palette of veggies of all colours is even better. Aside from vitamins, minerals and fiber veggies also give your body phytonutrients to naturally reduce those cravings for unhealthy foods. If veggies are not part of your regular diet, then make small changes slowly. Start be including a veggies in a side or salad. Or make one meal a veggie meal. Try a different veggie every day or even every other day.
Cooking tip: Salads are the easiest way to get your veggies and cost very little prep time. Toss your veggies and try healthy salad dressing options to keep the taste without the calories. If salads are not for you, then try these delicious alternatives.
9. Drink lots of water during your meal
Drinking water with your meal will help with weight loss because it replaces sugary high-caloric drinks like soda or juice. Secondly, drinking a couple of glasses of water during your meals will help you from over eating. It’s an appetite suppressant. Water fills you up faster and keeps you from reaching for a second or third serving. So drink up and see the difference.
10. Get some sleep
Yes, you heard that right. How does sleep help you eat healthy? Actually, sleeping keeps you from eating unhealthy foods. Getting less that 7-8 hours of sleep a day can increase your sugar cravings. You’ll snack more and snack unhealthy. Sleep deprivation also slows down your body’s metabolism and causes you to burn less energy and store more fat. Sleeping is a healthy habit. Never feel guilty and get that much needed sleep for good health!
The main takeaway here is that there are many ways in which you can tweak your habits to start eating healthy. Start slow and change one thing at a time. You won’t see changes overnight but keep it up and you will start to notice that these healthy habits lead to a healthier body and a happier you.
Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com