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10 Amazing Tips On How To Eat Healthy

10 Amazing Tips On How To Eat Healthy

Learning how to eat healthy is something many people are interested in but also something that all of us have been frustrated with at some point in our lives. I’m sure you’ve wanted to throw your hands up at some point, and who could blame you? With all the advice out there surrounding dieting and learning how to eat healthy, it’s inevitable that we end up confused at some point or ready to give up. However, when it comes to eating healthy, sometimes we need to take a step back from the diet books, trends, and just keep some basic principles in mind. We also need to remember why eating healthy is important in the first place.

Why Healthy Eating is Important

A healthy diet filled with real food can mean better blood sugar levels, a longer life, better focus, less risk for disease, a healthier heart, better digestion, and a naturally healthy weight that we don’t always have to feel the need to manage. However, the term healthy eating means many different things to just about everyone and not one set meal plan will work for every single individual out there.

I’m a nutritionist who has experimented with a variety of diets, studied nutrition for over 10 years, and worked with clients from across the country. Here are 10 Amazing Tips on How to Eat Healthy that I advise to everyone I know and practice myself on a daily basis:

1. Always Start With Fresh Food

Fresh foods and produce should be a part of every single meal you eat. Going all day and subsisting on diet bars, shakes, fast food, and caffeine will set you up for nutritional deficiencies and leave you unsatisfied.  Select one, two, three or more produce items to add to each meal you eat, and remember that vegetables, greens, and fruits contain vitamins and minerals that other foods don’t offer. They also help hydrate us and satisfy us despite that they’re low in calories.

Experiment with different produce options at each meal to see which ones you enjoy the most, and don’t be afraid to try new things!

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2. Listen to Your Hunger

This may sound obvious, but most people miss this key part of the puzzle. If you’re hungry, eat. If not, don’t eat. While you should not go over 5 hours during the day without eating when you have a busy schedule, if you’re not hungry when you first wake up, wait until your body tells you it’s ready to eat. Have lunch at the time your body tells you it needs some mid-day fuel. Come dinnertime, don’t feel as though you need a huge meal to unwind after a long day or feel as though you need to restrict portions if you’re a little hungrier than others some nights.

Fill your plates with fresh foods and listen to your body’s hunger signals. This is one of the most important parts of maintaining a healthy mindset around food, relationship with your body, and a healthy metabolism for life.

3. View Food as More Than Calories

There are plenty of low-calorie diet items you can buy at the store these days, but packaged diet foods are not the key to living and eating healthy. Yes, calories do matter and just because quality calories are better than processed calories, it doesn’t mean you can overeat and stuff yourself. However, food is more than calories, and it’s ten times better to eat 200 calories from fresh foods and clean sources of protein than it is to eat a 100 calorie snack pack for lunch.

Give your body real food and learn to view food as more than calories. If you’re listening to your hunger signals, everything else will eventually take care of itself.

4. Remember the Importance of Blood Sugar

Your blood sugar can make or break your health. Refined carbohydrates like refined grains and all added sugars can spike blood sugar levels and lead to health issues like Type 2 diabetes or weight gain. When you eat each meal, keep your blood sugar in mind. Insulin spikes when we eat, and to keep insulin working properly, we need a balanced intake of lean protein, fiber, and some healthy fats. Think veggies, greens, lean protein, and moderate intake of fruits and healthy fats. If you tolerate grains, always go for whole grains like oats or quinoa for optimal blood sugar levels since they digest more slowly than processed carbs like bread or cereal.

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Here are 10 powerful foods that are great for blood sugar levels.

5. Skip Sugar

Many people believe that sugar is harmless, however, I’m not one of those people. Refined sugar—and even many natural, added sugars—usually lead to overeating as well as blood sugar issues. They also age the skin and trigger overeating or more sugar cravings. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your birthday cake or dessert on Thanksgiving, it just means that sugar in most all forms should not be a part of your healthy eating routine.

Throw out the packaged foods with added sugar and learn to read labels. There are over 57 hidden names for sugar that can appear on a label, so once again, fresh food is always the best choice when planning your meals. Natural sugars from fruit are fine in moderation, and if you need some sweetener for your coffee or desserts, try liquid stevia which is more natural than artificial sweeteners and free of calories.

6. Remember Fat is Not the Enemy

Dietary fat is something that most of us have been confused about. I’ve eaten a low-fat diet and a high-fat diet and neither felt so great in my body, however, I know many people that thrive on both styles of eating. No matter what way works for you, we need to remember that fat is not the enemy. Fat can satiate the body, keep the hair and skin healthy, and it also boosts mood and energy when we eat it in the proper amounts for our body. We don’t need to eat a stick of butter a day or tons of coconut oil to get enough fat, but we do need some sources of fat in our diets to thrive.

Focus on adding a little fat to each meal and see how you feel. Many healthy foods like wild salmon, avocado and eggs have fats as do sources such as flax, chia, hemp and a variety of nuts and seeds. My personal favorite sources of healthy fats are raw coconut butter, ground flax, and the occasional local egg. See which ones work for you, and don’t fear fat—it can be your friend!

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7. Keep it Simple

One thing that really helps most people I work with as well as me personally is to keep things simple. There’s no need to eat a different meal every single night or feel the need to spend an hour preparing it. Keep your meals simple and stick to the lean protein, fresh produce (veggies, greens, and fruit), and healthy fats at each meal. Experiment with whole grains and legumes as well which can be healthy options if your body tolerates them. Rotate your favorite meals through the week, and take advantage of kitchen appliances like a blender and slow cooker for quick meals and easy meal prep each day.

Remember, real food can be simple and quick to prepare. Don’t overcomplicate things!

8. Eat Mostly From Your Fridge

A pantry can be your best friend for storing canned items and some others like whole grains or herbs and spices, however, most people eat out of their pantry and their fridge is always bare. Your fridge should be what you eat from the most, but this doesn’t mean you should fill the fridge with processed foods or fill the freezer with frozen pizza.

Focus on filling the fridge with fresh foods, not reaching in the pantry when you’re ready to eat each meal. Skip the cereal, bars, and processed options which all usually have added sodium, processed fats, and added sugar. Ready-made foods are not as nutritionally dense as fresh foods are, so attempt to quit reaching for them every time you’re hungry. When it comes to condiments, they can be fine to add to fresh meals to make things more interesting. Just be mindful of the sodium, fat and sugar content in each one you buy. Some good options include mustard, hot sauce, no salt seasonings, and apple cider vinegar.

9. Purge the Pantry

Speaking of the pantry, do a little pantry purge. Make it a goal to only have whole foods in your pantry such as canned tomatoes, beans, lentils, whole grains, herbs and spices, and maybe some jars of nut butter (refrigerate after opening). Get rid of the chips, canned soups and sugary cereals, and donate those or throw them out. You’ll feel so much better without them in your life! Remember that processed foods are not the key to eating healthy. While they’re fine on occasion, they aren’t the solution to long-term health.

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10. Remember that One Size Doesn’t Fit All

One of the best pieces of advice I can give to anyone is to remember that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to health and what diets work best. All of us would benefit by eating less processed foods, eating as many plants as possible, eating a variety of nutrients at each meal, and being mindful of where we get our protein. However, after that, we need to remember that what works wonderfully for our parents, significant other, or best friend may not work for us. Just because someone you know thrives on one style of eating doesn’t mean that you will.

At the end of the day, our individual hormones, current health issues, our activity levels, gut health, sleep habits, and stress levels all affect our health just as much as food. Many of us will need more of certain foods while others will need to eat completely different diets. One size doesn’t fit all in the jeans department or the food department. Keep that in mind, choose real food, and do the best you can.

For more tips on how to eat healthy, here are 20 foods you can fill your fridge up to help you get started, and here are some tips for eating healthy on a budget.

Featured photo credit: Tella Chen/Flickr via flic.kr

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • They rile up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

The Bottom Line

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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