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Last Updated on December 3, 2020

15 Quick Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle

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15 Quick Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle

That person seems to have it all. You hate to admit it, but their effortless fitness and healthy life drive you mad all year round! What do they have that you don’t? You’ve tried the diets. You’ve done the workouts, what gives?

But what if you could BECOME that person too?

Don’t believe that’s possible? Let me explain.

I have always been an all or nothing type of person. There was one year where I drank something made entirely out of veggies for dinner for a month – a month! You heard me: I’m talking about a puke-worthy smoothie made entirely of spinach, kale, broccoli, and spinach. Gross.

After a while, I began to realize something extremely pivotal to my fitness journey: being all or nothing doesn’t work with having a healthy life.

Our bodies are delicate! Too few calories and too many workouts will literally spike cortisol and prevent you from losing weight. Too many calories and too few workouts and well, we’ve all been there.

So what am I getting at?

My point is that there are several secrets that these seemingly effortless fit people incorporate, knowingly or not, that greatly contribute to their health and wellness. The good news is, you can incorporate those things too!

Adding these “secret formulas” into my life is what helped me start losing weight, live a healthy life, and stop running myself purposely into the ground.

Curious what those things are? You’re in luck because as it happens, that is exactly what I’m about to show you!

1. Make It Fit Your Lifestyle!

This one I can’t stress enough!! If you find healthy food to fit into your lifestyle, you’re already a step ahead of the rest.

The key to getting fit effortlessly is to make it fit your lifestyle in a way you LOVE!! If you enjoy it and it’s easy, you’ll find yourself reaching your goals without even realizing it.

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2. Eat Foods High in Volume and Low in Calories

The technical term is food low in caloric density, but being the casual type of person I am, we’re going to stick to my term. So, what does this mean? It means eating foods that are low in calories but extremely filling.

Think veggies for instance. You could eat a massive pile of veggies and likely consume no more than a couple of hundred calories. This is where you can get creative! You can switch noodles out for protein noodles or veggie noodles. You can swap wraps for cauliflower wraps or a lettuce wrap.

You can essentially still enjoy all your favorite foods and still live a remarkably healthy life! Want to hear one of my favorite tricks?

3. Jello!

This one plays into my “low density” trick. One of my greatest secrets is actually Jello! It’s high in amino acids, extremely low in calories, and by replacing sugar with stevia, you’ll feel like your indulging for hardly any calories at all! Who knew?

4. Vacuum

This one is for anyone looking for a tight and sucked in stomach (“sucked in,” see what I did there?).

The Vacuum is an exercise you can incorporate anywhere. You simply pull your belly button towards your spine for a minute. Hold, and release.

This is one you can do while driving, sitting at work, or doing chores, so it’s completely effortless. It’s a secret that bodybuilders and bikini competitors used to use for that pulled in stomach.

5. Go Cold Turkey With Sugar

I know this might not seem effortless, and it’s not. But once it’s taken care of, life becomes a whole lot more simple.

According to an article by HealthLine, sugar is more addictive than cocaine.[1] And I believe it.

Sugar becomes an entirely different barrier for this reason. While most foods you can absolutely enjoy in moderation, a little sugar with sugar addiction can trigger poor habits. If you’ve found that it’s impossible to slowly cut out sugar and it’s constantly causing you to rebound, cutting it out entirely might be the way to go!

But here’s the good news – and I’m speaking from experience – once you get over the initial detox symptoms you’re cravings will nearly disappear. This will make choosing a healthy life far easier in the long run!

Speaking of run, I know you’re curious to hear more about workouts!

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6. Incorporate HIIT

You’ve probably already heard of HIIT by now. It stands for high-intensity interval training and is the key to short and powerful workouts. It boosts something called Excessive Post Oxygen Consumption (EPOC), which basically keeps you burning calories throughout the whole day![2])

These workouts are insanely powerful at getting results and hardly take any time. The key is when you are in a “working zone”, you’ve got to work it hard!

Be prepared, because on this next one I’m going to take a swing to the opposite side of the spectrum.

7. Low Stress

I bet you didn’t expect to see stress as part of this article at all. However, it is extremely important if you want to have a healthy life.

Some people think that the reason stress is detrimental is because it triggers overeating. But that’s only a small picture of the truth. There is so much more to fitness than “calorie in vs calorie out” like many would like to believe.

In truth, hormones that control our metabolism can play a major role. As this article from Medicinenet suggests, it can be extremely difficult to stay in shape with high cortisol[3], and I can attest to that!

Remember that season of drinking veggie smoothies I told you about? Yeah, that was accompanied by brutal runs and workouts. Let me tell you this. I didn’t lose a single pound.

Do you know when I did? I just started relaxing and enjoying a healthy and active lifestyle! “Work smarter, not harder” applies just as much to fitness as to any other area of life.

8. Leave Your Workout Clothes by Your Bed

I love to start the day with movement! And this is important in having a healthy life.

Sometimes I go to the gym or do yoga, while other days it’s a brisk walk with my favorite podcast. Either way, the best way to get your mind prepped is by setting up your workout clothes right by your bed for the morning.

It’s far easier to resist the urge to hit snooze when all of yesterday’s intentions are literally staring you in the face. Another trick is to keep an inspiring photo by your bed for a quick glint of morning inspiration.

Whether your goal is to be more energetic for your kids, get ready for an event, or just to prove to yourself that you can, waking yourself up with a dose of purpose will get you eager to make those goals a reality.

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9. Don’t Starve

I’m sure you’re glad to hear that! I’m sure you’ve heard before that crash diets don’t work. And that’s true, partially for the reason I mentioned above.

Your cortisol levels (the stress hormone) will spike whenever your body is stressed. That means if you are overworking and undereating, your body will stop losing weight.[4]

Another reason is that while most people will lose weight initially, a good portion of what is lost is muscles, which is responsible for burning more calories. That’s why many people find themselves gaining back the weight and then some, after a diet.

One of the most important things that people forget to do is fuel themselves for workouts. It’s ideal to eat some simple carbs before a workout, like a piece of fruit, to give you a rush of carbs that you can instantly burn into energy. After that, you’ll want to follow up with at least 30 grams of protein and 30 grams of carbs to replenish.

I know you might be thinking “what about all my hard work burning those calories off?” Trust me, the after-burn effect will still be working for you, and those nutrients are essential for keeping your metabolism up and your cortisol low!

But if you want to know how to eat what you want, then you’ll love the one below!

10. Intermittent Fasting

How does this come into play when I just mentioned you shouldn’t starve yourself? Well, Intermittent fasting has nothing to do with starving yourself! It simply has to do with eating within a certain time frame.

The one thing to note here is that regular intermittent fasting might not be ideal if you are a woman.[5] There are several hormones to keep in mind regarding gender. However, for the most part, fasting can be extremely effective.

11. Eat off of a Small Blue Plate

This one sounds crazy, but it’s scientifically proven. First off, our minds can find it hard to resist food sitting in front of us. In other words, if we have a large plate full of food, we’re more likely to eat it all until it’s done.

But what does the “Blue” have to do with anything?

The color blue is actually scientifically proven to be an appetite suppressant. Essentially, eating off of a blue plate will help reduce your cravings and make you feel satisfied much sooner!

12. Be Social

Want accountability? It might not be much farther than your phone. Hop on the social media bandwagon and get people rooting for your goals.

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There are dozens of platforms where you can reach your goals with other people just like you. Hearing their inspiration or having them hold you accountable can be a gamechanger! Of course, you can always find a workout buddy as well.

However, the key is to find someone who has already proven themselves consistent and accountable to their goals. I’ve seen too many friend groups come to the gym only to give up a couple of weeks later. It can be too hard to reach a resolution if your accountability is too flaky.

13. Drink a TON of Water!

This is probably one of the most important keys to having a healthy life. I mean it! If you drink a lot of water, I can almost guarantee you will see crazy results! Add some tea bags or fruit to flavor it, use lemon and stevia to make lemonade, or just guzzle it plain!

The best trick is to ALWAYS have a water bottle with you and ALWAYS be sipping. I tell my clients to get one with a straw attached. It’s easier to just sip from a straw then risk dumping water from an open-top bottle all over you!

One quick note though, don’t buy the “flavored water” trend. Contrary to popular belief, most sugar substitutes will actually make you gain weight. The only ones I truly trust are stevia and monk fruit, and even those I only use in moderation.

14. What Are You REALLY Craving?

Sometimes, a craving might be your body telling you something! Our bodies are brilliant, and our cravings can often just be a sign that we are missing something important.

Often, people who crave chocolate are just low in magnesium. A constant need for red meat might mean low iron. Sugar cravings could very likely just be a blood-sugar response signaling a need for more protein and healthy fats in your diet.[6]

If you have specific cravings, then you might benefit from taking a look at the root cause of them. Don’t ignore it when your body is trying to get your attention, but don’t give in to its first reaction either.

Discover what your body truly needs, and fix the problem, not the symptom.

15. Enjoy the Journey

I’m going to end very similarly to how I started. Find enjoyment in a healthy and active lifestyle, and you will get to your goals! It’s okay if you don’t like salads or running.

Find something that works for you! Burning calories in a fun way and eating meals that remind you of your favorites will be a gamechanger for you! Make “copycat” recipes your best friend so you can enjoy those indulgences healthily. And don’t freak out about the destination.

If you are consistent with the process, I promise you will reach your goals in no time.

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Final Thoughts

There you have it, 15 quick tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Some of them might be easier for you than the others, but the key is for you to be focused and determined in living a healthy life.

More Tips for a Healthy Life

Featured photo credit: NordWood Themes via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Katelyn Delaney

Owner of Revifi -- Fitness Training & Life Coaching

How to Find Weight Loss Meal Plans That Work for You 8 Weight Loss Tracker and Exercise Apps for Your Fitness Goals 20 Easy Smoothie Recipes for Weight Loss 20 Delicious and Healthy Breakfast for Weight Loss how to start exercising How to Start Exercising Right Now (And Stick to It)

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Published on August 24, 2021

What Is a Whole Food Diet And Does It Really Work?

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What Is a Whole Food Diet And Does It Really Work?

I’ve been a dietitian now for a long time (more years than I care to mention), and if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that fad diets are best avoided. This is why I’m so pleased that whole food diets are being talked about more and more.

Rather than a “diet,” I prefer to think of a whole food diet as a way of life. Eating this way is balanced, and it is a great way to support your all-around body health and longevity. Plus, it’s delicious and—in my opinion—not limiting either, which is a massive bonus.

A well-balanced diet follows some fairly basic principles and, in essence, consists of plenty of the following:

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Lean protein
  • Nuts
  • Water

This is essentially all a whole food diet is. Unfortunately, there isn’t an accepted definition of the whole food diet, which means that there are some highly restrictive versions around and some involve principles to frame your diet around rather than strict rules.

Read on to learn more about the whole food diet as a framework for eating rather than a strict rule book of dos and don’ts that restricts your lifestyle.

What Is a Whole Food Diet?

By definition, a whole food diet consists of eating foods that are as close to their natural form as possible. It’s easy to get lost in a quagmire of organic, local, or pesticide-free, but a whole food diet is basically food in its most natural form. Obviously, spices can be ground and grains can be hulled, but you get the idea. You eat the whole food rather than what’s left after being refined or processed.

In other words, it involves a lot of cooking because whole foods do not involve anything processed. That means no premade sauces, dips, or convenience foods like chocolate bars, sweets, or ready-meals. It also includes things like tinned vegetables and white bread.

Why? Processed and convenience foods are often high in salt, saturated fat, and additives in comparison to anything homemade. Because of this, their toll on your overall health is higher.

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Can Other Diets Also Be Whole Food Diets?

Here’s where it gets confusing—yes, other diets can also be whole food diets. Eating a whole food diet is a lifestyle choice, but many other diets can exist within a whole foods construct. So, diets like the MIND Diet and Mediterranean Diet are also whole food diets.

For example, here are the foods involved in the MIND Diet:[1]

  • Green, leafy vegetables five times a week
  • Five or more different colored fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Berries five times a week
  • Five or more servings of nuts a week
  • Olive oil five times a week
  • Whole grains five times a week
  • Oily fish twice a week or take an algae-based omega-3 supplement
  • Legumes and pulses five times a week
  • White meat/mix of plant-based proteins twice a week
  • Vitamin D supplement
  • Minimally processed foods
  • No more than one glass of wine a day
  • One or two coffee or tea a day max
  • Two liters of water a day

That’s pretty much a whole food diet, right? As long as any meat or plant-based proteins are as unprocessed as possible, then it can be a whole food diet.

Other diets, like a vegan diet, for instance, could be whole food diets or not. It really depends if processed foods are included. Some food substitutes are really heavily processed, so it’s important to read labels really carefully. But it’s only some, not all.

And here’s where it gets woolly. If you don’t need to eliminate certain food groups for whatever reason—ethical, health, religion—then a whole food diet can be great. But if you do exclude certain foods, then it could be beneficial to include certain “processed” foods. This is to make sure that you don’t miss out on vital nutrients to keep you healthy.

Processed Foods That Are Okay on a Whole Food Diet

Many brands of cereals are fortified with B vitamins, which can be hard to come by on a plant-based diet.

For example, vitamin B12 (needed for maintaining a healthy nervous system, energy, and mood-regulation), is largely found in animal sources. It is something that those on a plant-based diet need to keep an eye on, as studies show that around 20% of us are deficient. And we also know that 65% of vegans and vegetarians don’t take a B vitamin supplement.[2]

So in that case, choosing a cereal fortified with B vitamins would be a good option, if done wisely. By that I mean use your discretion and check the labels, as many brands of cereals are packed with sugar and additives. But you can strategically choose minimally processed foods using a whole foods mentality.

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As a rule of thumb, if there are any ingredients that you can’t pronounce, don’t understand, or sound artificial, they probably are best avoided.

Benefits of a Whole Food Diet

In a 2014 analysis by Yale University, they concluded that “a diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention.”[3]

A diet rich in fruit and vegetables or other high-fiber foods like whole grains and nuts is really important in maintaining good long-term health and preventing health problems like diabetes and cancers. These kinds of foods also help our bodies to cope and control the effects of inflammation.

In fact, one review from 2019 stated that “diets high in plant foods could potentially prevent several million premature deaths each year if adopted globally.”[4] This is a big endorsement for a whole food diet.

Whole Foods and the Gut

Whole foods are loaded with fibers that are sometimes lost during processing or refinement. Fiber is essential for a healthy gut because aside from its traditional “roughage” reputation, it also feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut, providing a whole host of other benefits.

They also provide a lot of variety, which the gut loves. The more variety, the better. So, even though you might fall in love with certain recipes, it’s important to mix up the kinds of whole foods you eat to maintain a healthy gut. Aim for 30 different whole foods each week. It’s easier than you think!

Whole Foods and the Brain

The brain is a really hungry organ, and it uses 25% of the total energy you consume from your food. Everything it needs to function at its best is—you guessed it—a whole, unprocessed food.

In fact, the best diet recommended for brain health is the MIND Diet. In one study, it was shown that people who follow the MIND diet closely had a 53% reduced rate of developing Alzheimer’s.[5]

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Some of the best whole foods for the brain are:[6]

  • Oily fish
  • Nuts
  • Eggs
  • Berries
  • Broccoli
  • Whole grains

Is It Easy to Follow a Whole Food Diet?

Once you’ve got your head around having “ingredients” rather than “ready-to-eat” things in your kitchen cupboards, it’s actually very easy. The only issue is the lifestyle and habit changes that come along with it.

It is very likely that for many people, following a totally, religiously whole food diet may be unattainable at least some of the time. For example, there are days where you don’t get time to make your lunch or if you want to enjoy social eating. Similarly, people who have young children or who are working more than one job are unlikely to be able to follow a whole food diet all of the time.

Sometimes, we put ourselves under pressure to be as perfect as we can with diets like this, which can lead to an eating disorder called Orthorexia, which is a preoccupation with healthy eating.

This means that following a whole food diet, in principle, can be healthy and accessible for some people but not for everyone. It also means that those with previous disordered eating, as always, need to avoid any form of dietary restriction or rules around their diet.

Is a Whole Food Diet Boring?

Absolutely not! The beauty of this way of eating is that there are barely any recipes that are off-limits. If you can make it yourself using natural ingredients, then it counts. So, dig out your recipe books and get familiar with your spice cupboard.

Here’s my advice if you’re just starting: stock up on coconut milk and canned tomatoes. You’ll use them all the time in sauces.

Best Hacks for Sticking With a Whole Food Diet

Here are some tips to help you stick with a whole food diet and develop this lifestyle.

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1. Practice Batch Cooking

Especially in the beginning, if you’ve been used to eating more convenience-based or packaged foods, you’re likely to feel like you spend the majority of your life in the kitchen. So, I’d suggest getting your cookbooks out and planning around five things to make per week. If you make double, or even triple portions depending on your household, you’ll have enough quantity to last several meals.

For example, his could be homemade granola. Make it once, and that’s breakfast sorted for a week. Whole food diet ingredients like oats, quinoa, buckwheat, nuts, and seeds are all delicious, and great nutritional resources to keep you feeling full until lunchtime.

I also love to make big stews, sauces, and curries that can happily be reheated and added throughout the course of a few days.

2. Make Your Own Convenience Foods

Sticking to a new way of eating can be really difficult, especially for your willpower. So, it’s very important to make it as easy as possible for yourself.

Pre-chop. Pre-chop. Pre-chop.

If you’ve got a container of carrot sticks on hand or can happily munch on a few pieces of melon from the fridge, use those—it’s almost easier than grabbing something from a package. This can extend to your other vegetables, too. If you get your veg delivered or buy it from a market, choose a few things to slice after you wash them. That way, if you need a speedy lunch or a lazy dinner, it’ll be ready in minutes.

Ready to Try a Whole Food Diet?

If you’re looking to maximize your overall health, well-being, and vitality, I’d absolutely suggest a whole food diet. But, as with everything, it’s important to do what works for you and your own lifestyle.

Featured photo credit: Louis Hansel – Restaurant Photographer via unsplash.com

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Reference

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