The way to achieving success in adopting a healthier attitude toward eating is by taking small, manageable steps. Make a few, small changes to your diet and eating habits when you’re first starting, such as eating an apple for a snack once a day or having oatmeal for breakfast two or three times a week instead of your usual unhealthy fare. Keep adding to these small and healthy changes every day or every week. Soon, they will replace your old habits and add up to a healthier you.
Stick to the Basics
Here are simple steps you can take toward becoming healthier:
Drink lots of water. Drinking water helps stave off hunger and when you’re less hungry, it’s easier to make healthier choices. Keeping yourself adequately hydrated also helps your body flush out toxins and keeps you energized throughout the day.
Cook your own meals as much as possible. This is the best way to ensure that what goes into your food are healthy ingredients. Prepare breakfast and/or dinner yourself a few times a week, to start with, instead of eating take-out food.
Don’t skip breakfast. Eating a healthy breakfast will keep your energy levels high throughout the day, and keep you off of unhealthy quickie snacks and fast foods.
Go for color. The more color you have on your plate, the healthier you are eating. By color, we mean fruits and vegetables, of course! Adding more color to your plate is easier than counting calories. Add more fruit and vegetable items to your shopping cart each time you make a trip to the supermarket.
Add more fiber to your diet. Fiber will keep you feeling fuller longer and help you lose weight; it also helps maintain a healthy digestive system. Eating more fiber can prevent diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. Great sources of fiber include whole grains, wheat cereals, barley, oatmeal, beans, nuts; fruits such as apples, pears, berries, and citrus fruits; and vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots, and celery.
Keep your bones healthy with calcium. Dairy is not your only choice when you want to maintain good bone health. Beans and vegetables such as kale, romaine lettuce, celery, broccoli, fennel, cabbage, summer squash, green beans, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus are great sources of calcium.
Ask your doctor about how much protein you need. And be smart with your choices of protein sources. Choose whole/single-source complete protein, as much as possible.
Eat more fish.
Make a habit of reading food labels when you do your groceries. Watch out for unhealthy ingredients. Slowly wean yourself off of unhealthy food items each week, and replace them with healthier options.
Learn more about healthier replacements. Opt for healthier grains, fats, and carbohydrates, as well as healthier ways of cooking your meals.
Cut down on sweets. Whether you just need to satisfy your sweet tooth or you need a boost of energy, there are many other foods that are just as delicious but healthier that will give you the same sweet satisfaction or energy boost. Peanut butter, fresh fruits and fruit juices, and honey are delicious treats that are also healthier sugar substitutes. Stay away from sugar-free/lite/low-sugar items, because these products contain artificial, sugar substitutes that are often more harmful than the real thing. And always keep an eye out for added sugars on food labels.
Reduce your salt intake. Slowly but surely reduce your consumption of processed foods, which are often loaded with sodium. When cooking, use herbs and spices in place of salt to add flavor to your dishes. When eating out, you can request that your meal/dish be prepared with very little or no salt. Eventually, your taste buds will have a lower tolerance for salty foods.
Reduce your alcohol intake. If you must, choose drinks that also offer health benefits, such as wine and brandy. Drink in moderation.
Eat slowly. Savor every bite. This technique will also make you feel full more quickly. Stop eating when you feel full; even better, stop eating one or two bites before you feel full. You will feel sated after a few minutes.
Don’t deprive yourself. You don’t have to completely stay away from some of your sinful indulgences, especially if your health has already improved. You can still indulge once in a while, just remember to do it in moderation and to detoxify afterward. Consult a HOMA family medicine physician and discuss ways on how you can effectively maintain a healthy weight.