Do you worry that your eating style or the foods you eat aren’t really as healthy as they seem? Are you concerned that your lifestyle and habits could be doing your body more harm than good? Every day we make food choices based on what we want, what we think we should eat, and even how busy we are. Instead of being confused as to what you may be doing wrong, here’s a look at 10 ways you can start eating healthier today.
Go Mediterranean style
A Mediterranean diet has a number of benefits for those who want to eat healthier. Some of the ingredients used in Mediterranean cooking include fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, beans, nuts, seeds and other plant-based foods. Red meat and dairy aren’t commonly consumed and even eggs are limited. The antioxidants in fruits and vegetables help lower the risks of heart disease and some cancers. Olive oil and fish are staples in Mediterranean cooking and each of them can help lower cholesterol and keep it low.
Utilize nature’s bounty
Everyone knows that mother knows best and when it comes to Mother Nature, she’s taken special attention to make sure we get the nutrients we need from whole foods. Think about the Pop Tart you ate yesterday morning; do you know where it came from? Odds are you don’t want to know but when compared with an apple, mango, beans, peppers or even eggs, you can easily identify where the food you’re eating came from. There’s nothing processed about a banana or a tomato, but can you say the same thing about the Pop Tart?
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Fewer ingredients means less processing
Stroll through the grocery isle and you’ll see oodles of boxes and packages claiming to be healthy for you. However, read the back of the box and there is where the truth really lies. Foods that have long lists of ingredients likely underwent a lot of processing in order to get it to the store. Compare some of the food labels the next time you’re shopping. What would you rather purchase; the item with fewer ingredients or the one with an ingredients list as long as this article?
Keep your mouth busy
Many dieters claim that they chew gum between meals because it gives their mouth something to do. The longer your mouth has to work, the less likely you are to be hungry. Crunchy snacks such as apples, celery, and nuts all provide a rewarding and fulfilling crunch whenever you take a bite. Your body relates the crunching and grinding up the foods with your mouth to feeling satisfied.
Don’t avoid the real thing
At times when we’re striving hard to maintain a healthy diet, we often reach for foods that are ‘diet’ specific, thinking that we will save calories, be healthier, or that the food is somehow better for us. Unfortunately, that way of thinking isn’t always correct. Some diet foods can leave you feeling less than satisfied and jilted both mentally and physically. Rather than deprive yourself of the fat-free or diet foods you’d typically buy, go ahead and have a serving of the real thing from time to time. You’ll be less likely to cheat later on down the line with your diet.
Dessert is not a beverage
The latest craze to hit store shelves is sweetened water. The advertising promises a great taste, vitamins and in some cases even an energy boost. The energy boost comes from the excessive amount of sugar added to give these drinks their fruity flavors. Other drinkable yogurts are also included in this craze and in many cases, show little, if any health benefits at all.
Convenience can be expensive
In an effort to save some time, we often buy our groceries on the fly. Meaning that, rather than make out a grocery list and shop smart, we either impulse buy or pick up the things we need at the nearest convenience store. Unfortunately, what we pay for in the expediency factor is often double what we would have paid if we had shopped at a supermarket or grocer.
Ban the ‘clean your plate’ club
For years children were taught to eat everything on their plate. Parents did this to keep from wasting food when times were lean and of course to ensure their children weren’t going to bed hungry. For many, the mentality that clearing an entire plate is compulsory has carried over into adult life. Listen to your body and stop eating when you begin to feel full, regardless of how much is left on your plate.
Preparation means education
Have you ever thought about what goes into your meals or what you’re truly eating? Instead of being a bystander to mealtime, pick up a knife, whisk, or blender and participate in preparing your food. The psychological benefits of making something on your own will be just as great as the physical benefits of eating your creations. You’ll also become more conscious about what you are putting in your body if you have a hand in preparing it.
Don’t stress it
Above all else, if you begin to stress about food and eating healthy, the odds of you messing up a healthy diet are greater. It’s the mental strain you put on yourself to achieve a healthy lifestyle and diet that can often do more harm than good. Be forgiving of yourself when it comes to sticking to your eating choices and don’t beat yourself up over the occasional slip-ups.
The better your attitude, and the more relaxed you are about maintaining a proper diet, the more likely you will be to succeed in your endeavors.
Recommended reading on eating choices
For more information and advice on eating choices, take a look at the following books:
Eat More, Weigh Less: Losing Weight Safely While Eating Abundantly
The Volumetrics Eating Plan: Techniques and Recipes for Feeling Full on Fewer Calories
Baby Boomers’ Guide To Healthy Eating: A Self Help Book for Making Choices Not Changes
Balanced Eating Made Easy with the Food Balance Wheel
Betty Crocker’s Healthy New Choices: A Fresh Approach to Eating Well