I am all for healthy eating. The Hubby and I have focused on having a healthy, good-for-our-bodies diet for a long time, and I can’t say enough about how much better it makes me feel than all the junk food I used to devour in high school and college. (And I did. Oh, I was bad!)
Eating right gives you more energy, better concentration, better endurance, and can help stave off illness. But it can also be intimidating, especially when you walk into the grocery store and see aisles and aisles of products that are calorie-free, gluten-free, vegan, organic, “all-natural,” and about a million other things.
But, as with everything in life, I truly do believe it’s all about balance. You don’t need to eat like a caveman (Paleo), cut out all carbs (or whatever your current diet tells you to cut out), or spend hours counting calories and cooking complex meal plans. All you need to do is be a little smart about what you’re putting into your body, and try to make healthy choices on a regular basis.
Really, eating well comes down to some incredibly simple, commonsense rules:
Eat smaller portions. The average restaurant “entrée” can usually feed me three times over, especially if The Hubby and I get an appetizer or dessert, too. Americans especially eat way more food than our bodies need. An easy way to control your portions is to use smaller plates…really! If I go home and I’m facing my mom’s world-class homemade macaroni and cheese, I will fill my plate. But if I take a salad plate instead of a dinner plate, I can still feel like I’m getting a heaping portion without stuffing myself silly.
Stop when you’re full. This may seem like a “no kidding” piece of advice, but stop and really think about it. Do you tend to shovel down whatever’s on your plate, either because you’re starving, or in a rush, or whatever? Or do you take the time to really savor what you’re eating, pausing now and then to let your stomach tell you if it’s had enough? (Another good rule: Pay attention to what you’re eating. Take the time to eat mindfully.)
Snack smart. There’s nothing wrong with snacking…in fact, it can help hold you over between meals so you don’t go overboard. Just make sure you’re choosing smart choices to keep you going, like nuts or fruit, instead of those stale donuts in the break room or that candy bar in your desk drawer. (Also a good tip? Get that candy bar out of your desk drawer! Eliminate temptations so you can’t give into them.)
Keep it balanced. You don’t need to go vegetarian, or vegan, or whatever strict fad diet is currently “in.” Just make sure that you’re getting a well-rounded diet each day. Include a good mix of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins. If you indulge in some junky food for lunch, make sure breakfast and dinner are healthier. You don’t have to be super-rigid about what you eat, just make sure you eat well overall and compensate for any times you don’t.
Drink more water. It’s so easy, yet so many of us fail to do it. Try to get those recommended 8 glasses a day. Hydration is so important to keep you feeling well. Skip the sodas and smoothies and super-sugary coffee drinks. If you need something with a little more to it, there are all sorts of flavored waters out there now that are absolutely delicious. (And if you need a cup or two of coffee to get moving in the morning, keep it as plain as possible and skip the whip cream covered coffee shop creations.)
Eat fresh. Stay away from as many processed, pre-packaged foods as you can. Fresh veggies are infinitely better for you than canned or frozen. (And they taste so much better, too!) The same goes for pretty much anything. Make yourself a wrap or salad for lunch instead of grabbing something from the closest fast food joint. Your body will thank you!
Listen to your body. In addition to being aware of when you’re full, listen to other signs your body sends your way. If you get cranky or tired between meals, you may need a healthy snack to keep yourself well-fueled…it’s OK to eat when you’re hungry! If you’re craving something, listen to your body and find a healthy way to fulfill that craving. Our bodies give us signals all the time; we just fail to listen to them a lot.
What other tips do you have for easy ways to eat healthier?
photo credit: Caro Wallis