Eating a healthy, balanced diet is one of the best things you can do to protect your health. But making major changes to your diet can sometimes seem overwhelming. Instead of looking to crash diets and ‘detoxes’ for fast results, focus on small lifestyle changes that encourage a balanced, healthier diet. Work with small changes and stay consistent with them.
Here are 15 easy habits that will help you to feel happier and healthier in the long run:
1. Eat the Veggies on Your Plate First
Make sure you get your veggies in your system by eating your vegetables first, then protein, then carbs. That way, when you get to the fatty foods you won’t be as hungry. By the time you get to the carbs, you might even be full. You’ll also guarantee that all the veggies on your plate are eaten, regardless of how much food you dished up!
2. Use a cooking spray instead of oil
Every tablespoon of olive oil is about 120 calories. However, roughly each second of spray time releases about 7 calories. This can be a huge calorie saver when cooking. Plus, the spray often distributes the oil better so that your food cooks more evenly and is more flavourful!
3. Order first when eating out
When you’re out with friends, make an effort to order first so that you’re not tempted by what everyone else is ordering. If there’s a high-calorie and relatively unhealthy dish you’re dying to try (like a decadent dessert), consider asking a friend to split it with you. You’ll end up eating less of it and save some money too.
4. Make smart food swaps
Swap out certain foods to cut calories without really noticing. For instance, instead of a bagel, have an English muffin. Here are different foods that you can swap out for lower-calorie alternatives.
5. Eat snacks out of a bowl
When you eat snacks out the bag, you brain doesn’t give you a ‘stop’ signal. Instead, portion out an amount you’re happy with on to a plate or bowl instead. It’s all about portion control people! When you eat snacks out the bag, you brain doesn’t give you a ‘stop’ signal. Instead, portion out an amount you’re happy with on to a plate or bowl instead. It’s all about portion control people!
6. Avoid distractions when eating
You tend to eat more when you’re distracted. Put down your phone and switch off the TV and be present. Appreciate your food by practicing mindful eating where you are fully aware of the colours, flavours, smells and textures of your food.
7. Steam instead of fry
When you cook your food with a processed oil, it leads to the formation of trans fat that can cause health issues. Steaming removes the need for oil, reducing the risk of heart disease and obesity. Aside from being healthier, steaming food as also been found to be more budget-friendly!
8. Order your salad with the dressing on the side
One thing most people don’t realise is the amount of calories in salad dressing. Some restaurant salads can be close to 1000 calories, with a big portion of it sitting in the dressing. Always ask for the salad dressing on the side so that you can add an appropriate amount as needed.
9. Meal prep
Meal prep allows you to take the time to plan and think carefully about your meals ahead of time. Instead of grabbing the easiest, quickest thing when you’re in a rush, plan ahead of time so that you’ve got a healthy, nutritious meal to grab on your way out. A little bit of work now can save you from eating unhealthy foods later in the week!
10. Wait 20 minutes before deciding to eat more
It takes your stomach about 20 minutes to tell your brain that it’s full. So if you’re still hungry after 20 minutes, get yourself a second helping.
11. Add frozen veggies whenever you can
Frozen vegetables are usually frozen at peak freshness, making them a great choice when it comes to veggies. This is a great way to make sure that you’ve always got some vegetables at hand to spruce up your everyday meals. The best part is you can buy one big bag to keep for a while in your freezer, making it healthy and cost-effective!
12. Do your weekly shopping on Fridays
Getting your groceries at the end of the week makes you less likely to eat out during the weekend. It also allows you to cook healthy meals to prep for the week over the weekend. It may seem like a hassle to go shopping after a long week of work, but the benefits are worth it!
13. Try to eat out less
Try stick to foods you’ve made yourself. When you cook food at home, you’re able to control every single ingredient that goes into your food. More often than not, you’re putting whole foods into each meal rather than ordering processed foods. Ordering takeout or buying processed foods generally contain more salt than necessary, and unhealthy additives.
14. Avoid sugary, carb-heavy foods for breakfast
Ditch the cereal, chocolate croissants and muffins for breakfast. Sugary foods in the morning can cause your blood sugar levels to spike, resulting in a crash that will only make you crave more sugar later. Instead, eat breakfast foods that are high in protein and vegetables. Those foods are more nutritious and they’ll keep you full for longer.
15. Treat yourself now and then
Allow yourself to be flexible and eat your favourite treat now and then. Just try to keep it under 150 calories. Studies have shown that people find the same satisfaction from their favourite foods regardless of portion size. Let yourself indulge in your favourite treats, just try to reduce the portion and take time to enjoy each and every bite.