Whether you're trying to lose weight or you just want more energy, you'll want to eat healthier. I know it can be confusing, and difficult at first, so here are my top ten ways to eat more healthy... enjoy!
1. Figure out How Many Calories You Need
Photo Credit: Beth Rankin
If you’re looking for an idea of just how many servings of fruits, vegetables, dairy, whole grains, and protein you ought to be consuming each day, then get a personalized plan at mypyramid.gov. Enter your age, sex, weight, height, and daily activity level, and the handy calculator will let you know exactly how much of each food group you should consume each day. This is a great place to start!
2. Pitch the Cans and Boxes
Photo Credit: Wellstone
This is the absolute simplest way to cut calories and eat healthier. Walk over to your pantry, open it, take out all of the cans and boxes of prepared foods, put them in a big paper bag, and set them aside. Anything that’s designed to sit on a store shelf in a box or a can for any amount of time is going to be loaded with sodium, fat, and nasty chemicals and preservatives with names I can’t even pronounce… so let’s stop eating them!
3. Make a List, Check It Twice
Before you go to the grocery store, make a list. Write down everything you plan to buy, then set the list aside and come back to it in ten minutes,. Re-read your list, and scratch out any item that makes you think twice. Oreos? Really? Do you need Oreos AND Chips Ahoy? Probably not… and what is it about those Pop-Tarts? And pizza rolls?
4. Color Your Plate
My old health and fitness instructor used to tell us that if we only remembered one rule of nutrition, it was to “color our plates.” That means that in general, the more colorful your meal, the healthier it will be. It makes sense — fruits and vegetables are bright and colorful, but fried foods and other non-healthy foods are dull, boring brown.
5. Spice It up
If you find that healthy foods taste bland, don’t reach for the salt shaker. Instead, try using spices. Not sure what to try? Start with basic black pepper, and get bolder from there.
6. Set Aside Time
If you are resolved to eat healthier, plan to spend more time in the kitchen, cooking meals. The allure of fast and convenient canned foods is how simple they are, and how little time it takes to prepare them. But there’s very little nutrition in these foods, and cooking can be a fun way to relax and unwind.
7. Ditch the Drive-thru
Aside from avoiding canned and boxed prepared foods in favor of preparing your own meals, the best thing you can do to eat healthier is to stop eating fast food. It’s terribly fattening (a double-cheeseburger, medium fries, and medium Coke from McDonald’s has 1030 calories, most of them from FAT). Amazing! If you can’t bear to part with your drive-thru foods, then try ordering without the cheese and mayo-based dressings. Also, try substituting French fries for something more healthful (and lower in calories), like sliced apples. Some fast food restaurants have entire menus dedicated to healthy eaters, like the Taco Bell Fresco Menu “Drive Thru Diet.” Notice the focus there is on fresh, non-fried items. Yum!
8. Rally the Troops
If you plan to make a big, healthy change at home, you’re going to need the support of everyone else in the household, because you’ll be changing their habits and diet, too. Get the kids in on the act, and let them help you prepare the meals. Ask them to help choose healthier alternatives to foods you already eat. They’ll love being helpful, and you’ll be teaching them life-long healthy eating habits!
9. Buy Local or Organic
Another great way to eat healthier is to invest in organic foods. Some foods, like peaches and apples, are almost poisonous if they’re not organically grown. If you can’t buy organic, another option would be to buy locally-grown food. Foods that need to be shipped are processed with icky preservatives and other chemicals, so they’ll appear fresh by the time they reach you. Locally grown foods are fresher and therefore, healthier! Buying them will also help keep your local economy healthy!
10. Spend a Lot of Time in the Produce Section
Have you ever noticed that the healthier foods in the grocery store are all in the front and at the sides? If you want junk food or processed foods, you’ll have to go up and down the inner aisles. So if you’re trying to eat healthier, try and spend more time in the produce section, and a lot less time in the inner, unhealthy depths of the store.
I’m so glad you’ve decided to eat healthier this year! We want all of our readers to be happy and healthy! Do you have any other ideas on how to eat healthier? How do you keep your diet in check? Please let me know!
Top Photo Credit: Netfalls