Raise a hand if sugar or salt is your friend. Raise two hands if you find a way to combine them in one snack. Most of us struggle with eating healthy. The stuff that’s bad for you tastes so good. But if you’ve gained weight from all that ‘good’ stuff or your health has started to decline, its time for a change. If your willpower is questionable, there’s still hope. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be a constant pain. There are easy, almost effortless ways to change your diet for the better. You can try one trick or try them all. Even if you don’t incorporate all of these tips overnight, you’ll be on your way to better eating habits and better health.
1. Keep Healthy Foods Where You Can See Them
You’re more likely to start eating healthy food if you can see it. If you walk to the kitchen to grab a snack ,you should see the healthier options right away. Hide the sugary stuff, that way you’ll have to dig to get to it. Put the less healthy food in a container that makes it harder to see. A lot of people eat on the run or grab something last minute before they leave. When we have nothing but unhealthy choices, we’re guaranteed to eat unhealthy. Put your protein, fruits and veggies in the front of the fridge or on the counter so you can grab them first.
2. Chew Longer
Chewing makes you eat slower, giving your body time to realize that you’re full. People who don’t chew tend to eat a lot and eat fast. Slow down and actually enjoy your meal. Crunchy foods are harder to chew and take longer to eat. They tend to be more satisfying and you feel like you’ve eaten something as opposed to soft or liquid snacks. Whatever you eat, take your time and stop when you start to feel full. That seems like simple logic, but clean plate club members will keep eating until the plate is empty—even when they’re full.
3. Don’t Eat from a Box
This is a hard habit to stop. Foods that are packaged in a box came from a factory. They usually have lots of yummy ingredients that aren’t good for you. Processed foods are some evil foodie genius’ lab creation. They are also very easy to grab and overeat. Boxes list their calorie and nutrient count per serving, but often pack several servings in a package. It’s so easy to over indulge in packaged foods if you don’t pay attention. If you don’t have the discipline, avoid it. Trust me, you won’t die if you put down the box. At least go box free for one or two days a week. Another good rule is: If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it. Most healthy foods have easy names; monotrihydrochlorasodiacetate isn’t one of them.
4. Use a Plate Strategy
When you eat ‘bad’ food at least eat less of it. Use a dessert sized plate and have your treats. It’s a useful psychological trick because your plate still looks full. If you’re part of the clean plate club, this is a great trick to use. You can’t pile on too much and you still get to taste the ‘forbidden’ food. If you’re meal planning and using a regular plate, devote half of the plate to veggies. Fill the rest with protein and whole grains. Use bigger plates if you’re loading up on vegetables because you can never have too many.
5. Add Veggies to Comfort Foods
If you love, love, love pasta and eat way too much, you won’t stop overnight. Try adding vegetables to make the meal healthier. You’ll get more nutrients and eat less pasta since veggies will fill you up as well. Gradually increase the amount of veggies you add to wean yourself off the carb overload. That tip can work for any food you know you won’t give up. Make the healthiest version of it you possibly can. Macaroni still tastes good with added vegetables. Really, I wouldn’t lie to you.
6. Eat Fruit to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
Sugar is addictive. Cookies, cake and other sweets are tempting. You won’t just stop wanting sweets if you love them. Your tongue isn’t the problem; it’s your mind. You can replace the artificial sugars with the natural kind and your taste buds will still be happy. Fruits like pineapple, apple, peaches and bananas are naturally sweet and filling. These fruits are popular in dessert dishes. Make fruit based dessert dishes, blend a smoothie or just eat the fruit plain to fight the cravings.
7. Cook a Large Batch
Cooking is not a hobby for most people. If you don’t want to cook everyday, try cooking every other day. Cook a larger batch of a healthy meal and pack half for lunch or dinner the next day. Pack away the food in a clear container so you see it when you open the fridge. Notice that most sweets come in clear packaging or have bright pictures of what’s inside. That’s because the more you notice it, the more tempting it is. Break out your leftovers on lazy days when you’d rather veg out than make veggies.
8. Drink Water Instead
Most people drink their extra calories. They drink soda and sugary juices mindlessly. All of these drinks have artificial flavoring or sugar, which add zero nutritional value. If you aren’t a fan of water, try adding a few squeezes of lemon or drinking sparkling water. Sparkling water is carbonated and has that fizzy sensation like soda. That habit can get expensive, but if you buy bottled water anyway the cost is less of a factor. To drink more water, get a large bottle and keep it close. When you get thirsty you’re more likely to drink the water than go searching for something else. Switching out sugary drinks for water can save calories if you’re trying to lose weight as well.
9. Grill or Bake, Don’t Fry
Eat the same food, but prep it in a healthier way. Frying food requires breading and dunking your food in oil. It is easier to grill on a stove top or portable grill or pop in the oven. Set a timer and turn your meat or veggies when you need to. Frying takes more attention and effort anyway. Frying and eating healthy don’t mix. You can even bake french fries. We all love french fries.
10. Use Spices
Naturally healthy food rarely has anything added. That’s a good thing for health, but not so fun for your taste buds. There are dozens of readily available spices you can use to flavor your food. Adding a spice to your veggies or meats improves the taste. It also keeps you from getting bored with the same meals over and over. Basic spices, like garlic, lemon pepper, basil and ginger make everything taste better. Be brave and try some spices you’ve never heard of or a special blend. Eating healthy food doesn’t have to be totally boring.
Your eating habits won’t magically become perfect, but keep at it. It will make a difference in the long run. I’m not a doctor, these are just some tricks that help me control my sweet and salt tooth. As always, consult your doctor before trying an new diet or drastic changes. I have to go throw away sugar filled some boxes now.