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The popular phrase: ‘Health is wealth ’ wasn’t made without reason! As Bethenny Frankel once said: “Your diet is a bank account, good food choices are good investments”. So, why do some people eat healthy while others don’t? Well, it has been observed that a majority of people associate healthy eating with dieting and begin to centre their goals around achieving a near-to-perfect body image such as a thigh gap, V-cut abs, or the perfect size zero figure. This in turn demotivates them and prevents them from making healthy choices.
In truth, however, healthy eating is far from typically going on a crash diet! It also most certainly doesn’t involve meeting impractical fitness goals. In fact, healthy eating not only means ‘choosing’ the right food to consume, but it also means ‘enjoying’ the food that you consume! If you are keen to know how to start eating healthier, then it is important that you drop your unrealistic expectations and understand healthy eating for what it really is! On the whole, starting and ending your day with a healthy meal contributes to both your physical and mental well-being. Here are 25 tips on how to start eating healthy.
1.Keep yourself well hydrated
Regardless of whether it is summer or winter, it is important that you drink enough water and keep yourself well hydrated. Putting aside the water you get from your food, an average of 6-8 glasses is the recommended amount of water you should be drinking each day. Water offers a plethora of benefits. For example, drinking water before a meal helps reduce your appetite and in turn, contributes to weight loss. Research has shown that people drinking more water end up burning more calories than those who don’t. They have also been found to consume lesser calories compared to those who replace water with soft drinks or other beverages.
2.Don’t skip your breakfast
As the old saying goes: ‘Eat your breakfast like a king’ because breakfast is indeed the most important meal of the day! A majority of people seem to have the misconception that skipping breakfast equates to losing weight. However, the truth is quite the opposite. Studies have shown that people who skip breakfast seem to have a higher BMI than those who don’t! A breakfast that is rich in fibre and low in sugar and salt is what constitutes a healthy diet. It increases alertness, helps break your overnight fast, and jumpstarts your metabolism, thus helping you burn a significant number of calories throughout the day.
3.Control your sweet tooth
Cutting down on your sugar intake helps improve your health in a number of ways. Tooth decay and obesity are the most common issues associated with increased sugar consumption. Obesity, as you know can lead to other major health problems such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. However, it is important to remember that not all sugars are the same. For instance, free sugars most commonly found in packaged food and drinks are the ones that need to be cut down rather than the sugars found in fruits. So, try opting for non-sugary drinks and make it a habit to check your food labels to find out how much sugar your food contains.
4.Replace processed foods with whole foods
Unhealthy eating habits start in childhood when binging on pizza, instant noodles, or a bag of chips alongside watching your favourite TV show becomes your daily after-school routine. Well, processed foods are tempting no doubt, but keep in mind that they are low in nutrients and high in calories. Processed foods often contain high amounts of added sugar such as high fructose corn syrup as well as artificial chemical flavouring and refined carbohydrates. If you wish to start healthy eating habits, it is essential that you replace your processed food with healthier alternatives like whole-grain foods, fresh fruits, vegetables, and pulses.
5.Reduce your salt intake
Despite being fully aware that too much salt is bad for us, most of us continue to consume large amounts of salt without our knowledge! Keep in mind that although you may be adding little or no salt to your food, a majority of the food that you consume on a daily basis such as sandwiches, salad dressings, pizzas, cereals, and canned vegetables are already high in salt. Excess sodium may raise your blood pressure and increase your risk of heart failure, stroke, osteoporosis, or stomach cancer. So next time you go grocery shopping, make sure to check the food labels!
6.Include fruits and vegetables in your daily diet
It goes without saying that fruits and vegetables are definitely a must-include in your daily diet. If you’re keen on developing healthy nutrition habits, then this is where you start! Making sure that you get your 5-A-Day, which basically involves eating at least 5 portions of fruits and vegetables per day will definitely lower your risk of falling prey to major health problems such as heart disease and different forms of cancer. While frozen, canned, juiced, or dried portions count, fresh portions may still be a better option.
7.Choose to eat your fruits rather than drinking them
Although drinking fruit juices may seem tastier and more appealing than eating whole fruits, bear in mind that fruit juices in any form, either bottled or fresh mostly contain a mixture of flavours or fruit concentrates as well as larger amounts of sugar, which make them less healthy compared to consuming whole fruits. Moreover, fruits as we all know are rich in fibre, antioxidants, and a variety of plant material. This is why, when consumed in their solid form they don’t cause a drastic spike in blood sugar level due to chewing resistance and slow breakdown of sugar.
Being active is as important for your overall well-being as eating healthy. Research has shown that regular exercise can reduce the risk of chronic illness, improve sleep, mood, and boost your energy levels. To maintain a perfect BMI, you need to exercise regularly and eat well. However, physical activity need not always involve going to the gym. Taking a walk every day will also do! If you’re someone who is trying to lose weight, one useful tip would be to set up a weight loss meal plan. Moreover, using a BMI calculator can help you track your progress.
9.Up your protein intake
Protein is the key component required for growth as well as the repair and development of cells in the body. Numerous studies have also shown that proteins increase fat burn and reduce calorie intake, thus contributing to weight loss. A high protein diet can also help you retain muscle mass, which is otherwise lost during the process of weight loss. Some of the best sources of protein include dairy products such as eggs, peanut butter, and lean meat. Greek yoghurt is known to contain more quantity of protein as compared to normal yoghurt and needs to be included in your daily diet.
10.Don’t forget to eat your greens
If you’re considering weight loss, then leafy greens may be your answer! A simple trick is to eat your greens as starters rather than having them as part of your main course. This will help reduce your appetite as you progress through the rest of your meal, thus helping you consume fewer calories in the process. Studies have shown that eating a portion of vegetables prior to feasting on a carb-rich meal tends to slow down the absorption of carbohydrates into the bloodstream which in turn helps control blood sugar levels in people suffering from diabetes.
11.Get enough sleep
Being fit and healthy doesn’t solely depend on drawing out a healthy nutrition plan, it also depends on the type of lifestyle that you choose to lead. Getting adequate amounts of sleep on a daily basis helps improve immune function, concentration, productivity, and glucose metabolism, which in turn reduces your risk of developing anti-inflammatory diseases, obesity, and heart disease. Research has shown that being sleep deprived often increases your appetite, thus increasing your tendency of consuming a greater number of calories than you intend to. It can also result in the onset of mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.
12.Choose black coffee over commercial varieties
Coffee is the most popular and widely consumed beverage, rich in antioxidants. However, not all varieties of coffee meant to be useful. For example, commercial varieties that contain excessive quantities of sugar and cream may prove rather detrimental than beneficial to your health. The healthiest way to consume coffee is to either drink it black or add little or no additional ingredients. Black coffee is a rich source of Vitamin B12, magnesium, and antioxidants which can fight the body's cell damage.
13.Track your nutrient intake rather than your calorie intake
If you don’t already know, counting calories isn’t the best way of keeping a track of the quality of your diet. This is because although some food may contain a similar number of calories, they don’t contain the same nutritional value and are not metabolized in the same way in your body. Processed food, for example, may sometimes contain fewer calories than fruits but are high in sugar and salt. Moreover, the quality of the calorie matters rather than the quantity.
14.Choose a smaller plate to eat in
Did you know that the size of your plate can influence the quantity of food you eat? Well, it has been proven that the size of your dinnerware does matter. For instance, eating from a smaller plate will trick your brain into thinking that you have eaten more. This as a result will prevent you from overeating. Eating off larger plates on the other hand can trick your brain into thinking you’re eating less while you may actually be consuming larger quantities than necessary. This may result in unhealthy habits such as overeating and intermittent snacking.
15.Keep healthy food well in reach
One of the best ways to eating healthy is to make sure to keep healthy food in visible areas of your home. When you get hungry, you are most likely to grab the first food you see. Well, if the first thing that catches your eye is a fruit, vegetable, nut, or berry, then that’s what you end up snacking on! For example, keeping fruits in a basket of berries and nuts in a jar either on your dining table, desk, kitchen counter or the top shelf of your refrigerator will definitely help you develop a healthy snacking habit.
16.Prepare your own meals
It has been proven that cooking your own food may be good for you in more than one way. Firstly, since you are the one cooking the meal, you get to add the ingredients in the desired proportions. This way, you are aware of the nutrients and calories that you’re consuming. Secondly, cooking in larger amounts means that you have enough food left over for the days to come. This in turn saves time and money spent by you buying fast food or eating out. Research has also shown that home-cooked meals are healthier and reduce the risk of childhood obesity.
17.Avoid ‘diet’ foods
As ironic as it may sound, foods labelled as ‘diet’ may not actually be good for your diet! Typically, everything that reads ‘low calorie’, ‘low sugar’, ‘fat-free’ or ‘reduced fat’ may have had its fat content artificially reduced. However, in order to compensate for the lost texture and flavour, other ingredients such as sugar and fat are added which make them a lot more unhealthy than their fat-rich counterparts. So, if you wish to get in shape, you might prefer cutting down on your consumption of diet fizzy drinks and replacing them with whole foods instead.
18.Snack on nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are the perfect alternatives to unhealthy snacks like potato chips or snack bars. Not only are they packed with antioxidants, but they are also rich sources of calcium, magnesium, and zinc. When consumed every day, these superfoods can drastically lower your chances of developing heart disease and are also capable of lengthening your life! Sunflower seeds, almonds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and hazelnuts are examples of the healthiest nuts and seeds that are worth spending your free time binging on! You could also get creative with your baking recipes or try topping your cereal with nuts!
19.Always carry a shopping list to the supermarket
Healthy eating starts by having control over the things that you buy. Going shopping without a shopping list not only tempts you to overbuy but also causes you to spend more money than necessary on things that in most cases you don’t even need. Besides this, going shopping hungry can also be a problem. Hunger tends to exacerbate your impulses, causing you to make unhealthy choices. So, next time you decide to go shopping, make a list of healthy groceries and be sure that you aren’t starving. This way you can save money and stay healthy!
Did you know that your eating speed can determine the number of calories you’re consuming? Studies have shown that slow eaters tend to consume fewer calories than fast eaters. There are 2 reasons for this. Firstly, by eating slow, you tend to chew your food for a longer time. Chewing as you already know helps with digestion, thus contributing to healthy body weight. Secondly, the feelings of hunger and being full are controlled by hormones. It takes around 20 minutes for the signals to reach your brain informing you that you’re full. This is why slowing down really helps!
21.Choose to bake or roast your food over frying or grilling
Being aware of your cooking habits can help you become healthier. If you didn’t already know, grilling, roasting, and frying your food can result in the release of harmful compounds such as heterolytic amines (HCAs), glycation end products as well as other toxic hydrocarbons which may double your risk of developing life-threatening health conditions like heart disease and cancer. Of course, occasionally enjoying some grilled meat and fish isn’t harmful! However, it is always best to limit your grilled and fried food consumption and instead try opting for healthier procedures such as baking, stewing or pressure-cooking. These methods are safer since they don’t involve the formation of toxic compounds.
22.Reduce your intake of saturated fat
As we all know, there are 2 main types of fats namely saturated and unsaturated fats. For the healthy functioning of our body, we do require some fats. However, saturated fats in particular must not be consumed in excess since they can drastically increase our risk of developing heart disease and stroke by increasing the level of LDL cholesterol in our blood. Replacing unhealthy saturated fat and trans fat with plant-based monosaturated fat is considered healthy and is also known to prolong your life. However, it is important to remember that saturated fats are healthy when consumed in moderation. Some foods which contain saturated fats include dark chocolates, whole eggs, and nuts.
23.Make sure to include starch and fibre in your diet
Including high fibre starchy carbohydrates in your diet is key to maintaining good health. Foods such as pasta, potatoes, and bread are rich in starch and can keep you feeling full for longer periods of time. While most people think that carb-rich foods are fattening, it is what you add to these foods that make them fattening rather than the foods themselves. For example, spreading butter over your bread or topping your pasta with a creamy sauce increases their calorie content, thus making them unhealthy. Try to include at least one starchy carbohydrate per day in your diet. Also, don’t forget to choose fibre-rich wholegrain varieties over white or refined starchy carbohydrates.
24.Increase your intake of probiotic food
Upping your intake of probiotic food is one of the best ways of keeping yourself healthy. They not only improve digestion but also help strengthen your immune system. Yoghurt, kefir, pickles, and certain varieties of soft cheese are some examples of the best probiotic food. They are also sometimes taken as dietary supplements.
Different probiotics are different however since different bacterial strains have different effects. Probiotic foods help extract nutrients present in food and improve overall gut function. Regular consumption can prevent or treat conditions like diarrhoea, vaginal infections, irritable bowel syndrome, and bladder cancer.
25.Replace unhealthy snacks with healthy smoothies
If you’re considering a healthy alternative to unhealthy snacks, then smoothies might be your answer! They can help you lose weight, keep you hydrated and provide you with enough fuel to keep you active and alert throughout the day! Smoothies can be made of either fruit or greens. Fruit smoothies benefits include reducing cholesterol and maintaining a healthy blood sugar level while greens smoothie benefits include improving digestive health, bone strength, and immunity.
They also help lower your chances of developing chronic ailments. In fact, smoothie recipes are plenty. So, you can go ahead and give them all a try! However, remember to add less sugar to your smoothie to make it healthier. Although they might be quite filling, it is recommended that you consume them along with your meal rather than having them as meal substitutes.
Now that you’re aware of the tips and tricks to maintaining a healthy diet, you can probably go ahead and start reorganizing your shopping list by striking out unhealthy items and replacing them with healthier ones. However, as healthy as you might possibly want to get, always remember to take it slow. Restricting yourself too much can increase your cravings and cause you to jump into the unhealthy loop again! This may further contribute to weight gain! So, remember to take baby steps and prepare yourself to be shocked by the good results!