Changing a lifetime of bad eating habits is very difficult. It is not likely you can go from a diet of fast food, sweets, and soda pop to one consisting of only vegetables, lean meats, and fruit in one day. Developing healthy eating habits takes time, which is why you should take it one small step at a time.
What is Healthy Eating?
Before you can even embark upon changing your eating habits, it is helpful to understand what eating healthy really means. According to basic guidelines, a healthy diet consists of a range of foods from the different food groups. The emphasis of the diet should be to keep calories and fat low while getting a nice variety of nutrients. Whole grains, low-fat foods, lean meats, and vegetables should be staples of the diet. Also, sugar intake should be limited. As you start to make changes to what you eat, you will want to aim for these goals.
Small Steps That Are Easy to Make
In the beginning, it is the smallest steps that will be the easiest to take. You don’t want to cut out an entire food group or give up every comfort food you are used to eating. This will only sabotage your efforts because it is very difficult to stick with. Try beginning with your portion sizes. A good trick is to use smaller plates. This tricks your brain into thinking you are eating much more than you really are. You can still eat whatever foods you normally would, but you’ll be eating less, which means fewer calories and fat.
Another small step is to start cooking food differently. Avoid frying and try grilling, steaming, or baking instead. You’d be amazed at how much fat and how many calories you can lose just by switching cooking methods. Plan out your meals each week so you aren’t tempted to eat out. If you plan, you can make sure that you have enough time and the ingredients you need to make healthy meals at home. Substitute healthier products for the products you use now. There are many good products on the market that use healthier ingredients to produce foods that are high in fat and calories. A good example is Hampton Creek Foods that make healthier alternatives to foods like mayo and cookies.
Take Bigger Steps
Once you have mastered taking small steps, you can then begin to make bigger changes. This means really cutting out foods that aren’t good for you and making your way towards a completely changed diet. The biggest sabotage to healthy eating is drinking the wrong things. You have to stop drinking sweetened beverages. It can be tough to give up soda pop if you are used to drinking it regularly. Not only will you go through a bit of withdrawal from the caffeine but your body also misses that extra sugar. You may want to start by switching to a caffeine free version of your favorite soda. This will help you get past the withdrawal symptoms for caffeine before you tackle the sugar. Then you can start replacing soda with water, which is much better for your body.
Cut down on your meat intake. While meat does offer some health benefits and should be a part of a healthy diet, you really don’t need that much of it. You also should try to cut out red meat, which is very high in fat. Instead, choose fish and chicken without the skin. The best idea is to make vegetarian meals for the majority of the week. Start by substituting one or two meals until you get to five meals a week that are meatless. Start using vegetables in every dish you cook. Vegetables can be added to almost anything, from sauces to baked goods. Adding a handful of veggies to everything you cook will really help you reach the recommended intake and give a healthy boost to every food you eat.
When Eating Out
Eating out is one of the top ways to ruin a healthy diet. However, most restaurants, even fast food, offer some healthy options on their menu. You just have to know how to recognize them and make the right choices.
Don’t order anything fried
Avoid cream-based sauces
Don’t go to an all-you-can-eat buffet
Look for healthy food notations on the menu
Be aware of portion size and take half home if needed
Share a large serving with a friend
Get sauces and dressings on the side so you can add it yourself
Changing your eating habits is something you need to do if you want to be healthier. However, it isn’t always easy. By taking small steps, you will greatly increase the chances of success while also making it much easier on yourself.