Once you’ve decided to take the first steps in healthy eating, creating a plan to guide you will help you in your efforts. Eating healthier can start with small changes at first and you can progress from there, but creating goals for yourself in advance will help you stay focused and measure your progress.
Make Realistic Goals
If losing weight is what you hope to accomplish with your new healthy eating habits, set reasonable goals for yourself in terms of how much weight you’d like to lose. For some, gaining weight, lowering cholesterol, or building muscle may be the goal. Regardless of what you’re working towards, making goals that aren’t too easy or too impossible is a great way to stay motivated.
Stay Away From Convenience Foods
Not in every case, but quite often, packaged foods that are ready to eat are much less healthy than something home cooked. Cooking healthy meals from fresh meats, vegetables, and whole grains allows you to see what you’re putting into your meal and cut down on the excess fats and sugars you don’t need. You’re also potentially cutting out quite a bit of preservatives and toxins by eating this way.
Don’t Be Afraid To Snack
Sticking to a healthy eating plan doesn’t mean you need to cut snacks out of your day. Switching up your snack choices to a healthier alternative will allow you to fulfill your cravings while helping you to feel full and satisfied all day. Have a snack alternative option ready for every different craving you have, such as sweet, salty, hot, cold, or crunchy. Eat a piece of fruit in place of a candy bar or have a handful of nuts rather than a bag of chips.
Making too many drastic changes at once could be discouraging if you become overwhelmed with denying yourself all the foods you’re used to. Start by reducing your portions on your regular meals and cutting out the little things like that bag of chips you wolfed down on the way home and didn’t really taste. Once you’ve become accustomed to paying more attention to your diet, add a few more healthy eating habits in one at a time and soon you’ll notice your whole routine has changed for the better.
Sticking to your healthy eating regimen when eating out at a restaurant can be difficult. You can’t look at nutritional information labels and quite often the tasty looking pictures of unhealthy foods can be tempting. Sometimes you may choose to just avoid going to a restaurant altogether, but depriving yourself of these events could mean you’re missing out on exciting social gatherings. With a few tips and a little willpower, dining out doesn’t need to be a stressful experience.
Substitute What You Can
Choose a salad over fries or add another vegetable side in lieu of the mashed potatoes. A lot of restaurants will have a healthy eating section of their menu that makes these choices for you. Instead of having a burger, get your patty lettuce wrapped instead. In some cases, you may want to omit instead of substitute. If your salad comes with garlic bread, ask that they leave the bread off your order entirely. By omitting the items you tell yourself you just won’t eat, you won’t be tempted at the end of the meal when they’re still on your plate.
Limit Sauces and Dressings
You may feel that ordering an entree salad is a healthy eating choice, but sometimes restaurants drench their salads in high calorie dressings. Ordering your dressing on the side allows you to choose how much you’re going to use. This can apply to any sauces that may come on your meats or vegetables as well. Using a limited amount still gives you the delicious flavour while reducing the amount of calories you’re consuming.
By ordering a half order of your favourite meals, you’re cutting the calories in half. When you feel full, stop eating and ask your server to take your plate away to prevent you from picking at it while everyone else finishes their meal. If you really feel that you just can’t waste what’s left, take it to go and eat it for lunch the next day.
Choose the Right Location
When deciding where to dine, research what is available on the menus of a few restaurant choices in advance. It can be a good idea to be aware of a few local restaurants that have a healthy eating menu available. Some restaurants really promote healthy eating so find a few good ones in your area and make those your regular dining spots whenever you eat out.
With any good healthy eating plan, snacking can throw a wrench into your best efforts. You can have the healthiest meals planned out, but when you can’t make it from lunch to dinner and have to grab something to tide you over, be sure you aren’t eating something that will sabotage you.
Satisfy Your Cravings
Always have a snack alternative for every craving. When you want a salty bag of chips, eat a handful of nuts instead. For that sweet tooth, grab an apple or banana rather than a pack of candy. Substituting a healthy choice for your hot, cold, crunchy, and creamy cravings will keep you feeling full and satisfied without out all the guilt.
Eat Smaller Meals
If you feel like you have to snack quite a few times a day and just can’t wait for your main meals, split your three large meals up into six smaller ones. This will keep you feeling full all day while giving your body time to properly digest a smaller amount of food. Eating this way may also encourage you to plan out healthier meals rather than grabbing something quick between meals that may not be as good for you.
Dehydration can make you feel hungry when you’re actually just thirsty. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day to fight these feelings. Caffeine and drinks with artificial sweeteners can sometimes cause you to feel hungrier, so sticking to water and low calories juices are usually your best bet.
Either completely cut out the snack sessions while watching television or switch to something that isn’t loaded with calories. Plain popcorn without the extra butter, sunflower seeds, or a bowl of grapes are all healthier options than a bag of chips or pretzels and they will still take quiet awhile to eat.
You don’t have to give up your afternoon snack times in order to practice healthy eating habits, just choose your snacks more wisely. Picking the lower calorie or lower fat varieties of your favourite snack can be the first step in eating healthier. Changing to a different type of food altogether or cutting down on how many snacks you have throughout the day can be your next step. Start off slowly and gradually switch to healthier foods for long term success in healthy eating habits.