Eating healthy is about feeling great, having more energy, stabilizing your mood, and keeping yourself as healthy as possible. It doesn’t mean depriving yourself or stressing out about counting calories. Instead, think of it as simply adopting some healthier habits and making wiser choices. Here are some simple tips to get you started:
Focus on Whole Foods
Choose foods that are as close to their natural form as possible. Focus on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats and dairy. Avoid highly processed foods which are often loaded with added sugar, unhealthy fats and sodium. Read ingredient labels and aim for shorter lists with ingredients you recognize.
Eat More Vegetables and Fruit
Make it a goal to fill half your plate with vegetables and/or fruit at each meal as an important healthy eating habit. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Aim for a variety of colors to maximize nutrients. Frozen and canned options count too – just watch for added sugar and sodium.
Choose Healthier Proteins
Switch out some red meat for plant-based proteins like beans, lentils and tofu. Aim for at least 8oz of seafood per week for the omega-3 fatty acids. Limit processed meats like bacon, sausage and deli meats which are high in sodium and saturated fat. Grass-fed beef, organic poultry and eggs are healthier options.
Load Up On Fiber
Fiber fills you up, helps lower cholesterol, and feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut. Get fiber from whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. Read labels and aim for at least 25-30g per day. Increase slowly though to avoid gas and bloating.
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Watch Added Sugar and Sodium
Sugar and salt are added to many packaged foods to boost flavor. But too much can negatively impact your health. Compare brands and choose options lower in added sugars and sodium when possible. Limit sugary drinks, juices, candies, baked goods and desserts. Use natural spices and herbs to flavor foods instead of salt.
Drink plenty of water instead of sugary drinks like soda and juice. Try adding slices of lemon, lime, cucumber or watermelon to your water for flavor. Herbal teas are another nice option. Limit caffeine which can be dehydrating.
Practice Mindful Eating for Health
Slow down and savor your food. Don’t eat while also watching TV, playing on your phone or working. Taking time to enjoy your meals will help you feel more satisfied. Notice textures, flavors and aromas. This can nudge you away from mindless overeating.
Allow Yourself Treats
Deprivation leads to bingeing. Allow yourself occasional indulgences in moderation. Savor a small serving of dessert on special occasions or stick to just a square or two of quality chocolate. Just don’t make treats an everyday thing.
Prep Healthy Snacks
Having ready-to-eat healthy snacks on hand will help you avoid poor impulse choices. Some easy go-to options: fresh fruits and veggies with hummus, Greek yogurt with nuts and berries, apples with peanut butter, carrots and celery with ranch.
Know Your Triggers and Pitfalls
Identify situations that derail your eating habits, like stressful times, social events or when you wait too long between meals and get “starving.” Come up with plans to deal with them in a healthy way. For example, pack healthy portable snacks before a long day at work.
Set Yourself Up For Success
Make it easier on yourself by clearing junk foods out of your home and office. Have healthy staples on hand like eggs, nuts, oats, canned beans, frozen veggies and lean proteins. Wash and prep veggies when you get home from the grocery store.
Read Labels and Be Informed
Don’t assume a food item is healthy based on claims on the front label. Flip it over and read the Nutrition Facts panel. Check the calories and amounts of added sugars, sodium and saturated fat. Compare brands and choose the healthier options.
Cook More Meals at Home
Eating home cooked meals is linked to better health and weight control as it the best way of eating for health. Set aside time to meal prep a few healthy recipes each week. Involve your family for quality time together. Leftovers make easy lunches to bring to work.
Stay Physically Active
Aim for 150 minutes per week of moderate activity like brisk walking. This helps manage weight and reduces disease risk. Incorporate simple habits like taking the stairs, walking during lunch, and doing bodyweight exercises while watching TV.
Get Enough Sleep
Lack of sleep impacts hunger hormones. It can drive overeating, cravings for junk food, and weight gain. Aim for at least 7-8 hours per night. Maintain a regular sleep schedule and limit screen time before bed.
Chronic stress can increase inflammation in the body and blood levels of cortisol which can negatively impact health in many ways. Make time for relaxation daily through things like deep breathing, yoga, meditation, prayer, journaling, or cuddling with a pet.
Be Kind to Yourself
Perfection is not the goal. If you slip up, get right back on track at your next meal. Progress takes time, so focus on making healthier habits part of your lifestyle. Celebrate small victories along the way. Most importantly, treat yourself with compassion, patience and respect.