Dieting generally has a negative connotation because it conjures up ideas of fad diets and unhealthy weight loss. Going on a diet means you are temporarily depriving yourself of some type of food. A diet is not something you sustain over time.
When you go on fad diets, you are typically leaving out necessary nutrients. Dieting can make your body think it’s starving, and it actually starts to store fat. You can also become food obsessed – worrying about counting calories, carbs, proteins or fat. When taken to the extreme, dieting may be doing harm to your body and putting you at risk for illness.
The best diet is not a “diet” at all but a way of life that lets you eat the nutritious foods your body needs to thrive. By creating healthy eating habits, you can lose weight, tone up, feel better and have more energy. It may mean changing your mindset from dieting to eating a healthier, more balanced variety of foods.
Here are some tips to help you develop healthier eating habits and stick to it:
Tip 1: Start slowly
It can be overwhelming to think about overhauling all your eating habits at once. Trying to change everything at once can be hard and often leads to cheating or simply giving up. Start by adding a salad once a day. Or, make it a point to cut down on fried foods.
Tip 2: Think smaller
A key foundation for eating healthier is portion control. Over the past few decades, serving sizes have grown to huge amounts. One way to reduce your portions is to switch out your dinner plates for smaller plates. Think about moderation as you fill your plate. It can be especially hard to eat a normal-sized portion in a restaurant. Choose a starter or an appetizer instead of an entrée. Or, split a large main dish with a friend.
Tip 3: Eat your fiber
You can eat plenty of high-fiber foods – this means fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. These are “good” carbs and are nutritious, as well as help fill you up. They are also relatively low in calories. These foods can provide important vitamins and minerals.
Tip 4: Everything in moderation
Well, mostly limit the bad things. We all know what they are – unfortunately most of them taste really good! Limit your intake of sugary foods, refined grains like white bread and salty snacks. In addition, cut down on trans fat, which comes from hydrogenated vegetable oils and many fast foods. It’s also important to cut down on animal fat. It is high in saturated fat. Cutting down on fats may even help you lower your cholesterol. Also, if you drink alcohol, it should be done in moderation.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have a cookie, slice of cake or some potato chips. It just means to eat these things in moderation.
Tip 5: Add more fruits and vegetables
Most Americans are not eating enough fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. You should be eating 5 servings or more a day. Try to add more color in your fruits and vegetables – include greens, oranges and yellows, as well as purples, blues and reds.
Tip 6: Take your time
Slow down and think of food as nourishment, rather than something you eat between meetings or grab on the go. Sit down and eat at the table. If you eat in front of the TV or computer, you aren’t thinking about how much food you are actually consuming. Eating with others leads to conversation and helps you take breaks as you eat. Also, if you eat more slowly, your body will tell you when you’re full.
Tip 7: Keep it all in balance
The best tip for healthy eating is to keep it all in balance. Eat a wide variety of foods and think about smaller portion sizes. Try to add more fruits and vegetables to your plate.
And remember to take small step and make changes to your eating habits over time. The next thing you know you’ll be eating healthier and feeling better!