5 easy tips to make healthy eating a habit
Do you ever feel like you know what you should be eating but you just can’t quite figure out how? A few simple steps can help you eat better and improve your diet overall.
We spoke to the senior director of Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training at Herbalife Nutrition, Susan Bowerman on how to make healthy eating a habit.
Bowerman said there’s so much information floating around about what constitutes a ‘healthy diet,’ but sources may not always agree.
“There will always be trends in diets and diet advice, but just because “everyone is doing it” doesn’t mean that the latest diet fad is the one for you. The trick is finding ways to eat better from now on, not just until the next trend comes along,” she said.
Make healthy protein choices
One problem in choosing which proteins to eat is that if you’re not careful, you can end up eating a lot of fat. If fatty cuts of meat, sausages, and ground beef are your go-to proteins, start thinking about what you would be willing to eat instead. An easy first step is to lose the ground beef and replace it with ground poultry breast. In most recipes, the difference isn’t that noticeable.
When you’re ready to try adding more fish to your diet, you might start with something familiar, like shrimp or canned tuna. Look at your everyday recipes and see where you might substitute these for fattier meats - maybe in a pasta sauce, a wrap, or tacos.
Canned beans are a convenient source of plant protein, mild in flavor, and very low in fat. You can use them in a vegetarian stew, add them to soups, or whirl them in the blender with a little olive oil and garlic for a healthy dip for raw veggies. Tofu is worth a try, too. It’s got a very mild flavor that works well in soups and stir-fried dishes, or you can try roasting it.
Eat more fruits and vegetables
One obstacle to eating enough fruits and vegetables is the fact that they’re so perishable. For this reason, many people simply don’t buy these healthy foods often enough or resist buying them because they find that they go bad before they get around to eating or cooking them.
The easiest workaround is to stock your freezer with loose pack fruits and veggies. Since they’re picked at their peak and processed very quickly after harvest, frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh - and you don’t have to worry about spoilage. It’s easy to add fruits to your morning smoothie, yogurt, or cereal, or to add veggies to soups, omelets, pasta dishes, and stir-fries.
Make a goal to have a fruit or veggie with every meal or snack. One easy way to encourage the habit is to keep a bowl of fresh fruit on your kitchen counter and cut up veggies in the refrigerator. Having them visible and ready to eat will encourage you to eat more. When you go out to eat, order double veggies and skip the starch, or start your meal with a colorful salad or vegetable soup. And get in the habit of having fruit for dessert.
Swap in whole grains for refined grains
This is probably one of the easiest ways to improve your diet. When you switch from refined grains (like white bread, white rice, refined pasta, flour tortillas) to whole grains, you get a big boost in nutrition and fiber. You can find whole-grain counterparts for all your usual refined grains. So, start experimenting with whole wheat pasta, brown rice, corn tortillas, and 100% whole grain bread. For side dishes, you might want to experiment with other grains, like quinoa or wild rice.
Eat healthy fats in small amounts
Fats, even the “good” ones, pack quite a few calories. That’s why you should focus on reducing your overall fat intake by steering clear of high-fat snack foods, desserts, and fried foods. Allow yourself small amounts of healthy fats to supply necessary fatty acids.
Nuts, avocado, olive, and canola oils are considered healthier than other fats, so find ways to incorporate these foods into your diet. Avocado makes a good replacement for mayonnaise or butter – try making tuna salad with avocado instead of mayonnaise or use it to replace some of the butter in recipes for baked goods. And nuts in small amounts can contribute healthy fats to salads, vegetable dishes, hot cereal, or yogurt. Rather than grain-based corn oil, switch to fruit or seed oils like olive or canola when you cook.
Drink more fluids
Good nutrition and plenty of fluids go hand-in-hand. Water serves many functions in your body, not the least of which is that it helps you digest your food and it helps transport nutrients to your cells. Just be cautious that you’re not consuming a lot of calories at the same time. Fruits juices, sodas, and many coffee store beverages can be loaded with calories.
Your best bets are water, mineral water, tea, and plain coffee (and yes, tea and coffee count towards your fluid intake). If you don’t drink as much water as you should, try to foster the habit by keeping a water bottle nearby during the day. Another trick is to fill a pitcher with water in the morning and work your way through over the day. If you don’t care for plain water, try making your spa water by adding some fresh fruit or cucumber slices or herbs for flavour.