10 Eating Healthy Tips
These 10 healthy eating tips will help you change your diet and adopt new habits. Since the focus of healthy eating is not on losing weight but rather on getting a balance of foods and nutrients, simply cutting out a group of food or eating less is not enough to make your diet healthier. Use these strategies as you make small changes in your routine.
- Start slowly. It's tempting to chuck out all the "bad" food in the house and resolve to only eat health food. But this kind of sudden change is unlikely to stick. Instead, make small changes. Resolve to have at least one piece of fruit and one vegetable a day. If you are already doing the minimum, add in an extra fruit or an extra whole grain. As each change becomes a habit, add a new one.
- Look for whole grains. Whole grains are a fairly easy change to make. Look for whole grain breads, rolls, and pastas. Make sure the package says "Whole Grain" or that the first ingredient is a whole grain. Whole grain pastas may take some getting used to, as the texture is slightly different.
- Use the pyramid. The USDA Food Guide Pyramid gives you a good idea of what food groups to work into your diet.
- Think variety. A wide variety of foods will help keep healthy eating from getting boring. Rather than eating the same old romaine salad every lunch, try butter lettuce or field greens. Go to a farmer's market and buy a fruit or vegetable you've never heard of, then learn to cook it. Also turn to different ethnic cuisine for healthy ideas -- a stir fry full of broccoli, onions, carrots, and squash can be a nice change from the standard meat and potatoes.
- Choose whole foods. No, not the supermarket -- though that's an option. Choose foods that are as close to their natural state as possible -- raw fruits and vegetables, eggs, milk, and the like. Cutting processed foods is a quick and easy way to lower the sodium and fat in your diet.
- Learn to cook. All that fresh, whole food doesn't do you any good if you don't know how to cook! Making your own food gives you greater control over what's in it, portion sizes, and how it's prepared. Eating healthily doesn't mean you have to give up eating out, but cooking at home most of the time will make the transition to healthier meals easier. And you might find you like your own cooking better!
- Keep healthy snacks on hand. When the urge to snack strikes, it helps to have something on hand so you don't hit the vending machine or drive-thru. Keep nuts, fruit, whole grain crackers and nut butter, and other easy-to-eat snacks at home, in your car, in your office, and in your gymbag or briefcase so that you don't have to resort to potato chips when that midafternoon munchie attack hits.
- Snack between meals. Snacking between meals -- on healthy snacks, of course -- can actually help you regulate your blood sugar and keep you from either crashing or bingeing. Eating several small meals a day helps your blood sugar stay level.
- Pay attention to portion size. The healthiest food in the world is unhealthy if you eat too much of it. Most Americans suffer from portion distortion -- restaurant portions are often big enough for two to three people! Learn how to recognize portion sizes, and also be sure to read the portion size on any packaged food.
- Have a meatless Monday. Consider going vegetarian once a week. Vegetarian meals allow you to explore low-fat proteins and whole grains. If you can't give up meat entirely, try meals that use meat as a flavoring agent rather than the main focus of the meal. This helps you cut the fat in your diet while also upping fiber, which is a win-win.