Counting Calories Doesn’t Always Equal Healthy Eating
Changing the way in which you’ve been eating for your entire life can be a daunting task. Trying to count calories, and maintain a diet that facilitates a regular workout regimen, only makes it that much harder to succeed. Unless of course, you realize that not all calories are created equal and that attempting to calorie count your way to better health isn’t necessarily going to help. Here are a few suggestions to help you create healthy eating habits without compromising your lifestyle.
Tips For Incorporating Healthy Eating Into Your Life
Take a day out of the week to plan your meals, shop for the ingredients, cook the food, and pack individual portions away for quick and easy, grab on the go meals. Having your meals preplanned, and pre portioned, will help you to make sure that you aren’t eating more than you should when you’re hungry.
Pack Your Meals
Once you’ve mastered the art of meal prepping, it’s best to pack those meals with you when you leave the house. That way, no matter where you are, or what you’re doing, a healthy meal is never far away. The more convenient that you can make healthy eating the more likely you are to stick with it.
Eat Eggs For Breakfast
Don’t just grab a piece of toast or a waffle when you’re headed out the door though. Make yourself a high protein breakfast of eggs, to fuel your body correctly so that your glucose levels won’t drop during the day, leaving you to feel sluggish and fatigued.
Try Oatmeal Instead
If you aren’t a huge fan of eggs, try some oatmeal for breakfast instead. Oatmeal has a high concentration of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and potassium. Fiber helps to keep the digestive system running smoothly while simultaneously keeping you full and fighting cravings.
Use Smaller Plates
Portion control is one of the most helpful ways to encourage healthy eating. Putting your meal onto smaller plates, and eating from them, makes your mind think that you are consuming more, and thus makes you feel more full with less food.
Eat More Vegetables
Vegetables have a low energy density, which means that they have fewer calories in a larger amount of food. This essentially means that you can eat less and consume fewer calories, without cutting down (much) on the volume of foods that you’re used to consuming.
Filling Your Plate
Learn how to fill your plate, so that you can maximize the available space, with nutritious foods to carry you through your journey of healthy eating. Half of your plate should hold your fruits and vegetables for the meal. Once you have those portioned out you can add your protein, and the remaining space allows for the inclusion of whole grains.
Eat More Protein
Protein is one of the most used enzymes in your body. About 10,000 different proteins make up the muscle, bone, hair, skin, and organs in your body, which makes it an essential part of any diet. According to the Institute of Medicine, adults should consume about 8 grams of protein per 20 pounds of body weight.
Serve 20% Less
You are used to putting a certain amount of food onto your plate, and finishing it. Scientifically your hunger wouldn’t register the difference between 100% of the food, and 80% of the food, that you’re used to eating. Practice healthy eating by serving yourself 20% less food and your brain will think it’s eating 100% of the meal without your stomach knowing any differently.
Cut Out Bad Carbs
That’s doesn’t mean cutting all carbs out of your diet though. That’s right, you can eat carbohydrates (provided that they’re good carbs). Bad carbs are simple carbohydrates that are filled with basic sugars, and no real nutritional value to your body (soda, candy, sugar, refined white grains, potatoes, desserts). Good carbs on the other hand are complex carbohydrates and take more time for the body to break them down. This means that the sugars in these foods are released at a more steady rate, and keep your energy and glucose levels consistent throughout the day.
During sleep your body is hard at work repairing and restoring itself so that it can run smoothly. Adults need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It has been shown that getting an adequate amount of sleep helps with healthy eating and weight loss progress, for both physical and psychological reasons. Read more about how sleep can help you lose weight here.
Ultimately it doesn’t matter if you eat 3 large meals per day, or 6 smaller meals per day, as long as you’re getting adequate nutrition throughout the day. Noralyn Mills, a registered dietitian and ADA spokeswoman, argues that eating at regular intervals is far more important than how many meals we eat. When this is done, our body does not feel like we are skipping meals and therefore ignores the desire to store calories for future use, because it knows when to expect it’s next refueling.
Our mind responds to today’s stressors of unpaid bills, family troubles, or job inconsistencies in the same manner in which our ancestor's minds would have done. Our bodies, however, have a very different way of coping. Instead of running away from the source of stress or physically fighting it “fight or flight”, we tend to sit and stew. Our brain does not understand that we haven’t succumbed to the physical expression of stress management, and so it tells us that we must eat to replenish our lost nutrients (even though we haven’t actually lost any nutrients). Meditation can be a powerful way to cut stress out of your life and put stressors into perspective so that your mind and body become more attuned with each other and your appetite doesn’t spike every time a stressful situation arises. Healthy eating becomes easier when you don’t constantly feel hungry.
Don’t Eat From The Package
It is extremely difficult to be sure about how much you’re eating unless you portion out your food. Eating food directly from the packaging means that you haven’t portioned anything and thus are more likely to eat too much. Portioning out your snacks before consumption and serving yourself will make it feel more like a meal to be savored than a snack to be devoured.
Avoid Processed Foods
When you avoid processed foods healthy eating will automatically be easier. Your diet will be more focused around whole and natural foods, which is what you want because whole foods carry more vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are essential to the normal and healthy functioning of your body.
Drink More Water
Drinking more water is as simple as making sure that you always have a full water bottle near you. As long as water is the most convenient beverage option, you will be more likely to drink it, rather than coffee, juice, or soda. Drinking adequate amounts of water is especially important to fend off dehydration. Dehydration can often confuse the body into thinking it is hungry when it is only thirsty, which can lead to overeating.
Shop The Outer Circle
One of the easiest ways to make sure that you are engaging in healthy eating and maintaining a diet of whole foods with very few processed options is to only shop the outer circle of the grocery store and avoid the aisles. The outer circle is where you will find your fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, milk, cheese, and eggs.
Buy New Dishes
Buy colorful, preferably dark blue or dark green, dishes. These colors will contrast with light colored carbohydrates, such as: pasta, potatoes, and cereal, which will cause you to eat less of them. Dark greens and blues will also closely mirror the colors of leafy greens and other healthy vegetables, leading you to consume more of these nutrient dense foods.
Don’t Eat In Front Of The TV
Instead of grabbing your dinner and heading to the couch for some quality TV time, try sitting and eating at the table so that you become more mindful about what you’re eating. Healthy eating starts with mindful eating, because then you are less likely to overeat, and therefore more likely to be able to lose weight.
Choose a Relaxing Atmosphere
When you decided to go out to eat, because there will be a time when you just want to eat out, choose a restaurant with soft music and low lighting. The atmosphere of a restaurant can impact your mood, and your mood can impact the way in which you eat. When in a dimly lit, quiet area you are more likely to be relaxed and calm and thus more likely to take additional time eating and enjoying your meal.
Snack On Air Popped Popcorn
Although you should try to avoid snacking and focus instead on getting your nutrients and satiety from your meals, it is important that you have healthy options, just in case. Popcorn is a whole grain that contains a decent amount of fiber. When it is air popped (not the instant packaged brands) it can be one of the healthiest snacks for you, low in calories, fats, and carbohydrates. It is important to note that instant popcorn will have more calories, fats, and carbohydrates and is not as healthy.
Healthy Eating, Healthy Living
Once you learn how to stop living to eat, and start eating to live you’ll find that your overall lifestyle will likely become healthier. Eating more nutrient-rich foods will likely boost your energy levels for exercise and other physical activities. Your mental focus should also improve as your health improves, increasing your productivity levels. Food essentially affects every aspect of your life, from the way you feel to the way you look, and even the way that you act. Healthy eating is the first step to a lifetime of healthy living.
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