Eating healthy is easier than it sounds. Arm yourself with knowledge and you're halfway there. If you think of eating healthy not as a sacrifice, but more as an opportunity for self-improvement, you're almost at the finish line. Because you don't need someone to tell you the numerous health benefits that putting away the donuts and hamburgers will get you. You want someone to show you how it's done. Here's a glimpse.
Changing Your Mindset
Adopt a healthy attitude towards food.
- Find a healthier replacement. If you find that you tend to gorge on unhealthy foods when you're stressed, find a substitute activity — for instance, you could instead go for a walk, take a long bath, or call a trusted friend for a chat. Whatever you choose, it should be something that helps you decompress so that you no longer feel the need to binge.
- See food as sustenance. A lot of Western culture is rife with messages that food is for entertainment or for relieving boredom. Break yourself of this cognitive habit by consciously evaluating food in terms of what it can do to keep your body healthy. Ask yourself if what you're about to put in your mouth is good for you, and if it will help your body function as it was designed to.
- Consult a medical professional. Eating disorders are classified as mental illnesses, and you can't always just talk yourself into stopping destructive behaviors. If you suspect that you have an eating disorder (whether it's over- or under-eating), ask your general practitioner to refer you to the appropriate care.
Determine how many calories your body needs to function each day.
- If you're the kind of person who puts on 10 pounds just smelling a slice of pizza, then your daily caloric intake should stay around 2000 calories for men, and 1500 calories for women. Your body mass also plays a part in this — more calories are suitable for naturally bigger people, and fewer calories for smaller people.
- If you're the kind of person who can eat without putting on a pound, or you're physically active, you may want to increase your daily caloric intake by 1000-2000 calories, a little less for women.
Don't skip breakfast.
- Eating breakfast gets your metabolism going and keeps it active throughout the morning. Skipping breakfast may kick off the "starvation response" in some people. Your brain says "There is no food! It has been hours! It must be a famine!" The next time you eat, the body stores as much fat as it possibly can.
- Furthermore, skipping breakfast might leave you famished by lunch, causing you to binge as a way to compensate.
- A small breakfast is better than no breakfast. If you don't feel up to a full meal, at least drink some water and eat a piece of fruit, a granola bar, or a piece of toast. Get more nutritious bang for your buck by eating a breakfast smoothie.
- On the other hand, a technique called "intermittent fasting" has been shown to contribute to more rapid weight loss with possibly other health benefits. The effect, however, may vary from individual to individual. However, it may not be a good idea to skip breakfast the day of an important exam, job interview, or other critical event as you may be distracted by your hunger or not have enough energy to perform up to your potential.
Eat five times per day.
- Slow yourself down by waiting 5 or 10 minutes between each course. Chew each bite of food 20 to 30 times before swallowing.
- Drink a full glass of water throughout your meal. Stopping for sips will slow your eating, as well as helping you feel fuller.
Choosing a Healthy Diet
Choose the right carbohydrates
- Consider eating leafy greens like kale, collard greens, mustard greens, and Swiss chard. They are packed with nutrients and will fill you up very quickly. A simple sauté with olive oil, garlic, a little salt and pepper and you have a surprisingly tasty meal that is very nutritious.
- Choose wheat (brown) bread instead of white bread and whole wheat pasta instead of "normal" pasta. Processed carbohydrates such as those found in white bread are harder to draw nutrients from, and therefore constitute empty calories. Plain oat meal is also very healthy for you.
Eat lean, mean protein
- Lean fish such as flounder, sole, cod, bass, perch, and halibut.
- Lean poultry such as chicken or duck breast.
- Legumes like beans and soy products (e.g. edamame and tofu).
- Nuts like cashews.
Health Tips for Today - How to Eat Healthy.
- Monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids are good fats, which you should try to consume regularly. They help lower the "bad cholesterol" in your body by raising "good cholesterol". Foods that are high in fatty acids are olive oil, nuts, fish oil, and various seed oils. Adding these "good" fats to your weekly diet can lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease.
- Avoid trans fats and saturated fats. Trans fats are a form of unsaturated fat commonly found in processed foods, and consuming them raises your risk of heart disease. Read the labels of what you eat, and look for "hydrogenated" anything on the ingredient list.
Some people might be great at giving up meat, sugar, alcohol, or other foods. However, most of us are likely to give it up for awhile, then break down and binge. Avoid this deprivation-binge cycle by allowing yourself to have small "cheats". For instance, if you want to eat less sugar, allow yourself to eat one dessert each Friday night and abstain for the rest of the week. Having a break to look forward to can help you power through the other days.
Stock up on superfoods.
Blueberries may facilitate brain health. If you don't have access to blueberries, try fresh berries, raspberries, or cranberries.
It may not sound appetizing, but then again when you read the list of health benefits you may think again. Rich in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, as well as beneficial in managing natural flora in the gut.
Another creature of the sea makes the list, and for good reason. Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a good type of fat. Omega-3 fats are good for blood pressure, brain function, and heart health.
Watch your salt intake.
Making Easy but Healthy Decisions
Avoid soft drinks, juices, sports and energy drinks, as well as other products containing artificial sweeteners.
Drink one glass of wine or beer occasionally, but be wary of more.
- Red wine, in particular, contains a polyphenol called resveratrol that scientists believe is particularly heart-healthy. Resveratrol works by improving the function of blood vessels in the heart and curbing the amount of "bad" cholesterol in your body.
- Are you pregnant and worried about drinking? While it's normal for expectant mothers to abstain from alcohol, scientists say that it's perfectly harmless to drink one glass of wine a day.
Drink plenty of water.
Health Tips for Today - How to Eat Healthy.
- If you feel like snacking, try drinking a full glass of water first. Some people confuse thirst for hunger, and eat a 400- or 500-calorie snack when a glass of water would have helped them feel satiated. If you're still hungry 15 minutes after your drink, then it's time for a snack.
Participate in Meatless Mondays.
Stay away from fast food.
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