By Seraine Page, totalwellnesshealth.com
So you want to eat healthier, eh?
Luckily, you don’t need to follow a trend or diet to focus on healthy eating for your daily life. It all boils down to listening to your body’s needs by fueling it with food that makes you feel energized and well. Studies show diets rich in nuts, fish, fruits, and veggies are best.
Sound expensive? It’s actually not.
Eating healthy on a budget isn’t impossible. In fact, a Harvard School of Public Health research found a healthy vs. unhealthy diet costs just $1.50 more per day.
The cost of diet-related chronic diseases — such as diabetes — is much higher.
If eating healthy seems overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. While there’s a lot of information (and misinformation) out there, sometimes keeping it simple is best. Start small, and then figure out what works best for your lifestyle.
To make it easy, here are 13 ways to eat healthier in your daily life:
Eat whole foods -If it's been grown in the ground, it's a whole food. The closer to nature your food is, the better it is for your health. Avoiding pre-packaged, convenience foods is one way to ensure you’re eating foods in the most natural state. Fresh fruits and veggies are best, but frozen food is a close second when it comes to nutritional value.
Fill your plate with vegetables - In order to meet your daily vegetable intake, fill half your plate with veggies. Whether it's a salad or grilled veggies, eating fiber-rich options like broccoli and Brussels sprouts will make you feel fuller sooner.
Eat smaller amounts - If you tend to overeat, it can lead to health issues like obesity. Try eating smaller meals throughout the day to avoid overstuffing yourself when you're starving. You can also try using a smaller plate as it gives you the perception that you have more food than you really do.
Check ingredients - Unfortunately, red #40 isn’t an ingredient found in nature. If you can’t pronounce it or don’t recognize a food ingredient, it’s probably not healthy. As the saying goes, if your grandmother wouldn't recognize it as food, it’s likely not supposed to be edible.
Cut out sodium - The human body needs sodium to regulate kidneys and control the body's fluid balance. But, too much of a mineral like sodium can cause issues like high blood pressure. According to the American Heart Association, the ideal limit for most adults is no more than 1,500 mg per day. Pre-packed foods and sauces (like soy sauce) have a ton of sodium and should be avoided.
Drink more water - If you're looking to lose weight, drink more water. Water can make you feel full, which often leads to eating less. It also is a necessity to keep the body hydrated, especially in the hotter months. You can also “eat” more water — high water content foods include melons, tomatoes, and celery.
Find healthy foods you love - Eating healthy shouldn't be painful. You want to associate healthy eating with positive results. If you've always hated broccoli, and you still gag when you eat it, just don't eat it. Instead, find healthy fruits and veggies that you love to eat that taste good to you and make you feel energized.
Snack healthy - If you need a bite to hold you over until your next meal, grab a snack full of protein and good-for-you fats. Healthy picks like smashed avocado on rice cakes, homemade trail mix, boiled eggs, and fresh fruit are all great options.
Meal plan - Eating healthy on a budget doesn't have to be challenging. If you meal plan, you can catch sales and coupons before you head into the grocery store. Plan meals around sales to get the best deals. And, you won’t be tempted to run out to dinner if you’ve already meal planned and prepared for the week!
Bake or roast foods - Even though fried foods are delicious, fried fare is far from healthy. Instead, bake or roast your favorites — like fries — for a lighter and healthier spin on your temptation foods.
Add some fun to your salads - Keep your salad interesting by adding lots of toppings. The key is to have quality toppings that provide nutritional value. Add crunchy texture with ingredients like chopped carrots, pickles, almond slices, and baked chickpeas. Stay away from creamy dressings as those tend to be packed with higher calories.
Slow down when you eat - Eating too quickly can lead to poor digestion. Also, if you scarf your food down, it makes it hard to enjoy your meal. It takes the brain about 20 minutes to register that you're full. If you eat too fast, you will get the hunger satiety signal too late — usually when you’re uncomfortably full.
Keep junk food out of the house -If you bring your favorite junk food into the house, you're going to eat it. Leave it at the store. Instead, keep healthy snacks on hand like trail mix, hummus and crackers, and fresh fruits. Then you’ll be forced to nosh on healthy food instead of empty-calorie foods like chips.
Eating Healthy for Overall Better Health
A balanced diet and good nutrition are just a few of the keys to overall good health and wellness. Diets filled with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and other chronic health issues.
You don't have to implement these tips all at once, either.
Ease into healthy eating, and be patient with yourself as it’s a process to break poor eating habits. Eating healthy on a budget is possible as well if it’s important enough to you to take the time to be healthier. The cost of poor health is much higher than a slightly increased grocery bill.
A few other healthy diet tips:
Avoid processed meats (too much sodium)Eat breakfast to boost energySwap out sugary drinks for herbal tea and fruit waterEat whole fruits instead of drinking juice
Discover more healthy eating tips by talking with a registered dietitian or your doctor. If you enjoy cooking, you can also Google clean eating recipes and check out Pinterest for more interesting healthy recipes.
Here’s to happy and healthy eating!