It doesn’t have to complicated or overwhelming to start implementing healthier habits. This week I will share five healthy eating habits I learned from my own personal journey to wellness. Also check out my post on five helpful lifestyle habits.
TIP # 1: DON’T SKIP MEALS. It’s common for people to think that when they skip a meal, they are ‘saving’ calories. This often backfires and by mid afternoon they are starving. Then they feel like they have no ‘will power’. Our body needs fuel in the form of food to function, so when it’s deprived, it screams out for what it needs – food! Willpower is no match and then we end up feeling guilty. Don’t do it! Eat three meals a day and healthy snacks when needed. You will notice you get through the day with more energy and, when you plan your meals out during the day, you can make healthier choices. It’s much easier to make unhealthy choices when you need to eat something now and you grab the closest thing you can find. When you plan ahead and don’t skip meals you will notice a difference in how you feel and will usually end up eating fewer calories during the day.
TIP # 2: TRADE OUT YOUR BEVERAGE. A really easy way to improve your health and lose weight is to trade out your soda (regular or diet), flavored coffee drinks or other high-calorie, artificially sweetened beverage. For most of us, it’s just a habit we’ve formed. What is the trigger for you? Is it going by the cafeteria, fast food drive-thru or the stash in your fridge or pantry perhaps? Studies show that even diet soda increases our appetite. So, while the drink itself may be zero calories, you end up eating more food to go along with it. If you are addicted to the caffeine, start by cutting your consumption in half for a week and see how you do. Decide what you can drink instead. You can try unsweetened iced or hot tea, water with fresh fruit or unflavored carbonated water with a splash of fruit juice if you just need some fizz in your drink. By trading out your sugar or chemical-filled beverage for water you’re getting proper hydration – exactly what your body needs!
TIP # 3: EAT CARBS THAT FUEL YOUR BODY. Our body needs carbohydrates, but just the right kind. Refined carbs like white bread, pasta, cereal and processed snacks are lacking in nutrients and leave us hungry again a short time later. Complex carbohydrates from natural foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and beans contain fiber and nutrients that fuel us and help us feel full longer. If you can find it in nature (as opposed to in a package with a long list of ingredients), it’s a good choice.
TIP # 4: CHOOSE HEALTHY FATS. The low fat diet craze has caused most Americans to fear all sources of dietary fat, even the ones that we need to thrive. During this time, fat was replaced with sugar and other additives to give foods the flavor and consistency they needed. Unfortunately, this period of time was also when the rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease skyrocketed in this country. FACT: Our body needs fat in order to function optimally. The body utilizes dietary fat for energy, healthy hair, skin and nails, vitamin absorption and normal, everyday bodily functions. Choose good sources of fat such as nuts, seeds, fish, avocados and extra virgin olive oil. Another good source of healthy fat is coconut oil, which can be used for cooking and baking and it’s also great in smoothies. A little fat goes a long way, so don't over do it. Just include a small portion of fat at each meal to help you stay satisfied longer.
TIP # 5: FOCUS ON LEAN PROTEIN. Consuming enough protein is another way to improve your energy and stay satiated (satisfied) longer after your meal. Our bodies require protein for cell renewal, stabilizing our blood sugar, and providing us the energy we need. Many foods contain protein, but some of the best sources include: fish, dairy, meat and eggs, as well as plant sources like seeds, nut and beans. Be aware of your protein consumption and observe how you feel when you have more versus when you have less to determine what works best for you.
Take action this week by starting with the simplest habit first. Don’t get overwhelmed – just start with ONE thing. Write it down somewhere as a reminder. Imagine if you were to incorporate even one new habit each month for a year – amazing things would happen!
Download more healthy habits in my free e-Guide entitled “10 Simple Steps to a Leaner, Healthier You” at www.sarawolfsen.com.
Sara Wolfsen is a Certified Health Coach who specializes in helping people make their own healthy changes by providing private health coaching, nutrition education and wellness classes, and gentle weight-loss guidance and support. Schedule your complimentary coaching session and learn more online at www.sarawolfsen.com.