Eating healthier can feel like an overwhelming task for many – after all, food equals comfort for many of us, and depriving ourselves of that comfort can be daunting. But rather than committing to huge lifestyle changes, there are little habits that you can incorporate daily for a healthier diet over time.
1. Eat slow
Although it’s tempting for us to shovel food down our mouths when a mouthwatering meal is placed in front of us, it’s not ideal for our health. The pace of your eating is extremely important – it dictates how much you eat, as well as how likely you are to put on pounds. Fast eaters have a higher likelihood of eating more and having a higher BMI. Factors like appetite, how full you feel and how much you eat are all controlled by hormones. Hormones tell our brain if we’re full or hungry, but it can take up to 20 minutes for our mind to receive this message. Therefore, slower eating gives our brains that extra time to realize that our stomachs are full. So chew slower and more often!
2. Go with whole grains
White bread and white rice might be popular comfort foods, but they have limited health benefits. For a healthier diet, consider switching to whole grains, like whole-wheat bread and brown rice which taste just as good. You can also look for wheat bulgar, lentils and quinoa, which are all high protein alternatives. Refined grains are generally inflammatory, while whole grains can reduce the chances of diabetes and heart disease. Whole grains also contain high levels of minerals, B vitamins and fiber. Bread with whole seeds gets bonus points.
3. Don’t Impulse buy
Grocery lists are your best friend. By making a shopping list, you can meal plan more effectively. Writing down what you need before going to the store helps you stay focused and allows you to purchase healthier items. Once these items are in your fridge, you have no choice but to eat them since they
‘re already around the house. Impulse buying can also get experience, and lead you to wander into the danger zones of the supermarket where the candy, chips and soft drinks lie.
4. Eat More Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt has a rich and creamy flavor thanks to its straining process which removes the watery whey. and it also contains double the protein of regular yogurt, and since protein can help you feel fuller for longer, it’s a smart food swap. The straining of Greek yogurt also means that it has less lactose and fewer carbs. Greek yogurt, when mixed with berries, bananas and granola, can also make a delicious, nutrient-filled alternative to an unhealthy dessert for those looking to make better dietary choices. Just try to find an unflavored version, because non-plain Greek yogurts can be filled with added sugars.
5. Drink more water or eat high-water foods
You may have heard this before, but it’s finally time to put this into action. Half the time we think we’re hungry, we’re actually dehydrated. Quench that thirst by always having a bottle of water nearby. Drinking more water can directly cause weight loss and increase your body’s potential to burn calories. It can also reduce appetite. However, replacing unhealthy drinks with water is the main takeaway here, since it can help you cut down on calories and sugar. You can also eat foods that are high in H2O, like watermelons, apples, celery and cucumber.
6. Revise Your Cooking Methods
You may not know this, but grilling, frying, and broiling all have their downsides. It’s not just deep-frying – these other methods can cause potentially toxic compounds to be formed, leading to potential heart disease and cancer down the line. Instead, consider baking, air frying, poaching, slow cooking, and simmering foods. Sous-vide is also a popular and flavorful way of preparing foods without all the extra oil. Fish and meat can taste just as good when baked or slow-cooked using these methods – the key is keeping them moist and seasoning them properly to provide that burst of flavor.
7. Eat Your Veggies as a Starter
You might make fun of that person you know who eats their vegetables first to get them out of the way, but there may actually be some benefits to doing this. Eating your salad or vegetables before the rest of your meal is the ultimate hack for a healthier diet. It allows you to fill up when you’re at your hungriest point. Doing this will allow you to eat fewer calories and prevent overeating during a carb-rich meal. In turn, this can have a positive effect on blood sugar levels.
8. Portion Control and Smaller Plates
Small plates aren’t just chic and elegant – they’re good for our bodies. The size of your dinner plates actually affects how much you eat, and just seeing a smaller portion on an oversized plate can leave your tummy rumbling. Instead, pile up the portions on smaller plates. It’ll give your mind the illusion that you’re eating a larger meal and can make you feel more full. This psychological trick is a great way to initiate portion control, and also takes up less real estate on your dining room table!