How do you stick to a healthy eating plan, especially if it’s new to you? You’ve heard the old mantras; “you can’t out-exercise a bad diet” and “nutrition is the most important aspect of weight loss.” Not to mention it’s important for overall health. But it can be difficult to change your habits, especially in the long-term. So we’ve compiled a list of tips to keep you on track and motivated to eat better and see the results you’re looking for!
Eat healthy foods you enjoy.
If you don’t like broccoli, don’t force yourself to eat it. If your healthy eating plan constantly feels like you’re sacrificing or being deprived you’ll dread it and quickly revert back to your old habits. Instead, find nutritious foods you enjoy and make sure not to overcook or under-season vegetables. Use garlic and fresh herbs to enhance flavors without adding empty calories. Find different dishes that incorporate your favorite healthy foods like the combinations of herbs and spices that pair deliciously with vegetables and protein listed below.
- Dill: fish, potatoes, green beans, carrots
- Basil: eggplant, tomatoes, tofu, chicken, beef, fish, salad
- Chives: omelets, chicken, fish
- Rosemary: steak, lamb, chicken, potatoes
- Cilantro: chicken, beans, corn, avocado, salad
- Tarragon: chicken, lamb, beef, salmon, omelet, carrots
- Mint: salad with feta cheese, lamb, chicken, fish
- Ginger: chicken, beef, tofu
- Cumin: beans, tofu, chicken, beef, potatoes
Cook without spending all of your time in the kitchen.
A healthy eating plan doesn’t have to be time consuming. If you have a busy schedule buy a prepared protein and make quick, nutritious sides to go along with it like steamed or frozen vegetables. You can find seasoned meat and fish at your local supermarket or specialty store that just needs to be tossed into the oven. A slow cooker is another great option – throw everything in in the morning and have a delicious meal waiting for you for dinner. And always make enough for leftovers so you can have lunch ready for later in the week. You can also have healthy, tasty meals prepared for you by one of our amazing chefs so you don’t have to worry about anything except enjoying them!
Don’t use the excuse,”I eat what my kids are eating.”
Your kids should be eating healthy foods too! Eating habits start when you’re young so make sure you’re getting your kids off to the right start by giving them plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. My four year-old nephew loves to snack on raw sweet potato and I’ve never seen him with a bag of chips because they aren’t in the house. He eats what he’s given, like all kids. Children are growing and need plenty of nutrients to ensure that their development is on the right track. A treat once in a while is fine, for both of you. But it should only be a treat, not a part of your regular diet. Teaching them that at a young age can ward off obesity related illnesses which are sadly becoming more and more common in the US.
Make fresh produce last.
The better a food is for you, the shorter its life span. This is true, but with proper planning it shouldn’t be an issue. When stored properly, fruits and vegetables should last a week. Make sure to keep them on the second or third shelf in the thin plastic bags from the supermarket. They’re designed to maintain freshness by releasing the moisture and gases that accelerate decay. These gases can spoil other fruits and vegetables once they’re emitted, so keep them apart and remove anything that begins to go bad so it doesn’t affect your other items.
Choose the right carbs.
Simple carbs like bread and sugar trigger a release of insulin that can quickly drop your blood sugar and make you feel hungry and tired. On the other hand, filling up on foods with plenty of fiber and protein will keep you fuller longer and prevent you from overeating. By satisfying your hunger these carb cravings will lessen. Protein also takes longer to digest so these affects will last, as well as help build muscle and speed up your metabolism. Make sure to space out your servings of protein between your meals and snacks throughout the day with the suggestions listed below. Your body can’t absorb it all at once and the excess will be stored as glucose or fat.
- Add peanut/almond butter or cottage cheese to fruits like apples or bananas
- Add peanut butter or an egg to your oatmeal
- Add beans, legumes, meat, poultry or fish to your salad
Eat your fiber.
You should be getting 25 grams daily on a healthy eating plan. If you’re well below this amount start slowly and work your way up, as eating this much fiber before your body is used to it can upset your stomach. Check out this extensive list of high fiber foods for tips on what to incorporate into different meals.
Start with small changes.
Begin by limiting your calories from sweet, sugary drinks instead of going vegan in a day (not that that needs to be your ultimate goal). Start adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet and try to incorporate some at every meal. Small changes can go a long way and won’t make you feel like you’re sacrificing. Continue to tweak your diet over time by eating less calories and making your choices more nutrient dense. Rome wasn’t built in a day, it may take a little while to ease into healthy eating and that’s ok. Just try to make sure you improve as time goes on.
Don’t designate cheat meals.
If you label a meal or day with the word “cheat” and give yourself license to eat whatever you want, you can ruin your progress. A healthy eating plan is about moderation. So, if you want a piece of chocolate, have one. Try and keep it to a piece and you’ll see you can satisfy your sweet tooth with less. The key is balance and not overdoing it. Have a few chips if you’re craving them but don’t eat the whole bag.
Count all of your calories.
The little calories add up but they can be easy to ignore. Cream in your coffee, salad dressing and condiments all have calories we don’t always factor into our daily allotment, but should. They can add up quickly if you don’t pay attention to them so choose the ones you really want and limit them. You’ll also get used to less over time.
Don’t get discouraged by plateaus.
As you get smaller, your body needs less calories to maintain or lose weight. This is one of the toughest parts of weight loss. You’ve been sticking to a healthy eating plan, you’re losing weight and you hit a plateau. Don’t get discouraged, but do realize that without a caloric deficit you won’t continue to lose weight. A 180 pound person can lose weight eating more calories than a 130 person since you don’t need as many as you go down in size. As your body changes so must your eating habits. The more nutrient dense your foods, the more of them you can eat so find dishes with lots of vegetables and herbs to keep them tasty. Check out our eggplant salad recipe for a delicious and healthy breakfast with hard boiled eggs.