Did you know that a typical restaurant entrée contains up to 60% more calories than a homemade version? While the news wouldn’t have made an impact 20 or 30 years ago, nowadays we tend to eat out more than ever. So what can we do to change our eating habits to a healthier, more wholesome diet without taking drastic measures that are known to backfire?
#1 Know your habits
While some people take pleasure from food preparations, the others couldn’t live without a microwave. It’s essential that you find a healthy way to prepare meals that works with your routines and preferences. For example, if you’re a fan of big sit-down dinners, then the traditional wisdom of eating many small meals during the day won’t work for you. If you know yourself, you also know your risks. For example, if you like to snack while working, keep food as far away from your desk as possible, or pack healthy snacks only. If you’re tempted by salty junk food, reduce the amount you eat by not eating directly from the package but take only a handful. Small changes and adjustments won’t feel like a sacrifice, but they’re enough to make a difference.
#2 Eat less meat
The foundation of a healthy diet should be grains, nuts, seeds, non-starchy vegetables, and fruits. Whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice, and whole-wheat bread provide necessary fibres which improve digestion and make you feel fuller, as well as B vitamins which fire up metabolism and provide energy. Nuts and seeds like almond and sunflower, on the other hand, provide essential nutrients, like E vitamin. Legumes like beans, soybeans, peanuts, and lentils provide fibre, as well as protein, iron, folate, and other nutrients. By using legumes as a source of protein instead of meat, you can also reduce saturated fat intake. It’s even easier than preparing meat. Just open a can of kidney beans or chickpeas and add them to your salad, chili or pasta.
#3 Know your goal
At one point, eating healthy inevitably raises one question – What is an ideal weight for me? However, there’s no universal answer, because every individual has their own set of factors such as age, muscle-to-fat ratio, height, sex, body fat distribution, and body shape. Even though excess weight may not affect your current risk of developing health conditions, lack of management could lead to problems in the future. One of the ways to determine the healthy weight is to use a height weight chart, however, for more complete results, we also need to consider waist to hip measurements, distribution of fat, and proportion of muscle mass. High-performance athletes, for example, can be very fit and have little body fat, however, their Body Mass Index might be high because they have more muscle mass.
#4 Understand good fats, bad fats
In no other area of nutrition have researchers learned so much and at the same time confused so many consumers than with fats. Basically, it all boils down to this: fats contain more calories per gram than carbs or protein, so if a weight loss is your goal, you should limit the amounts of fat you consume. However, not all fats affect the body in the same way. Polyunsaturated fats and monosaturated fats are known as ‘good fats’. They don’t raise the blood cholesterol levels and may even reduce the risk of heart conditions. They are found in nut and vegetable oils, and oily fish like salmon, herring, and trout. Saturated and trans fats are known as the ‘bad’ fats are found in dairy, beef, as well as palm and coconut oil. They are deliberately used in French fries and many other commercially baked or fried products such as biscuits and crackers.
#5 Treat yourself
Even if you’re steering away from unhealthy dietary choices, you should treat yourself from time to time. Overzealous dieting regimen leave you feeling deprived and unsatisfied, which in some cases may lead to binging on forbidden food. To prevent this, calculate in for 200 calories a day of something tasty, or save up calories for a few days and splurge them all on a piece of chocolate cake or whatever else makes you happy. In order to keep these indulgences under control, stock individual servings and buy only one type of snack at a time. A study has shown that people are less likely to cross the limit if there’s only one type of snack available.
While some people put heavy restrictions on their clean diets, such as avoiding certain food groups at all costs, the secret is to find a sustainable regimen that keeps you both healthy and not feeling deprived of your gourmet sensibilities.