1. Always Eat Breakfast
2. Cut Back on Sugary Drinks
3. Drink Less Alcohol
This goes with Tip #2 but needed a separate heading because alcohol negatively affects a healthy diet in so many ways. Mixed drinks, wine, and cider all contain added sugar. While some beers and hard liquors don’t contain sugar, they still contain calories and have the potential to dehydrate you. I’m not telling you to completely give up drinking and live a miserable life, I’m just saying cut back to one or two drinks on occasion. When you binge drink, you dehydrate yourself which will cause migraines and throw off your productivity the next day. If you’re always nursing a hangover, then you won’t be working out and getting everything done during the day. If you are the type of person that needs a glass of wine or beer every day, then you must be stricter with everything else you consume; as well as drink more water.
4. Add Vegetables to Meals you already Love
The easiest way to get used to eating more vegetables, is to add them to meals you currently eat. Slowly you can add more vegetables and less of the more fattening parts of the meal. I have always loved pasta so instead of eating plain macaroni and cheese, I mixed in baby spinach leaves. Next, sauteed mushrooms and tomatoes. Lastly, I added chickpeas because I wanted more fiber and protein. Soon I was making my portions of the actual macaroni and cheese smaller with larger portions of vegetables. This method also helps when trying to introduce new vegetables to your diet. I used to hate the bitter taste of kale and had to saute it in lots of seasoning and oil, then add it to pasta or soup. After getting used to it, I could just throw raw kale in a hot pasta dish and eat it. Now, I eat salads of cold kale and other ingredients. Everything just has to be introduced in moderation.
5. Bring your Lunch to Work
I learned this lesson the hard way at one of the jobs I’ve worked at in the past. Starting a new job I was so set on learning all the training material that the last thing I was thinking about was my diet. Since the job was over 25 miles away from home and I had to get up early for work, it was easier to just buy lunch at the cafeteria. There seemed to be healthy sides of steamed vegetables every day and pre-made salads. Sometimes there was also grilled meat so I thought I was still sticking close to what I was eating at home. Wrong! After gaining five pounds in my first two and half weeks, I started looking closer at the steamed veggies because I realized they tasted sweeter than when I cook them. What I found out is the carrots and green beans were steamed but then a ridiculous amount of butter was slathered over the top and then sit to melt through the base of the tray. The lesson of this story is that you don’t know how food is being cooked. Even though a sign says “grilled” or “steamed,” that doesn’t mean there won’t be added sugar, salt, or butter. You won’t know exactly what you are eating unless you make it. You can also buy meals from a healthy restaurant to go and bring them in a lunch box with an ice pack.
6. Eat when You are Hungry; Don’t Wait until You Are Starving
This last tip is a real one! A lot of us use the time of the day to dictate when we should eat, but every meal you eat has different nutritional content. You may eat a salad and feel hungry an hour later, that’s fine, go get a snack of fruit or protein bar (natural, nut based ones are best). If you have an active job you may expend more calories than others and need to eat more often. The worst thing to do is to wait till you are starving to eat because by then your body is in famine mode. It doesn’t know when it is going to get food again so it holds on to every bit. You become groggy and weak because your body doesn’t want you to expend energy it can’t get back. This screws up your metabolism and the only way to get it back to normal is to eat frequent small snacks and then start working out again. If you are someone who gets really busy and “forgets to eat,” I suggest buying some protein powder, bananas, and almond milk (or whichever you prefer). You can make a shake with half a scoop, one banana and a cup of milk to hold you over.
Which one of these tips do you incorporate in your life? Answer in the comments below!