You’ve probably heard almost everyone say that your diet holds the key to regulating your weight loss goals. This statement has been proven to be true scientifically – yet, its importance seems downplayed. Many people feel overwhelmed by the idea of tweaking their eating habits.
After all, it’s easy to open your fridge and make a non-nutritious sandwich, instead of finding ways to eat healthier. There’s also a lot of information out there that can potentially confuse you, and make the whole task seem daunting.
However, here, you’ll find a breakdown of small dietary and lifestyle changes that you can make to create a huge impact, not only improving your eating habits but also propelling you further along your journey toward fitness and health.
Inculcating changes in your diet might seem impossible, but a slow and steady pace of swapping ingredients in and out will improve your eating habits drastically. During this process, remember to go easy on yourself, and set realistic goals, so as to not be demotivated easily, thereby quitting.
Add protein to your diet:
One of the superheroes of the nutrition world, protein offers a bevy of benefits. It easily satisfies your hunger, due to it being extremely filling in nature. It’s easy to work with and is found in some of the most popularly consumed food items. Moreover, it helps retain muscle mass, and can even increase the number of calories you burn in a day (albeit slightly).
Integrating protein into your diet is also quite easy. You can have eggs, beans, or peanut butter for breakfast. Dairy products can be included in your diet in numerous ways as well. Moreover, lean meat makes for a great meal.
Whole foods are essential:
Food items that you’d come across naturally, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, legumes, and fish, are extremely essential for your body. Integrating as many of these as you can into your diet will help improve your eating habits. If you’re confused about how to do so, the Healthi app gives you fun new recipes to try, alongside creating tailor-made meal plans that not only improve your eating habits but also help you on your journey toward your ideal weight.
Avoid saturated fat and sugar
While fat is essential for your overall diet, the kind of fat you’re consuming and the amount you’re consuming are key factors as well. An excess of saturated fat – that is found in things like cream, cakes, biscuits, pies, butter, fatty cuts of meat, sausages, and the like – can lead to an increase in the amount of cholesterol in your blood, thereby making you vulnerable to developing heart disease. Swapping out saturated fat for unsaturated fat – found in things like oily fish, avocados, and vegetable oil – will benefit you greatly. However, you must remember to consume these in moderate amounts.
When it comes to sugar, its regular consumption is never great for your health, increasing your risk of obesity, if you’re concerned about your weight, and can even lead to tooth decay. Often referred to as free sugars, these are often found in alcoholic and fizzy beverages, desserts, and breakfast cereals. Use food labels to skirt around picking up food items high in sugar and saturated fat.
Reduce your salt intake:
Adults aren’t meant to have more than 2.3g (2300mg) of salt a day. Reading food labels will help you avoid the mistake of shopping for food items that contain high amounts of salt. The reason behind trying to curb your salt intake is that consuming too much of it can raise your blood pressure, making you more vulnerable to developing heart disease or having a stroke.
Swap out what isn’t working
Once you have a decent understanding of what does and does not work for you, you can take certain liberties, like swapping things in and out as per your diet. For example, you may find yourself benefiting from swapping out the regular yogurt you use with Greek yogurt, which is thicker, creamier, and strained in a way where it’s higher in fat and protein.
Once you’re attuned to eating vegetables, you can start switching out starchy vegetables with non-starchy ones. Let’s say that you love potatoes and corn. Over the course of time, you can eventually start adding in carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes, and zucchini.
Changes in your lifestyle can include habits, your relationship with food and your body, and also certain changes in your mindset and perception. As complex as all of this sounds, as long as you start small and build your way up toward incorporating more and more changes, setting realistic goals in the process, you’ll find yourself gravitating toward the lifestyle you’re going to build.
Figure out where to start:
The best way to do this is to map out your habits using a food journal, or an application like Healthi that essentially doubles as a progress and habit tracker. Once you’ve identified patterns of behavior specific to eating, you’ll know what problem areas require active effort for change. Not only is this a great place to start your journey, but this will also help you throughout, keeping your progress in check at every point in time.
Practice mindful eating:
Eliminate all forms of media while consuming food, and understand what you’re putting into your body. Develop a relationship with the food you consume. Chew slower, instead of rushing through meals. Swap out big plates for smaller plates to reduce your portion size. Notice how you feel when you eat a meal and put it down in your journal.
Don’t skip meals:
Many people are guilty of skipping breakfast. There’s a reason why it’s the most important meal of the day, and skipping it should be avoided at all costs. Moreover, you shouldn’t skip the three big meals in general. Make sure you have a plan for those meals and stick to it.
Hydration is extremely essential. More often than not, when you feel hungry, you can, in fact, just be thirsty. Before grabbing a snack that can throw you off your diet, have some water. If you’re still hungry, eat. If not, you’ve just prevented yourself from snacking on something you didn’t really need.
Go shopping with a list:
Having a planned list while shopping will stop you from grabbing things you don’t need. Make sure you’re adding things to the list that follow your diet plan and try your best to not grab anything that you don’t absolutely need. It also helps to plan your list according to the number of calories you’re going to consume, all of which can later be logged into your journal.
Cook at home:
There cannot be a more reliable chef than you, yourself, when it comes to your diet. Instead of relying on meals cooked elsewhere, build a relationship with your food by home-cooking it. This will also ensure that you use all the things you’ve bought in the meals you cook, lest they go to waste in your kitchen cabinet or fridge.
Set up a system of accountability:
You can set up rewards for maintaining your improved eating habits, and minor fines for when you find yourself slipping. For example, if you’ve been sticking to the changes you’ve made, reward yourself with a marathon of your favorite show, or that T-shirt you’ve been eyeing for a while. If you feel like you’ve skipped more than two days in a row while implementing changes, pay a small fine to a friend. If you’re honest, disciplined, and consistent, your sense of accountability will be a guiding light through the process.
Give sleep the importance it deserves:
Your circadian rhythm deserves due attention and importance. Fixing your sleep cycle will benefit you greatly. If you’re awake on time, you’re making sure you’re not skipping breakfast. You can even get in some early morning jogging or walking out of the way before work. If you’re in bed on time, you’re avoiding giving in to those late-night cravings. It’s a win-win.
To sum up, improving your eating habits is beneficial, and definitely achievable. Consistency and discipline are key, and with these two working in tandem as your guiding light, you’ll find your eating habits improving steadily.
One action step to improving your eating habits is choosing a meal plan that works best for you. Take this quiz and find out a relevant meal plan that will help you improve your eating habits and lose weight.