It’s a given that we all want to eat healthier. But actually doing it … that’s another story. There are plenty of reasons why a healthy diet can be tricky (such as the fact that ice cream is truly delicious), but the main deterrent for a lot of people is that it sometimes seems so damn difficult. How many times have you read “helpful” tips like:
- Whatever your favorite food is, never eat that again.
- Restrict refined flour intake, not to exceed 3 grams per 200 calories of protein, as measured by digital astrolabe.
- Only eat white foods on the Tuesday before a full moon, or the thirteenth day of the month, whichever comes last.
- Start eating algae and kelp. Soon they will taste less disgusting!
Healthy eating doesn’t have to be this hard. It doesn’t have to involve precise measurements, expensive equipment, or unpleasant foods. Here are seven tips you can put in place today.
Eat Less Meat
It’s a peculiarly American conviction that every meal must contain a meat component. Millions of vegetarians would beg to differ! If you limit your meat intake to just a few times per week, you’ll save hundreds of calories and plenty of saturated fat. (Not to mention money, too.) This is good for you and good for the planet.
Bring Your Lunch to Work
When you eat at restaurants or get takeout on the fly, you’re more likely to end up with foods that are fatty or unhealthy. Get in the habit of making extra for dinner so you can save some for the next day’s lunch. If you have a full meal already assembled ahead of time, you’ll know exactly what’s in it and won’t be tempted to throw in a bag of chips or a cookie like when you’re grabbing a sandwich.
Sugary drinks, that is. Beverages sink many a diet because it’s so easy to forget that they contain calories—a lot of them. Start thinking about drinks as part of your meal, and aside from the things you really love—a cup of coffee in the morning, a glass of wine at night—just stick to water. If you do indulge in a soda or a smoothie, count that as part of your daily food intake. (It’s also a good idea to watch your imbibing. Alcohol is loaded with empty calories.)
Anticipate Your Snacky Moments
If you know that you tend to feel like noshing at around 3:30 p.m., don’t wait until the craving strikes and then wander in search of the nearest vending machine or 7-11. Plan ahead by having some pretzels, fruit, hummus, or another healthy snack on hand.
Don’t Buy Junk
Here’s the funny thing about junk food: when it’s there, you want it more, and when it’s not, you don’t. It takes some willpower, but the easiest way to avoid pigging out is to not buy junk food in the first place. Don’t keep it in the house at all. Then, when you think that you must have a chipwich for dessert, it’ll be a matter of walking to the store instead of simply walking to the freezer. If it involves leaving the house, you probably don’t want it that much.
Switch to Lower-Fat Dairy
Step down from half-and-half to whole milk. If you use whole milk, switch to 2 percent. Whenever you buy yogurt, soft cheese, milk, cream, or other dairy, just go one step down in fat content to save a considerable number of calories. (Just remember that if you’re cooking, and the recipe calls for heavy cream or half-and-half, milk is not an acceptable substitute.)
Start Reading Labels
Before you buy any kind of prepared or processed food product, read the nutrition label first. When confronted with the hard facts about calories and fat, you very well might naturally stop purchasing certain items. Call it an exercise in self-guilt-tripping, but it’s likely that once you know exactly what’s in Nutella, you’ll suddenly find that you have less of a desire to eat it for breakfast every morning.
Making healthier choices doesn’t mean you have to radically overhaul your diet, and a healthy diet isn’t necessarily one that’s fat-free, sugar-free, salt-free, and fun-free. A healthy diet is simply a diet that is mindful, realistic, and accepts everything in moderation. No kelp required.